There’s a story made popular by Jon Kabat-Zinn about how hunters used to catch monkeys in India. They would cut a coconut in half, hollow out one side, and drill a hole in the center that was just big enough for a monkey to put its hand through. After this, they drill two smaller holes on each side of the coconut, pass a wire through, and secure the coconut to the base of a tree. Then they place a banana inside the coconut and hide. The monkey comes down, puts their hand in and reaches for the banana. But the hole is crafted in such a way that the open hand can go in, but the fist with a banana cannot get out. The hunters see this and start to walk toward the monkey. The monkey pulls to get away, but can’t. Eventually they just pick up the monkey, and that’s how it’s captured.
The interesting thing is that at any point, all the monkey needs to do is release their hand of the banana. But they’re so attached to what they want that they refuse to let go, blinded by the fact that holding on is actually leading to inevitable harm.
As humans, we, too, can be so blinded by our ideas of what we want and need, oblivious to how these desires and pursuits are causing us great suffering.
What are you holding onto in your life that may be causing you more harm than good?