Nonsectarian invocation #3
San Marcos City Council
July 21, 2009
Rabbi Kerry Baker of Austin
There is a parable in Robert Pirsig’s renowned book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” In this book, the author explains a device called the South Indian Monkey Trap that was developed by native villagers to catch the small animals who would often wreck havoc on their camps.
The South Indian Monkey Trap involved a hollowed out coconut shell chained to a stick. Inside the coconut was placed a bit of rice visible to the monkey through a hole just large enough for the monkey’s hand, but too small for his fist to come out after he grabbed the rice.
Tantalized by the food, the monkey would reach into the coconut and become trapped. He was not able to see that it was his own fist that trapped him–his own desire for the rice.
If he were to let go of the rice, he could easily withdraw his hand, thereby retaining his freedom. But he valued the rice too much, preferring to remain stuck where he was easily captured by the villagers.
May we have insight in the council’s upcoming deliberations to know when human obstinacy, desire, passion, and need keep us chained rather than freeing us to pursue our best selves and our best interests.
And may we all have the strength to let go of the rice that is holding us back from listening to our better angels and supporting the community’s shared goals and values.
Take a moment to pray that the council’s working together may be meaningful and productive, and that the community’s agenda will meet with success for all of the constituents of the council.
Let us all say “Amen.”