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Chapter Twenty-Three -- The Elephant

  1. As an elephant in the battlefield withstands
    arrows shot from bows all around, even so shall
    I endure abuse. There are many, indeed,
    who lack morality.
  2. Tamed elephants can be led into a crowd,
    and the king mounts a tamed elephant. So too,
    best among people is the subdued one who
    endures abuse.
  3. Excellent are well-trained mules,
    thoroughbred Sindhu horses and noble tusker
    elephants. But better still is the person
    who has subdued oneself.
  4. Not by these mounts, however, can
    one go to the Untrodden Land (Nibbana), as one
    who is self-tamed goes by one's own tamed and
    well-controlled mind.
  5. Musty during rut, the tusker named
    Dhanapalaka is uncontrollable. Held in captivity,
    the tusker does not touch a morsel, but only
    longingly calls to mind the elephant forest.
  6. When a person is sluggish and gluttonous,
    lazy, rolling around in bed like a fat pig--that
    sluggard undergoes rebirth again and again.
  7. Formerly this mind wandered about as
    it liked, where it wished, according to its pleasure,
    but now I shall thoroughly master it with wisdom,
    as a mahout controls an elephant in rut.
  8. Delight in heedfulness! Guard well your
    thoughts! Draw yourself out of this bog of evil,
    even as an elephant draws oneself out of the mud.
  9. If for company you find a wise and prudent friend, one who leads a good life, you should
    overcome all impediments and keep this person's
    company, joyously and mindfully.
  10. But if for company you cannot find a wise
    and prudent friend, one who leads a good life,
    then, like a king who leaves behind a conquered
    kingdom or a lone elephant in the elephant forest,
    you should go your own way alone.
  11. Better it is to live alone, there is no
    fellowship with a fool. Live alone and do no evil;
    be carefree like an elephant in the elephant forest.
  12. Good are friends when need arises; good
    is contentment with just what one has; good is
    merit when life is at an end; and good is the
    abandoning of all suffering (through Arahatship).
  13. Good it is to serve one's mother; good
    it is to serve one's father; good it is to serve
    the Sangha; and good it is to serve the holy people.
  14. Good is virtue until life's end; good is
    faith that is steadfast; good is the acquisition
    of wisdom; and good is the avoidance of evil.

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