Training the Mind Is Like Taming a Wild Animal

Monkey MindPeople come to practice at the monastery in order to attain peace. But for many, the result of the practice is often the opposite and rather disappointing, because all they experience are restlessness, discomfort and a drifting mind. If there is no understanding, we will get confused and despair, Wondering why we are there.

Training our mind is like training a wild animal. Take a monkey for example. The first thing we must do to train it is to keep it in a cage. The monkey will revolt. But we must be patient and not give it any food or water. After a while, it will run out of energy, at which point we can begin to feed it. Gradually it will be familiar with us and finally become tamed. Thereafter, even if it still moves around in the cage, it is not revolting. We may be able to put it on a leash, take it out of the cage, teach it to sit, stand, and reward it with a banana if it is obedient. In the end we may even be able to let it out of the cage freely.

Training our mind is similar.

At home we are free to do whatever we want, watching TV or videos, or reading. This is similar to a free monkey living in the wild. When we come to practice at the monastery, we have to abide by the rules and a fixed schedule. These rules are like a cage for our mind. But we must understand that this is the experience that every beginner must face and we are suffering because our practice is on the right track. After a period of adjustment we will get used to the practice and our mind will be calm, neither pleased nor displeased with anything. Morality, concentration and wisdom will arise, allowing our mind to rise above suffering.

Without the right understanding and wisdom, we will judge the practice simply with our emotions, and instead of seeing the benefit, we end up thinking that the practice is bad as it only brings suffering. But if we are patient and persevere, we will understand that the objective of experiencing this suffering is so that we can finally put an end to it.


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