If we understood monkeys….

When talking about the amazing restless of the mind Buddhists often call it the monkey mind. I found this gem from Ajahn Chah on using the mind to understand the mind:

Let me give you an example. Suppose you have a pet monkey at home. It doesn’t sit still. It likes to jump around and grab hold of things. That’s how monkeys are. Now you come to the monastery. We have a monkey here too, and this monkey doesn’t stay still either. It jumps around and grabs things just the same, but it doesn’t irritate you, does it? Why? Because you’re acquainted with monkeys. You know what they’re like. If you know just one monkey, no matter how many provinces you go to, no matter how many monkeys you see, they don’t irritate you, right? That’s someone who understands monkeys.

If we understand monkeys then we won’t become monkeys. If you don’t understand monkeys, then as soon as you see a monkey, you become a monkey yourself, right? When you see it grabbing this and that, you think, “Grrr!” You get angry and irritated. “That damned monkey!” That’s someone who doesn’t understand monkeys. Someone who knows monkeys sees that the monkey at home and the monkey in the monastery are the same monkey, and so why should they irritate you? When you understand what monkeys are like, that’s enough. You can be at peace. If the monkey runs around, it’s only the monkey running. You don’t run around with it. You don’t become a monkey too. If it jumps in front of you and behind you, you don’t get irritated by the monkey — because you understand monkeys, and so you don’t become a monkey. If you don’t understand monkeys, you become a monkey — understand? This is how things grow calm.

Now if only I could understand my monkey!


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