"The Elephant Path," described by the monk Asanga in the 5th century AD, is a central tool in The Mind Illuminated.
It is a detailed map, dividing the process of training the mind into ten distinct stages, starting from the point of never having meditated before, all the way to awakening and the complete liberation from suffering. Each stage has its unique characteristics, challenges to overcome, and specific techniques for addressing them. Climbing up the stages represents the gradual improvement of our meditative abilities, like milestones marking progress.
The map makes it easy to orient in the mind's activities, realize its workings, identify our current location, and understand how it's best to move forward. Instead of getting lost in the jungles of consciousness, we're following a clear route, with a campus, a professional guide, GPS, a satellite phone, and all the gear we need to reach our final destination safe and sound.