Six Animals and One Pillar

BEN_5154The parable of the six animals and one pillar appears in a Buddhist scripture. This is a story that Shakyamuni told people when he preached in an area to the north of Shravasti in ancient India:

A man kept six animals in his house: a dog, a bird, a poisonous snake, a fox, a sisumara ( a kind of crocodile), and a monkey. They were all tightly leashed to the single pillar of the house. They hated to stay inside, and each yearned to go to its favourite place.The dog longed for the village, the bird for the skies, the snake for a hole, the fox for a barrow, the sisumara for the sea and the monkey for the forest. Yet no matter how hard they struggled or strained, they were too securely tied to the pillar to be able to escape.

Shakyamuni Buddha continued:

The six animals represent our six senses or desires—-sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and consciousness. Desires insatiably demand objects. The eyes yearn for beautiful colors, the ears for pleasing voices, the nose for its favorite fragrances, the tongue for good tastes, the body for agreeable textures and the consciousness for self satisfaction. Even though each of them vies with the other to gush forts, one will never be controlled by them if they are tightly tied to a pillar.

The single pillar, by the way, stands for a type of meditation.


Drawing by abbysoekarno, 2011.





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