Similes and classic Dhamma stories in practice

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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Similes and classic Dhamma stories in practice

Postby retrofuturist » Fri May 22, 2009 1:42 am


I thought it might be interesting to find out which Dhamma similes people have found useful in their actual practice.

For example, the taming of the wild elephant... I've been using this simile lately to centre myself and try to prevent the mind wandering of in streams of papanca. I hope to tame this elephant and make it give up on escape (into the realm of sensory pleasures).

Another simile I've found useful in the past is the one about balancing of bowl of oil on your head, whilst there's entertainments all round, and villains waiting to slit your throat if you spill a drop.

Mara as a personification of evil and unwholesomeness also seems like a useful device, though I've not used it often and it doesn't quite classify as a simile.

Has anyone else found a practical application for any of the classic Dhamma similes?


Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)

Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7

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Re: Similes and classic Dhamma stories in practice

Postby MMK23 » Fri May 22, 2009 6:09 am

Hey Retro :-)

I thought I would be a bit cheeky and share a favourite elephant simile of my own :-)

From the vimuttimagga:

A walker in infatuation, who has not gathered wisdom, should not work at any subject of meditation, because of his lack of skill. Owing to lack of skill, his efforts will be fruitless. It is comparable to a man who rides an elephant without a goad.

;) But seriously. This is also highly related to my experience and has led me to a belief in the most serious harnessing of the ego prior to meditation.



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Re: Similes and classic Dhamma stories in practice

Postby piotr » Fri May 22, 2009 4:13 pm


I like the simile of the path which leads to the park (S. 51:15). Its message goes against the current of popular belief that actual practice requires abandonment of desire to practice. I find it very useful.
Bhagavaṃmūlakā no, bhante, dhammā...

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Re: Similes and classic Dhamma stories in practice

Postby kc2dpt » Fri May 22, 2009 5:38 pm

Leper simile. Magandiya Suta?
Reminds me that I am very deluded about the nature of pleasure.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: Similes and classic Dhamma stories in practice

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat May 23, 2009 4:27 am

One of my favorites is the Blind Sea Turtle (who only comes up for air once every 50,000 years or so and the likelihood that she puts her head through a relatively small hoop being the likelihood of being re-born human again).

A great reminder to keep at the practice and not to put it off for some next great fix of entertainment, etc.

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