Feeding The Monkeys

The Buddhist analogy for the mind being like a bunch of crazed monkeys jumping about and chattering is often used in spirituality and pop psychology.

What feeds the monkey-mind is attention, interest and belief in the reality of thoughts. It nourishes them, makes them stronger and gives momentum to the mental chatter. (And of course, trying to make the mind ‘shut-up’ also feeds the monkeys.)

Stop feeding them and its power is reduced. Therefore a commitment to meditation and turning one’s awareness to the present moment is a huge value — but not an ultimate solution.

The Buddha spoke of the mental activity of grasping and clinging to thoughts like monkeys grasp on to branches. At the root of this is a deep belief in the reality of the separate individual. Which is to say, clinging to identification as an ego, with its never-ending list of fears, needs and desires.

This tendency to cling to ‘me’ mostly goes unnoticed, because the ego is so deeply accepted as real, it is rarely questioned. When the ‘I’ is real then the world is real, and then all of the problems; “what’s wrong with me… what’s wrong with them…” and the monkey-mind can start chattering like crazy.

When one stops to investigate the reality of the separate “I”, the ego is revealed to be mind-made, and the field of consciousness stands out as core of one’s Being.

The monkeys bow down in grateful humility to the heart of Being.

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