The meaning of monkey in Dharma

BY Pok Oi
MAY 09, 2020

The Monkey

Bhikkhus, there are rugged areas in the Himalayas, the king of mountains, where neither monkeys nor human are found. There are rugged areas where monkeys are found but not humans. There are delightful, more accessible regions where both monkeys and humans are found – and there hunters set out traps of sticky pitch along the monkey trails to catch monkeys.

When they see the pitch, those monkeys who are not foolish of impetuous by nature avoid it warily. But a monkey who is foolish and impetuous by nature approaches the pitch, seizes it with its paw and gets stuck. Thinking, “I will free my paw”, it grabs the stuck paw with the free paw and gets stuck. Thinking, “I will free both paws”, it uses a foot and gets caught there. Thinking, “I will free both paws and my foot”, it uses the other foot and gets caught there. Thinking, “I will free both paws and feet”, it applies its mouth and gets caught there.

Thus, bhikkhus, the monkey, trapped in five ways, lies there whimpering. It has met with disaster and the hunter can do with it as he pleases. The hunter spears it, fastens it to a block of wood and goes off where he wants. So it is, bhikkhus, when one strays outside one’s domain into that of others.

Therefore, bhikkhus, do not stray outside your own domain and into that of others. Mara will spot an opportunity among those who stray outside their own domain into that of others, and Mara will get a hold on them.

For a bhikkhu, what is not this proper domain? It is the five strands of sensual pleasure: the forms recognizable to the eye, the sounds recognizable to the ear, the smells recognizable to the nose, the flavours recognizable to the tongue, the tactile sensations recognizable to the body. For a bhikkhu, these are not his proper domain.

Move, bhikkhus, within what is your proper domain, your own ancestral area. In one who moves within his own proper domain, his own ancestral area, Mara will not gain an opening, will not get a hold.

And what is a bhikkhu’s own proper domain, his own ancestral area? It is the four kinds of mindfulness. What four? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body – ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings… mind in mind… phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. This is a bhikkhu’s proper domain, his own ancestral area. 

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