Let go of your Banana
In India there are a lot of monkeys. When the locals want to catch one, they anchor a bottle to the ground. The neck of the bottle is just large enough for a monkey's hand to fit into. Then, they put a small banana in the bottle, sit back and wait.
The Monkey Trap
Before long a monkey comes by, sees the banana, reaches his hand into the bottle, and grabs it. But then, the monkey discovers that he can't get his hand out of the bottle while holding onto the banana. There is loud chattering and squealing as the person who set the trap walks up to the monkey and places a burlap sack over him. In the darkness the monkey releases the banana and is captured.
The monkey could, of course, let go of the banana, and ran before getting caught. Some do. But most of the monkeys hang on to the banana until the sack goes over their head. Why? Because the banana has value to the monkey and the monkey is unwilling to let go of that value. So unwilling that he gives up his freedom for it. People do the same thing.
The People Trap
People get trapped by their thoughts in the same way monkeys get trapped by the banana.
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "I get through many a bad night with the thought of suicide." Suicidal thoughts had value for him; comforting him when he felt down and depressed, easing the pain of his sadness. Unfortunately, these thoughts that seemed to help, also trapped him in the depression, like the monkey was trapped by the banana. He, and the monkey, could have let go and gained their personal freedom.
The religious person has thoughts of "heaven" to get through troubled times. The business man has thoughts of "making more money" to keep him going. The gambler has thoughts of "hitting the jackpot" to comfort him; the drug addict thinks about the "next fix;" the alcoholic, the "next bottle," etc. We are all, to some extent, trapped by our own limiting thoughts.
Thoughts color all our decisions. A suicidal person seldom makes good life choices because they dislike themselves and feel they have no future. The religious person may endure much abuse and discrimination because they feel resolved in the future, and the business man may actually cheat, lie and hurt others in his pursuit of money because he is trapped by intense thoughts of wealth.
You are not your Thoughts!
Thoughts arise from beliefs. If we believe life to be bad, we will expect bad things to happen. Beliefs are like filters, allowing what we expect to experience, and diminishing, or eliminating, things we don't expect to experience. That is why understanding our thought processes is so important. We are not our thoughts. We are in control of our thoughts and our destiny at all times whether we know it or not. We create our own reality with our thoughts and beliefs.
Diogenes refused to bow before Alexander. As solders moved to kill Diogenes, Alexander stopped them and asked: "I am Alexander the Great, I have conquered the world, why do you not bow to me?" Diogenes replied: "because I am Diogenes the Cynic, and I have conquered myself." After a moment's thought Alexander stated: "were I not Alexander, be I Diogenes, go in peace." Being in control of your thoughts is very powerful, it means freedom and peace of mind. If you can't be Alexander, be Diogenes.
Changing your World
To change your world, change yourself, the world will follow you. It has no meaning until you give it meaning. What you believe about the world is reflected back to you as reality. You can change it any time you wish. Is the world bad because you see no good in it? Yes! Is the world good because you see no bad in it? Yes, again! What you see is what you get!
Now, it is possible to see beyond good and bad; happy and sad; real and fad. There you will find peace of mind. There you will find the self-knowledge you seek. There you will find freedom. But you have to let go of your banana to get there.
Letting go of your Banana
Khalil Gibran wrote: "Forgetfulness is a form of freedom." How many times have you heard the old adage "Forgive and Forget." The path to freedom flows through forgiveness to a nonjudgmental attitude to unconditional love. All will walk that path eventually.
Forgiveness releases the hate, depression, and angst from your life forever. If you would say right now: "I forgive you world for all the hurt I feel, and I forgive myself for feeling them," three times with meaning, you would notice you felt better for doing it. Forgiveness is the key to personal freedom. It unlocks the hurt and releases the pain.
If you can forgive, then you can be free. There is more information on forgiveness throughout this book. Forgiveness clears the past and the mind. You will then be able to make better choices by letting go of your limiting thoughts.