Grape or no grape?

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There is a show called Brain Games that comes on the National Geographic Channel. It gives fascinating facts on why we do things, how we think and even how our senses can trick us. One particular recent episode had to deal with anger. It was a truly amazing episode.

A scientist had conducted an experiment with two monkeys. They were in cages side by side. When the monkey on the left grabbed a rock from a hole, the monkey was rewarded with a piece of cucumber. When the monkey on the right grabbed the rock, he was rewarded with a grape.

Grapes on a vine.

It was baffling to see the monkey mind that we are also capable of. (Photo by Kevin)

Well, these monkeys prefer grapes. And sometimes the monkey on the left was allowed to smell the grape, and then it would be given to the monkey on the right. It was eye-opening to see the reaction of the monkey on the left. He would start yelling, rattling the cage, beating the side where the other monkey was at, and he would even stick his arm out of the hole with the rock and try striking the scientist. It was baffling to see the monkey mind that we are also capable of. The monkey on the right was calm. But what would have happened if the monkey on the left started getting the grape, and the one on the right started getting the cucumber?

Also, this episode showed a coach, a boss and a mother yelling and angry. And then a neuroscientist talked about a way to not get upset when people are yelling at you. He said,

What if the coach just found he had cancer; the boss’ house just burned down; and the mother just got fired? When we view others as suffering, our anger quickly fades into the void.

This is wisdom and compassion. What this neuroscientist was describing was the science of the Dharma.

Back to the two monkeys—why did the monkey on the left get mad? It wasn’t really the grape. It was the idea of someone else getting something better. Aren’t we the same? When I see someone being praised and I am not—I hit the cage. When I see others going home, whom I feel will not be productive citizens—I rattle the cage. When I see women laughing at other men’s jokes—I throw the rock.

But I can let go. With grape or no grape, the yelling and aggressive behavior can come to a halt, Buddha nature can take precedence and compassion will take root, and the sun wisdom can open the eyes of all!

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