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May all beings benefit!
The Shamata Path thangkas are teaching tools to instruct us on the path of calm abiding meditation (shamata). In them, you see a man, an elephant, and a monkey climbibng a treacherous road together. The man is the meditator, the elephant is the mind, and the monkey is the mind’s agitation. At first, the monkey leads the elephant, and the man chases after from behind. With diligence, the man gains some control over the elephant, and eventually the monkey disappears. The elephant and the monkey start out looking muddy grey or black. But as they progress along the path they become increasingly white – symbolizing the growing stillness of mind which comes with practice. Thus, we are shown how, with diligence, we can tame the mind and dispell the monkey of distraction; how we can calm the impurities, agitation, lethargy etc. of the mind so they settle into clarity – like muddy water left to sit undisturbed in a glass.