Similes and Metaphors
Happiness of a person depends ultimately on the state of mind. Buddha's teachings show the path for development of this mind. Although buddha dhamma shows the path, following of the path must be done by the individual. Knowing the difficulty in understanding the path for happiness to be followed mentally, Buddha often presented similes, metaphors and analogies to illustrate the nature of the mind. Not having attained Nibbana a person's mind could flutter when attempting to abandon temptations. The buddha explained this with a simile.
"As a fish from watery home is drawn and cast upon the land, even so flounders this mind while Mara's realm abandoning"
Mind which had indulged in sensual pleasures is like a fish in water, when taken out of the temptations it will start to flutter.
Development of mind is not an impossibility. It can be achieved. Hence, Buddha showed the possibility of this through another simile.
"Mind agitated, wavering, hard to guard and hard to check, one of wisdom renders straight as arrow maker with a shaft."
In another place, he presented metaphors to explain the task of guarding the mind. Here, Buddha showed the physical body as a breakable pot while the mind can become as strong as a fortress and wisdom can become like a weapon.
"Having known this urn-like (clay or ceramic pot like - breakable) body, made firm this mind as fortress town, with wisdom-weapon one fights tempations and death (Mara) while guarding booty, unattached"
Well tamed mind brings happiness to many. When a person does activities (verbal, mental and physical) with a pure mind, outcomes will be beneficial or happy. Buddha presented the simile of a shadow following a person. A shadow following a person does not bother her/him. Sometimes it may become a companion to eliminate loneliness.
"Mind precedes all knowables, mind's their chief, mind-made are they,
If with a clear and a confident mind one should either speak or act, happiness follows
caused by that, as one's shadow ne'er departing"
All the Buddhas' advice their followers to do wholesome activities. Hence, there are many places that such actions are encouraged. In one place Buddha stated:
"Just as out of many flowers many garlands are created, similarly by a person born into this world many virtuous deeds should be performed"
(the quotations are all from Dhammapada - a collection of short verses in Tripitaka)