Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Tethered Elephant

Tuesday nights I go to a local Buddhist Institute for meditation and teachings.  Well, that is I try to when life is on the straight and narrow.  

This most recent evening brought up a Buddhist fable about a tethered elephant.  The mind is the elephant, responding to gentle encouragement, but resisting aggressively when tethered too tightly and roaming undisciplined when tethered too loosely.

It's an analogy for meditation and how the mind wanders and needs to be gently guided back, but not rebuked for following it's natural instinct.  This gentle to and fro practice is how we teach ourselves mindfulness.

But I couldn't help but think of my children as the tethered elephants.  

Learning nothing when I either discipline them too harshly or do not guide them enough.

As I listened to the story I kept thinking of the times when I'd tried too emphatically to enforce my will upon them or let them get away with something to avoid the conflict.  How these occasions were missed opportunities to really teach them something by guiding them gently toward the right path.

We are all ultimately beautiful and good at heart.  My children especially so.  And I think I need to trust that more, relinquish control more.  And be more mindful when helping them to learn life's lessons that I am merely guiding them towards their own wisdom.

No one learns well by brute force, nor by complete lack of discipline.

So as much as I am going to try to gently but firmly tether my own elephant mind, I am going to do so with my baby elephants too.  

And watch them grow.

What are your thoughts on discipline?

Listen to Dave Matthews Band Crash Into Me

Image Sourced at Christie's