We all love a good story. From the very beginning of language, we have used storytelling to excite, entertain and explain our developing world.
This story is based on a discourse from Maharaj Sawan Singh (1858-1948). Originally a simple tale, I have colored it to meet our western needs and told it in my own voice. It reveals how the mind is often the culprit in our delusion and incorrect perception.
Once upon a yogi time, a woman owned a pet monkey and a goat. She kept both tethered under a tree by her house. One day she was making an elaborate meal for a family celebration. Delicious aromas emanated from the house as dish after dish accumulated on the window sill to cool.
The goat paid no attention to all the activity and nibbled at some small patches of grass at the base of the tree. The monkey watched the woman’s labors with interest and sniffed the air approvingly.
Soon the woman had run out of ingredients, so she grabbed her shopping basket and left the house to buy more. The monkey watched the woman disappear, released his tether, climbed the tree, jumped onto the window sill and ate all the food. He then returned to his usual place under the tree, set the goat free and tied himself up again.
When the woman returned, the first thing she saw was the goat wandering in the yard. The next thing she saw was that all the food was gone from the window sill. Then she saw the monkey still sitting in his place under the tree. She picked up a stick and started to chase the goat.
Just then a wise man happened by. “Good woman, why are you chasing that goat?” he asked.
“He has eaten my day’s labors, and now I have nothing to serve my family for dinner,” she lamented.
The man laughed and pointed to the fat-bellied monkey under the tree. “Then serve the monkey, for he is well-stuffed with sweet meats.” The monkey swiftly untied his rope and climbed to the highest branches of the tree.
Shading his eyes from the afternoon sun, the wise man watched the monkey climb. “See how the monkey is just like the mind,” he said. “A master of scheming, condemnation and avoidance.”
Can you observe your monkey mind today and catch the trickster in the act of incorrect perception?
Image credit: Boston Public Library via Flickr (CC)