Q. What is monkey mind?

A. When a monkey is in front of a mirror, it mistakes its reflection for another monkey and tries to attack it or play with it. That is, the monkey is being deluded by its own reflection. 


Monkey mind implies sentient beings’ minds that are deluded by the illusions created by themselves. Ancient masters would say that before enlightenment you see things in the same way a monkey sees its reflection in a mirror, but after enlightenment you see things in the way a mirror sees a monkey. A mirror reflects everything just as it is, but never discriminates for or against it however attractive it may be, or however ugly it may be. So, enlightened mind is referred to as the ‘Grand Perfect Mirror’. 


Student: What is monkey mind? 

Master: You a stupid donkey! 

Student: Why do you abuse me instead of answering my question? 

Master: Thats monkey mind. 

Student: “What is the Grand Perfect Mirror?” 

Master: Monkey mind. 

Student: What is the difference between them? 

Master: “If you can see monkey mind clearly, that is the Grand Perfect Mirror. If you can’t see the Grand Perfect Mirror, that is monkey mind.”   


©Boo Ahm 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway 

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