Home » Features » How Do You Tame Your Six ‘Animals’?

Like a pure mirror,
experience the pleasant
only clearly as they are,
without any attachment.

– Shilashanti

In the Chappana Sutta, the Buddha gave two analogies… First, suppose a person caught six animals, whom he ties together with a rope, with a knot in the middle, before letting them ‘loose’. The snake would pull towards an anthill, the crocodile towards water, the bird towards the sky, the dog towards the village, the jackal to the charnel ground, and the monkey towards the jungle. When most became tired of struggling away from the others, the strongest one would get his way, while the rest surrender control. 

Likewise, those who have not cultivated mindfulness well, would have their eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies and minds attached to pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts, with aversion to the unpleasant. Thus do they become unrestrained. They live without mindfulness of their bodies, with their hearts restricted, not understanding freedom by wisdom, with freedom of their heart.

Next, suppose another person also caught the same six animals, whom he ties together with a rope, then to a strong pillar in the middle. When they became tired of struggling, they would all rest by the pillar, which is stronger than them all, making them surrender control. This pillar represents Right Mindfulness to be cultivated for blissful peace, by being liberated from delusional attachment and aversion that might arise, when the six senses encounter the pleasant and unpleasant.

Likewise, those who have cultivated mindfulness well, would not have their eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies and minds attached to pleasant sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts, without aversion to the unpleasant. Thus do they become restrained. They live with mindfulness of their bodies, with their heart boundless, understanding freedom by wisdom, with freedom of their heart.

Like a pure mirror,
experience the unpleasant
only clearly as they are,
without any aversion.

– Shilashanti

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