In ancient India hunters developed a proven method for catching monkeys. The monkeys were quick by nature and clever enough to dismantle all kinds of traps set for them. The trap that they couldn’t dismantle involved a simple trick that trapped them in their own nature. A big coconut would be found and hollowed out. Then a hole would be made in it, just large enough to allow a monkey’s paw to pass through. The coconut would then be pinned to the ground and some tempting, fragrant fruit would be placed inside the hollowed shell.
Inevitably, a monkey would approach the shell full of desire for the fragrant food it could smell and almost taste. As soon as the paw of the monkey had slipped through the hole and grasped the food inside the trap, the poor fellow would become caught because the fist holding the food was too large to pass back through the hole in the shell.
In order to become free of the trap all the monkey had to do was let go of the prize that it coveted so much. More often than not, the hand that held the desired fruit would not let it go. Thus, the monkey was trapped by what it desired and held onto no matter how near freedom might be. Release from the entrapment was right at hand and just within their grasp. However, most would stay trapped and imprisoned, caught by a narrow desire, but also by a fierce and blind unwillingness to simply let go of what they held to be necessary or important.
People can be just that way. Many take hold of something and refuse to let go, even when they become stuck in one place, even if they can’t taste the sweetness they first reached for in life. Some hold onto another person and refuse to let go, even when each part of the relationship becomes a trap. Others take up an idea, a political belief or a religious notion that was supposed to set them free. After a time, they become trapped inside narrowing ideas or rigid rules. Next thing you know, they are caught in a trap made of their beliefs.
Change is hard because we hold onto what keeps us from changing; because freedom feels like losing something that we are used to clinging to; because real change means that we would no longer desire what others insist upon and no longer restrict ourselves to the game at hand. Fate may be what we wish to deny when claiming that we are free; but it is also what we unconsciously cling to in order to avoid letting go of who we think we are.
— Michael Meade, Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul