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Thread: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

  1. #1

    Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    Once, a wise monkey and a stupid monkey were foraging for ants at the base of a tree. Along came a hungry tiger, chasing the monkeys up into the lofty branches. The stupid monkey, upon reaching the highest point and realizing it could go no higher, sighed in resignation and waited to be eaten. The wise monkey jumped sideways, into the branches of the next tree. The tiger, leaping after her dinner, fell to her death far below. Both monkeys survived... which is it better to be?

  2. #2

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    I'm stumped. The tree?

    I'll have to meditate on this :P Thanks!

  3. #3

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    It has occurred to me that this post may appear as a 'joke' or a fanciful diversion, inappropriate to the forum... when I wrote it I intended it as a 'parable' sort of thought experiment, something simple to get the mind to look at itself. I actually am very interested in how others may answer the question! I have my own thoughts on it, but will wait to post them so as not to color the thoughts of others.


  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Shugen's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Redding California USA

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    This has been stuck in my head for a couple of days . I think the answer depends on your point of view. For the monkeys, the only thing that matters is that they survived to eat ants another day. I, of course, think the "smart" monkey did the right thing because he didn't give up, he acted. But I have no idea how much was just dumb luck and how much was intelligence. How smart is a monkey anyway?

    Hopefully, this will leave my head now,


  5. #5

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    Warning! Spoiler! I'm gonna go ahead and post my thoughts on the monkeys, so I can get it out of my head. My thoughts should not in any way be construed as a "right" answer!

    There are three characters in the story; I would be the tiger first, the stupid monkey second, and the wise monkey last. Here is why:

    The wise monkey is attached to life. He gives no thought to his stupid friend, and reacts purely out of fear. He lives, but his attachments are reinforced by his success.

    The stupid monkey goes as far as he can and then calmly sits. He knows he may die, but doesn't get worked up over it. When he survives, it is not because of anything he did. I imagine when things settled down, he calmly climbed down and continued to forage for ants.

    The tiger died a good death in the single-minded pursuit of her true nature, which was to eat monkeys. She did not dislike the monkeys, but followed the course nature had set for her. When she died, it was not frivolous, meaningless or confusing.

    I realize this is a fairly shallow interpretation, but considering my short time with Zen, I will allow myself a lack of depth. Any thoughts :?:


  6. #6

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey


    My immediate thought, with no reflection whatsoever, was that it would be better to be the tiger because she was being true to herself, following her true nature, not hung up on life/death/injury/right/wrong. My second thought was that to be the wise monkey wasnít the way to go, but couldnít articulate why, and that the stupid monkey showed an acceptance that made more sense than the action-oriented wise guy. Your thoughts articulated what I couldnít after my very shallow pondering. Thank you! Will continue to mull this over.


  7. #7

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    The monkey is the monkey and the Tiger is the Tiger.

  8. #8

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    I would be the tree ... realizing there is no tree to be ... and that there's included all of tiger and monkeys, one and all, in its branches.

  9. #9

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    I was going to change my answer:

    Where's the Monkeys, and where's the Tiger?


  10. #10

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    Actually it's not a matter of wise or stupid.

    The first monkey went as high as it could possibly go.
    The second monkey wanted to climb as high as possible but was blocked by the first monkey, forcing it to jump.
    Had the second monkey climbed first, it would have sat at the top of the tree and been designated the "stupid" one. The other would have jumped and been called "wise".

    JohnH :?

  11. #11

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    excellent observation John! I like that.

  12. #12

    Re: Wise Monkey, Stupid Monkey

    I'm going to "go out on a limb" here (hardy-har) and go for the obvious "shallow" approach.

    I'd be the wise monkey.

    Having qualified the beings in question, you've assigned value judgements from without. Remaining on the outside of this as well, I'd have to assume these labels carry an excessive amount of weight. You've essentially asked me if I'd prefer to be wise, stupid, or hungry - assuming these are the options. I choose wise as it seems in the story, and in life, it is best to be wise.

    No matter how "noble" a bodily death may seem, it is still death and generally unpleasant. the first rule in following your nature in biological existence is to continue to live it not?

    So how are the monkey's not following their "nature", by the way?

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