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The first and lowest stage is symbolized by the monk trailing an elephant and a monkey. At this stage the meditator usually finds it hard to concentrate on a chosen image. He discovers that his inner world is overcome by the restless senses, thoughts, or passive dullness. These three powerful distractions continuously toss off his concentration like a little boat in a turbulent river and obscure it like a path shrouded in darkness. The monkey represents the restless mind and gray elephant the heavy dullness. These conditions are typical of worldly minds. The image of the monk holding an ax and a rope indicates the need for self-control and mindfullness in the early stages of settling the mind.

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