Radhanath Swami – If you want to control your monkey mind watch this

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Published on Nov 25, 2019 by Radhanath Swami

In 1989, my parents came to visit me in India. I took them to the popular Elephanta Caves, on an island near Mumbai. After disembarking from the ferry, we walked along a dirt footpath through a forest. Suddenly a large monkey leaped from tree and grabbed my mother’s purse. This was culture shock for a Chicago suburbanite, my mother screamed. A tug of war ensued over her purse. The monkey snarled and bared its fangs, then jumped at my mother with a screech. Finally ripping the purse from her grasp, he then darted up a peepal tree. The attack was distressing not only because of its suddenness, but because the purse contained my parents’ passports, airline tickets, credit cards, and all their cash. “Everything is lost,” my father’s sighed. “Now what?” My mother turned to me and said, “You brought us here! What are you going to do?” I said a little prayer. Anyone who has spent as much time in India as I have known how hard it is to “talk” a monkey into returning stolen goods. About fifty yards away, I saw a vendor pushing a small handcart piled high with fruit. I hurried over and placed and pleaded for a banana. He demanded payment. I had no money, my parents had no money. The monkey had all the money. With a hurried apology, I grabbed a banana from his cart and ran away. He let out a Yelp and chased after me with a stick. As soon as he turned his back to his cart, a different monkey invaded it, and the agitated vendor rushed back to protect his goods from this second thief. When I reached the peepal tree, I saw our monkey on a high branch. My mother’s purse was open and the monkey was enthusiastically chewing on her American Express credit card. Aiming carefully, I threw the banana at the monkey, fortunately, it wasn’t a good shot and the monkey had to leap to catch it, dropping the purse in the process. As the monkey happily peeled and ate the banana I returned the purse to my mother. My mother handed me ten rupees for the fruit vendor; I didn’t even think of that. By the end, the vendor was happy, my parents were happy; I was happy and the monkey, relishing its fresh banana also seemed to be very happy. I guess it was a win-win situation. The mind functions very much like that troublemaking monkey, making it hard for us to concentrate on any one thing. What is important to us at one moment is dropped as soon as something else comes along. But like the monkey with the banana, when we give the mind a more fulfilling and beneficial focus, we can easily overcome its distractions.

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