My Zen Calendar presented me with the following this morning:
Yan-shan once asked Chung how one can see into one's own self-nature.
Chung replied: "It is like a cage with six windows, and inside is a monkey. When someone calls 'Monkey! Monkey!' at the east window, the monkey answers. Same thing happens at all the other windows."
"Very instructive," said Yang-shan. "But what happens if the monkey is asleep?"
At that, Chung junped down from his straw seat and toll Yang-shan's arm, dancing and saying: "O Monkey! O Monkey! My interview with you is finished!"
More metaphors for the self. More attempts to understand who we are with story, allusion, misdirection, fantasy, imagery, comparison, poetic phrases, frantic pointing and gesturing, and the occasional poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Behind each metaphor are actual perceptions. And behind each perception is an awareness that perceives. A watcher. An observer. An Iamness.
But what if your monkey is asleep? What if your monkey acts like a little tyrant, insisting that he is you and he is in charge because he is the monkey king and you are just a worthless turd?What if your monkey is screeching so loudly you can't hear the subtle music that arises silently out of vast field of awareness? What if your monkey is flinging so much poo onto the windows that you can't see the world clearly any more? What if your monkey stinks so badly that you cannot think clearly for even the moment that would be required to sink into the calm quiet of awareness?
You could kill your monkey. You could capture it and chain it to a wall. You could train your monkey to do tricks and dance while you turn the crank handle on your hurdy gurdy life. But you will still have a monkey after all that. Pushing and fighting with your monkey just gives it power. That is how your monkey got so out of control to begin with.
Or you can make friends with your monkey. Let it know you hear it when it screeches. Clap with appreciation when the monkey does a trick. Laugh when the monkey tells a joke. Then the monkey will grow calm and there will be moments of natural silence. And you and your monkey can gaze out the windows and marvel that the whole world arises out of awareness.
Credits: My Monkey drew those pictures.
My Monkey wrote those words.
My Awareness watched with equal measures of interest, gentle humor, and non-attachment.
You and Your Monkey can go fling poo.