You Can’t Do That

The human mind takes an aggressive stance when expressly forbidden to do something. Adam and EveThe story begins with Adam and Eve, the forbidden apple and the tempting snake that manages to throw the couple out of paradise.

In Indian thought as well, we have the sacred and holy elixir called Amruth after which both the Devas (gods) and the Asuras (the discordant clan) thirst and  seek. When they are told not to hanker after this elixir as it would cause a churning that will bring up both good and evil from the milky ocean, both the groups refuse to listen.Churning

The churning takes place and sets free the wish giving cow, Kamadhenu and a series of events to capture and own her. It also brings to the surface the bitter gall or poison that can be imbibed by Siva alone. His partner Shakthi holds his neck tight so that the poison is locked in his Adam’s Apple in the neck and thus giving him the name Neelakantan or the One with the Blue neck.

Another famous story of somebody who was told ‘You can’t open the box” was Pandora. She fought her instinctive desire to know what was in it….but finally she gave in to the temptation and let out all the evils of the world.Pandora

In Indian thought the mind is often described as a monkey! Why a monkey?

Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering and twittering on endlessly. The Buddha said that we all have monkey minds with a multitude of monkeys clamouring for attention.

Buddha said that meditation was ideal to tame the drunken monkeys in our minds. Pragmatically speaking, it is useless to fight with the monkeys or to try to banish them from the mind because anything that you resist takes on a huge form and occupies the most space in the mind. monkey mind

A renowned scholar was interested in gaining supernatural powers. He heard that a monk in Tibet could help him gain these powers and so he travelled on an arduous journey through the Himalayas to meet him.

The monk told the scholar that the mantra to gain supernatural powers was a simple one. “Just say ‘Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchami three times” he said, “but don’t think of monkeys.’’

The scholar thought that this was an easy way. ‘‘I am such a learned man. Why should I think of monkeys when I chant the mantra?’’ But when he sat down to chant the mantra, the first thought that came to his mind was that of monkeys. However much he tried to set aside the obtrusive though and image of monkeys, the monkeys roamed all over his consciousness until he lost his peace of mind.

monkeys in the mind

Seeing his helpless condition, the monk smiled and said, ‘‘If you force your mind to travel in a certain direction, it will go the other way.’’

Buddha said, “Instead, if you will spend some time each day in quiet meditation — simply calm your mind by focusing on your breathing or a simple mantra — you can, over time, tame the monkeys. They will grow more peaceful if you lovingly bring them into submission with a consistent practice of meditation”.

Fear is the loudest monkey that keeps sounding the alarm incessantly saying “Don’t do this” and ‘Don’t Do That’. This fear rules the minds of parents especially and they spend most of their time with their kids pointing out all the things that they should be wary of and everything that could go wrong.

Are parents able to keep their kids out of harm’s way…no the forbidden apple, the milky ocean, the box of Pandora and the monkeys of the mind take over their existence. The only thing that can come to the rescue is a solid value system that is not taught but lived as a code of conduct by elders that will kick in at the appropriate time.

This is a blog for LBC, the group that writes every Friday or thereabouts on one topic. Do have a look at the viewpoints of seven other bloggers AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi,, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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8 Responses to You Can’t Do That

  1. rummuser says:

    At this rate, like my friend Ramesh calls me Swamiji, all your friends will start calling you Swamini Padmini. Actually, it rhymes and sounds good too.


  2. lin heinz says:

    once again an incredibly beautiful and well-thought-out piece. thank you.


  3. Maxi says:

    You write the best posts, Padmum. “A solid value system that is not taught but lived … indeed.
    blessings ~ maxi


    • padmum says:

      Thank you
      ..I think all your posts and other blogs by our group are top notch submissions….it satisfies the basic idea of making us think…. To look at a topic from different perspectives. Bless you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. KRD Pravin says:

    That was wonderful…. Liked each story and lesson… Swamini Padmini ji 🙂


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