Monkey Wisdom

Keys to Wisdom

Once, a man living secluded in the forest had been a monk. He left the monastery, seeking a higher calling. The reason? Penance, contrition, forgiveness – all extolled – in a place that locked its doors! Such contrary notions, acceptance and exclusion, left a bad taste in his mouth. So he left the monastery and threw away the keys, leaving them buried deep in the forest. Subsequently, he attained a deep wisdom.

The forest sage was approached by a fool one day as he was sitting on a rock, meditating. The fool was astounded by the calm tranquility in the man’s gaze and his beatific face. He said, “How have you found peace? Are we not lowly servants of the one god, and, as such, are we not meant to suffer?”

The sage smiled. “True,” he said. “Yet, go no further!”

The fool was confused by his words. He went away muttering, saying, “What a fool. He realizes peace not out of wisdom but out of stupidity.”

The next day, the sage was gone. The wandering fool observed, wryly, “Hm. Blown away like the fall leaves, I suppose. A tree without roots…hah!” Just then, the sage appeared. His expression was changed, his eyes, burning, like two hot coals. He said nothing, but pointed towards the monastery. The fool was frightened.

He fell to his knees. “Please, have mercy! What do I do?”

The sage continued pointing. The fool, seeing no recourse, crawled away slowly. As he reached the forest’s edge, he turned his head around. The sage was no longer stern. Instead, his expression had changed to a paternal smile. He ceased pointing, lowering his arm. Then, the former monk nodded to the poor man. Speechless, the fool got to his feet, set his gaze on the monastery, and entered. The forest sage chuckled. “Poor man,” he said amusedly.

The sage sat on his rock. His eyes went from smiling, to a pensive, downward gaze. He meditated again, this time on a single word: “monkeys.” He no longer felt angry, but contented. He had lost his hatred of the monk keys.

Split Identity


On the way to this position in my life
I have been both united and disunited.

I see that wisdom means simply Unity of Mind
And that is what I struggle for by means of understanding.

Not the void or emptiness, or even thesis-antithesis
But a kind of synthesis in which my past makes sense.

I was two people, Tony and Ty,
Each needed the other to get by,

But when the problems came, they split in two
And each struggled for the dominant role in my soul

To bring them back together is my task
By acknowledging the extremes they represent

One, the pleasure seeker, the other the austere
Most people meet in the middle there

But I must give each some scolding
For the other is now unfolding

I must be less extreme if I am to live
Or else, my sanity sacrificed, I will give

All my possessions away and follow
Jesus in the literal sense, yet feel hollow

For I do not need to emulate a saint–
I simply need not be so faint

With others, I must express myself,
And alone, I must guard my health

For there is the secret of true wealth
The good, beautiful and true

Socrates knew this to be the ends
And Aristotle called it golden

To be temperate in everything you do,
And to return to the truth of you.

What is absolutism? What is relativism? And why should I care??

This is a short essay I wrote on Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, as regards absolute truth versus relativism. His belief in Christianity and his simultaneous opposition to it demonstrates an internal conflict between the relative and the absolute. That is, the relative truth is appealing to the world of the senses, allowing one to feel free in his or her own skin. But the absolute is another thing entirely: it requires the sacrifice of the individual self in service to the universal consciousness! To realize the absolute, Kierkegaard points to the example of Socrates and his “daimon,” or guiding spirit. In this way, relativism and absolutism can coincide, in the form of individual, god and the resulting “truth” produced.

Kierkegaard’s Faith
My Philosophy

The question Kierkegaard asks is, “how should I act”. Socrates asks the similar question, “how should I live”. The difference between acting and living? Acting is in service to the self while living is in service to others. Does this make Kierkegaard a selfish philosopher? Evidently, though what he was aiming for was a selfless life.

This service to the private rather than the public appeals to me because I, like Kierkegaard, am a private individual. While I wish I could be more of a public gadfly, like Socrates, my gift is one of drama and thought, like Kierkegaard. Does this mean his mission is the same as mine? No. He took Socrates for his model because of his maieutics and irony. I take Kierkegaard as my model for his theatrics and service to Christ.

What about the daimon? Socrates believed he had a mission from the gods, that is, to find out what is meant by wisdom. Kierkegaard’s very different mission was to point out hypocrisy and reform the church through a Socratic, self-examined life. My mission is to understand my inner daimon through a life devoted to the arts. Why the arts? Because that is where both my interests and my strengths lie. Just as Socrates and Kierkegaard had their strengths, I have mine.

So why is Kierkegaard an ideal model? Not so much because of his mission or daimon, but more so, because of his temperament and lifestyle. He tried to reconcile the Kierkegaardian curse invoked by his father with the piety of his brother, a self-imposed thesis, antithesis and synthesis. My synthesis is a dialectic between eastern and Western thought, between Buddhism and Christianity. What is at the heart of this matter? I think I am asking the question, “what should I be”! Identity is at the core of myself and my country.

I am not a prophet or superman. I am a mediator, a peacemaker, an ambassador. I speak for godspirit, my daimon, which is both a blessing and a curse. But ultimately, I believe. Not because I am good or true, but because I choose to. This is Kierkegaard’s active life in the spirit.

20131020-214031.jpgKierkegaard guarding the Cross