Maybe 8 or 9 years ago, I bought the book ‘Life after Death: The Book of Answers,’ by Deepak Chopra. It was the first spiritual book I ever read, and started me on the long road to trying to understanding my deeper self and the universe around me. My friend has an interesting post today on his blog called The Monkey Mind. I am sharing this parable in response to his post, as it has always been a favourite of mine since I first read it.
“Show me how the trick works,” Savitri said.
“All right. I’ll tell you the story of a monkey who was shut inside a small room in a castle tower. Nothing was happening in the room, and the monkey was restless.
“The monkey could only divert himself by going to the window and looking out at the world. This distracted him for a while, but then he started to think about his situation. How did he get in this tower? Why had he been captured and put there? The monkey’s mood began to darken. There was nothing to do, no one to talk to. These thoughts made him more and more depressed. The room seemed to close in; the monkey started to sweat anxiously. No, he suddenly realised, I’m not in a room, I’m in hell. Quickly his depression grew into anguish and anguish into torment. The monkey saw demons all around inflicting every imaginable pain.
“This is it, the monkey thought. I am in eternal hell. And so the torment continued, getting worse and worse. The monkey saw no way out. But gradually the monkey got used to his torment. How much time had elapsed? The monkey couldn’t remember. But he began to feel better about his surroundings. It wasn’t such a bad room, not really. In fact, it was rather pleasant to be by oneself looking out the window at all the fascinating things going on outside.
“Bit by bit the demons stopped torturing the monkey and withdrew. He began to feel better, and soon the day came when he was feeling optimistic.The monkey grew more cheerful, and then . . .” Ramana broke off. “No doubt know where this parable is headed.”
Savitri nodded. “The monkey is going to heaven.”
“Exactly. He starts to feel better and better, until he imagines himself in Paradise, and instead of being punished by demons he is being soothed by angels. Ah, the monkey thinks, I am in eternal bliss.”
“Until he gets bored again,” Savitri remarked.
Ramana nodded. “The monkey is the mind, sitting alone in the tower of the head. As the mind expands with pleasure and contracts with pain, it creates every possible world, constantly falling for its own creations. The monkey will believe in heaven for a while, but then boredom will set in, and being the seed of discontent, boredom will pull him out of heaven and back down to hell.”
Savitri felt despondent. “So we’re all trapped. That’s horrible.”
“Only if you agree to be trapped. I didn’t say the tower was locked,” said Ramana. “There is an infinite domain outside the castle walls. Take your mind outside the walls. There is freedom outside, and having achieved it, you will never be forced to go to heaven or hell again.”