Posted by: sistermom1 | March 13, 2011

Letting Go of the Rice

Last week I read something that really inspired me and made me think about my current reality very differently. 

The writer shared an ancient story about the way monkey traps were set.  They hollowed out a coconut through an opening cut to the size of a monkey’s open hand.  Rice was put in the coconut and it was left where a monkey would find it.  Eventually, a monkey would pass by and smell the rice and reach its hand in.  Holding the rice, the monkey could not get its hand out.  It was too stubborn to let go. 

“As long as the monkey maintained its grip on the rice, it was a prisoner of its own making.  The trap worked because the monkey’s hunger was the master of its reach.”

Reading this made me stop and consider — What am I holding onto?  What is my rice, and why can I not let it go?  Nepo continues

“…the real challenge of surrender, for all of us, is not just letting go – but letting go of something we yearn for”.

I yearn for a cure.  I want it in every cell of my body.  I think of it most days — most of the time, even when my days seem to be going pretty well.  The lack of a medical solution to my daily challenges taunts me randomly from many corners of my daily life.  On the days when my movements are compromised — times when I am overcome with frustration about the difficulty of movements that were so simple not so long ago — I feel overcome by my daily struggles.

Like the monkey stuck with its hand tightly closed around the rice – not knowing that only letting go will lead to complete freedom, I have been holding tightly onto the words/encouragement/advice of the many medical professionals who I see each week.  Waiting for one of them to say at any moment that all will be well, and that they have developed a cure.

But what does letting go really mean?  After much prayer and reflection, I am beginning to see that it means believing that the answer is coming, not in my time, but in the time.  And until it IS time, I must enjoy the life that I am blessed to have – not blindly, and not without doing what I can to get to a cure, but with both a hand and spirit that are open to the things that can make my life even more enjoyable. 

Holding on to my hopes for a cure in the future keeps me stuck in what amounts to a holding position — waiting for something that will come whenever it comes, while my life with my husband, kids, extended family and friends moves forward — with or without my active participation.  After reading this section of Mark Nepo’s wonderful book, I pledge to enjoy my life right now at this very moment, with an open hand.



  1. Dear SisterMom1


    Thank you so much for your insight today. The profound story you shared about the monkey being a prisoner of its own making touched and taught me today and helped me to let go of a “a coconut full of fear” today.

  2. Dear Linda: This is the first time that I’ve been introduced to a blog. I’m like a dinosaur when it comes to new technology. I can clearly say at this moment I can see, feel and hear your heart your sensitivity your humanism your insight your wisdom. . You are such an inspiration to so many people. Sometimes it’s not necessary to meet someone face to face but if you can share your life’s experiences with the stroke of a pen much like President Ikeda. Reaching and touching people that you have never meet in the physical sense but when it comes to the matters of the heart your love touches people in places that you never imaged you would reach.
    I will always embrace the memories of the days that we crossed paths at the many Buddhist activities especially the “Cherry Blossom Parade”. You are such a phenomenal woman and I can only say that because of you and your sparkling smile and incredible strength that I am so encouraged by you. Your writing’s your words are so meaningful like painting a picture of your life with a brush full of color and scenery.

    My little full hip replacement is nothing now that I’ve read your experiences. Sometimes I believe that it’s through our unique life challenges rather there physical or mental as long as we chant Nam myo-ho renge kyo and stay in the moment we will always win.

    Please come to visit me in St.Croix a wonderful place for healing and rejuvenation. My house sits facing the beautiful Caribbean Sea and it’s accessible for you and your family.

    • Hello Diane!
      How wonderful to read your kind words. Thanks so much for taking time to check out my blog. I definitely continue to struggle to make my life a positive example of a person working to be the best I can be every day. I hope to be a great example of the kind of life you can have while practicing this great Buddhism — despite my challenges/opportunities!
      Wonderful to get your email — please keep in touch, and I hope that all is well with you!

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