I LOVED WATCHING Monkey when I was a kid. It was funny and nutty and exotic and for many of us then locked in the cultural insularity of the suburban West, it was our very first introduction to Eastern culture and thought.
“Little creature you are not an ordinary monkey. You were nourished by the five elements of this planet, and have received the energy of heaven and earth from the beginning of time. You are the force of human life. You need to find the human world and to help a monk called Xuanzang to obtain the purest Buddhist scripture on earth. Once the sutra is secured, humans will achieve the real knowledge of life and death.”
Perhaps for many of us it was this crazy pop cult taste of the Orient that might have first set us on the path to looking deeper into the wisdom traditions of the Eastern Hemisphere; or, for me, to being open to investigating the idea that “Buddhism is more than a religion”, as the Dalai Lama has famously said, “it is a science of the mind.”
Certainly it was this precise and profound understanding of the workings of the mind (as opposed to the mechanics of the brain) that has since proven to have had a profound influence on contemporary understanding of the nature of mind and consciousness …
Which is my roundabout way of explaining the genesis of the name monkey flower for this blog (ergo: I can’t really apart from the fact I thought it sounded cool and has a tenuous link with a Japanese cult classic TV show/the affect of buddhism as a mind science on Western understanding of the mind and consciousness).
Or you could put it this way: monkey flowers are stories, ideas, insights, perceptions to help tame the monkey mind.
On a spectrum that has scientific materialism at one extreme, empirical research and the solidly anecdotal in the middle, and the rampantly esoteric at the other, monkey flower floats somewhere between empiricism, expert testimony and the wildly speculative.
Not straying too far out without its oxygen supply, in other words, but keeping an open mind.
Just as a further aside, the monkey flower plant is so called because its shape is reminiscent of a cartoonish ape (hence the logo).
Meanwhile the flower of the monkey orchid (a different plant to the monkey flower entirely), looks uncannily like a monkey — thanks to the psychological phenomenon, Pareidolia – where our minds read faces in inanimate objects.
It’s what you’d call real monkey magic.
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