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Jennifer Thomas
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THE MONKEY AND THE MOON - Chinese
Retold by Sydney Solis

Download MP3 Recording of this Story (2MB)
Working With the Story
Asana
Meditation and Relaxation

There was once a monkey happily swinging from tree to tree. He swung to a branch where there he saw an amazing sight.

Below him was a pond with the glimmering image of the moon shining in the water. He was amazed by its beauty and brilliant white light.

Hanging on to the branch with one paw, he used his other paw to reach for that beautiful moon. He reached and he reached, but no matter how hard he tried, he could not reach the moon. And he refused to let go of the branch to get closer to the moon.

Try as he might, even until death, he will never give up trying to reach for the moon in the water and he will still hang on to his branch.

But by grace or chance, the branch he was hanging onto broke. The monkey plunged into the water. He slapped around in the water for a moment, looking for the moon. Then he looked up into the sky and -- there! There it was! The monkey saw the moon shining brightly against the dark night’s sky.

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WORKING WITH THE STORY
 Contemplate this story during asana practice, meditation or relaxation.

 Talk about the moon and all its phases. Ask children to name the phases of the moon: the new moon, quarter moon, gibbous moon, full moon, and waning moon. Ask them to notice that the moon itself in phases is an illusion.

 The sun is singular, like the ultimate reality, the atman. The moon, with its phases, is like the world of duality, maya, creating different phases. The phases, however, are actually an illusion, as the sun and the rotation of the earth only make us think the moon has different shapes.

What kinds of things are children attached to? What are they reaching after? Being perfect? Material possessions? Looking good? Negative thinking? Is it going to make them happy if they get it? What frustrates them? What can’t they achieve although they’ve tried again and again? Tell them to let it go.  Like the moon dissolving, let it go. It disappears.  It may be hard, but don’t be a monkey! Sometimes it’s necessary to let go to get to the truth.
How can they let it go? Have them make the exact opposite. I don’t like broccoli. Change it to, I like broccoli. I don’t like homework. I like homework!

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ASANA Practice the moon salutation. Contemplate the phases of every pose. If it’s a TRIANGLE, trikonasana, have children notice the placement of the feet, the hips, the rotation of the trunk, and then finally the extension of the arm. It completes a cycle. Top of Page


Begin in MOUNTAIN POSE, tadasana

JUMP TO SPREAD LEGS WIDE

TRIANGLE, trikonasana

RUNNER’S LUNGE

HALF MOON POSE, ardha chandrasana

STANDING SPLITS

WARRIOR II, virabhradrasana II

BACK TO LEGS SPREAD WIDE

FINISH BY JUMPING BACK TOGETHER INTO MOUNTAIN POSE, tadasana

REPEAT ON OTHER SIDE.

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MEDITATION AND RELAXATION
Drop in an image of the moon. Allow children to clearly visualize it. Tell them to allow the moon to dissolve completely then reappear as something new. Have them notice this constant flux and be willing to let go as it changes form.

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SOURCES

I first heard this story from Tai Chi Master Chuangliang Al Huang at the Esalen Institute. There is a Sufi version with Nassrudin in The Moon in the Well: Wisdom tales to Transform Your Life, Family, and Community by Erica Helm Mead, Open Court; Pap/Com edition, 2001. A Persian version can be found in, Parabola, Winter 2003, volume 28, no 4. As well as a Tibetan one in Margaret Read McDonalds’ Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About, August House, Little Rock, 2005. This is also a version of Aesop’s the dog and the bone, in which the dog sees his reflection in the water, thinks it’s another dog that’s better than him, and he plunges in to fight the dog, only to lose his bone.

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