I would like to share one such story with you today, the credit for which goes to Michael Kewley; author, Buddhist Monk and inspiring teacher and meditator. Michael if you're out there, thank you.
I first met Michael about ten years ago whilst he was running a meditation group. His story-telling was captivating - I only hope I can do this story justice. The story's moral has remained with me and I have retold a version of it to hundreds of inspiring assertors, leaders and entrepreneurs - really anyone who would listen to me. To this day they tell me how poignant the message is for them. I hope you value it too.
It is said that in ancient Japan, hunters would go into the forest to lay traps in the ground to capture monkeys. They carefully dug a hole, deep and wide enough to place a narrow-necked jar into it. They placed the jar in the hole and then covered around it with soil, leaving the jar’s neck still visible.
The hunters cut up an apple, placed it into the jar and took their leave, returning to the village for a glass of Saki. Meanwhile, the monkeys, who had been watching from the safety of their lofty branches, ventured down to the forest floor so they could claim their prize. Surely, it was too easy.
The monkeys gingerly placed their hands into the jar and reached for the apple. Gathering up as many of the pieces as they could, they started to pull out their hands, motivated by the feast awaiting them. Alas, they were so full of apple that their hand would no longer fit through the jar’s narrow neck.
Try as they might, they could not pull out from the jar and return to the safety of their trees, armed with their treasure. Yet with grit and determination they held onto that apple, hoping that some divine intervention would release them from their trap. Little did they realise that just simply letting go of the apple would secure them their freedom, which was about to be stolen.
After a while, the hunters returned to the forest to find the monkeys still working out an escape route and in one simple move, the monkeys were slain and the next trap set. If only the monkeys had released the apple, they would have been free to live their lives. Sadly, they paid the price of holding onto something they thought was important, yet kept them trapped in a place of eternal suffering. So what is the moral of our story? Quite simply, we fill our lives with 'stuff' that we hold onto, sometimes needlessly. We grip it so tightly that it generates an emotional association, which gets blocked inside us. So we find ourselves manifesting pain, discomfort and anxieties, all because we're not letting go.
What apples are you holding onto that could be causing you to suffer? What are you gripping so tightly that you get headaches, stomach pains or back ache? Perhaps you are generally feeling heavy or tired because of the strain that the holding on is causing you and that is stripping you of your freedom to be well and happy.
You might argue that some things need to be held - sure there could well be specifics that need our focused attention because it has a serious impact elsewhere in our lives. Although I'm talking about those unhelpful, unnecessary things we hold onto. For example, I used to get really frustrated about clothing being left on the floor and not put in the washing basket. Getting angry about it certainly was not resolving it, it was just making me ill and putting a strain on my relationship. So I learned that in the whole scheme of things, it really was not important and I learned to let it go - and, I'm pleased to say, many other orchards full of apples. To this day I still remind myself of the little things that I hold onto that are not serving me any purpose and that just need releasing. Thanks to this technique, I can now put my energy into things that really matter, rather than pointless, unproductive issues that are just not important.
What would happen if you could let go of those unnecessary worries? What freedom could you experience by just letting go? If you could name one apple that is causing you pain, what would it be and how easy would it be to release it? Letting go of 'stuff' can be a great step towards greater well-being as it gives positive energy for better things. So go release some apples today and feel better tomorrow.
Butterfly BlessingsKaren x