Way to Heaven – meaning and symbolism

The way to Heaven is also known as a way to . Way to heaven gives deeply symbolic meaning and explanation of the path to .

Symbols in way of heaven

The way to heaven consists of different which have different meanings. This of the development of mental tranquility is often painted on walls. This mnemonic diagram depicts the nine progressive stages of mental development, which are obtained through the six powers of , , memory, comprehension, diligence, and perfection.

Beginning at the start of the path in the lower right, the diagram shows a chasing, binding, leading, and subduing an elephant whose color progresses from black to white.

The path

The way to complete control of one’s , each blend represents one of the six powers.

 The elephant

The elephant represents the mind, and its black color the gross aspect of sinking or mental dullness. The monkey represents distraction or mental agitation; and its brown color, scattering.

The black elephant follows the path of heaven and at the end of the path, it becomes a white elephant.

At the end of the path single-pointed is attained, and the ‘purified elephant’ of the mind is now completely submissive.

The monkey

The monkey represents distraction or mental agitation; and its brown color, ‘scattering’.

The flying monk represents bodily bliss; and his riding of the elephant, mental bliss.

Riding the elephant back triumphantly across the rainbow, wielding the flaming sword of perfect insight having attained the flame of clear understanding and mindfulness, represents the uprooting of by the unity of and vipashyana which directly realizes emptiness.

At first, the monk starts leading the elephant. The monkey now follows the elephant rather than leading it and the rabbit disappears. Finally, the mind is under control and pacified. After also the monkey leaves the elephant and stands behind the monk saluting him with reverence.

The rabbit

The rabbit represents the fluctuation of the mind.

In this stage, the rabbit turns and look at the monk to indicate that distractions acknowledge who is in charge.

The stick

The stick is to control the elephant.

The rope

The rope in the monk’s hand like mindfulness.

The five objects or causes of mental agitation are listed below:

  1. The Scarf-touch
  2. Peaches-taste
  3. in a conch-scene
  4. symbols-sound
  5. A -form

The fire

The represents the struggle for control which reduces through familiarity. After, the final stage (in the cave), bliss and ecstasy(a state of elated bliss) are reached using the realization of the of emptiness to banish(drive away) .

Shamatha Meditation Practice

or “Shamatha” means and with Vipassana is one of the fundamental practices of the tradition.

This is a very unique diagram of the stages of Shamatha, or “tranquil abiding” meditation which is often painted on monastery walls. Sometimes called the “Way to Nirvana”. Primary itself is pure, yet habitual tendencies gated over countless lifetimes have ensnared the mind in the 51 secondary mental consciousnesses. These habitual thought processes, which can be positive, neutral or negative, cause the mind to dwell continually in a state of unfocused distraction.

The practice of develops the ability to focus the mind in single-pointed equipoise or perfect concentration and is a prerequisite for the development of vipashyana or analytical .



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About sadiksha

Namaste! I am a Nepali Art Dealer specialized in Mandala and Thangka paintings. I love to write articles about the monastic culture of the Himalayas.

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