The Monkey Is Reaching

The monkey is reaching

For the moon in the water.

Until death overtakes him

He’ll never give up.

If he’d let go of the branch and

Disappear in the deep pool,

The whole world would shine

With dazzling pureness.

-Hakuin Ekaku

My wife, daughter and I were sitting by our neighbor’s pool. I was reading a copy of the Shambala Sun.  My daughter was lying in the sun on the pool deck. I started reading the above poem to my wife, as I found it a brilliant illustration of our inability to let go and experience awakening.

As I read, Until death overtakes him/he’ll never let go, my daughter, who I didn’t imagine was paying any attention, but who absolutely loves monkeys, chimed in, “No he won’t”.

She saw the truth in those words. The monkey wouldn’t let go. She was totally present as I read the poem.  Likely more present than my wife or I. Her interjection demonstrated just how I was thinking of enlightenment and holding tight to my branch.  Until death overtakes me I may never let go.


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