Monk or Monkey Mind?

March 16, 2010

Most people today, before they enter a spiritual path, are made miserable by a mind that is out of control. The ego mind is wild, savage, selfish, filled with lusts, anger, greed, demands, judgments, hostile disregard for the feelings of others, it is utterly self-ungovernable—and yet at the same time it is weak, unbalanced, irrational, emotionally unstable, incapable of perseverance, humility, or clarity, or of full dedication and cooperation with others. Yogis refer to the ego-mind as the monkey-mind. The first task of a new yogi upon entering the path to the Supreme Liberation is gaining control of this monstrous monkey mind.


The problem, of course, is that the newly minted yogi is still burdened with the monkey mind. How can a person achieve dedication to the goal of governing his own ungovernable mind? The monkey mind will not agree to its own taming. The answer lies in the fact that the monkey mind is not one’s entire consciousness. There is a margin of awareness that lies beyond the monkey mind. This marginal awareness must gain the strength to overcome the monkey by making an alliance with a spiritual guide who has gained such self-sovereignty. Through the development of a deep, trusting, candid relationship, centered upon the open exploration of the soul of the disciple, and a gathering recognition of the power of their bond of love to strengthen and stabilize the soul, the disciple will gradually internalize the power of spirit such a guide transmits. This will create and augment an inner center of legitimate authority that can step-by-step further the process of disciplining and elevating the monkey mind to finally recognize its true divinity.


In Indian mythology, the divinized monkey mind is personified in Hanuman. The monkey god Hanuman served Rama, the avatar of the Supreme Being, in the great war to free the soul, His beloved Sita, from the clutches of the devil, the many-headed Ravana, and his army of demons. This eternally relevant epic, the Ramayana, tells the deep story that is being lived out in all of us every day of our lives. The more consciously aware one becomes of the playing out of this archetypal project in one’s own soul, the more easily one will gain power over the demons that torment