Last night I attended a weekly meditation group here in my town and I heard an interesting lecture about letting go in order to receive. The speaker gave a wonderful example of this, and here’s how it goes.
In India, they have a creative way of capturing monkeys. They tether a coconut to a tree. Then they cut a small hole in the coconut, but large enough for a monkey to slip his hand in. They hollow out the inside and place a banana in it. The monkey sees the banana and reaches in to grab it. As his hand is now in a fist wrapped around the banana, he can’t get it out of the coconut. He’s now become caught. If the monkey realized that he could just let go of the banana, he would be able to slip his hand out and run to freedom.
This directly speaks to the Kleshas, the afflictions that keep us stuck in life. There are five: ignorance (avidya), ego-attachment (asmita), attachment to pleasure (raga), aversion to pain (dvesa), and clinging to life out of fear of death (abhinivesah). When we think about it, how many of our daily decisions are influenced by any one of these? The monkey held on to the banana because it was a source of pleasure, but it ultimately led to his undoing.
Christian Scientists talk about “right reason.” When our decisions are based on right reason, we normally can’t go wrong. When they are based on ego, that’s where we get jammed up. Not that ego is a bad thing; we need our egos. They help give us a sense of who we are. But when ego-attachment leads to selfish behavior, fear of loss (or death), or running from pain, it defies our ability to really be with that experience of pain and eventually move beyond it to a greater sense of freedom.
Next time you are faced with an important decision, take a moment and really look at yourself and your motivation for that decision. You’ll know deep in your heart if it’s klesha-driven or right reason. If your decision is based on right reason, you’ll know. Even if it initially brings discomfort, see if you can stay with that discomfort. Allow your feelings, thoughts, emotions to surface. Observe them without attachment to them. They will eventually dissipate like bubbles rising up to the surface of a lake and disappearing into the air, replaced by a sense of calm and stillness.
Peace to you.