09/05/2012 01:46 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2012

Don't Take It Personally

In Taiwan there is a device known as a Taiwanese monkey trap. It is a simple box made of open wooden slats. A banana is placed inside the box, and it is clearly visibly through the open slats. There is a hole in the box just large enough for a monkey's open hand to reach through. Once the monkey has a grip on the banana, the trap is sprung: The monkey now finds the hole is too small for a closed fist clutching a banana to pass back out again. There is actually nothing holding the monkey in the trap -- except for its attachment to the banana. The monkey will stand there, one arm in the box firmly clutching the banana, for hours, even days. The monkey will remain there until the trappers return to bag the poor, distressed creature easily, for the monkey will not relinquish its grip on the banana.

Before you laugh too hard at the monkey's behavior, consider that all human beings have much in common with both the monkey as well as the trap. How could we, the vastly superior beings, possibly be emulating this ludicrous creature, you ask? Well, once we get our perceptual grip on something, we oftentimes will not let go of it to save our lives. As long as we have a death grip on taking everything in life personally, we're caught in a life of suffering and limitation.

We have to learn a new habit: open the personal perceptual fist that has become so tightly closed around that "taking it personally" banana, and move freely into the universal world, which simultaneously lives and thrives all around us. Only our relentless attachment to perceiving things as a personal event holds us in this limited place of suffering, while a greater choice is always available to us, inviting us to let go of the personal one, and move freely forward, empowered as a universal one -- the all-powerful, perpetual plantain.

Taking things personally damages our universal vision. It contracts our perception of self into a very small and narrow point in time. It limits and restricts our sight; it misguides our higher inclusive wisdom. When reliving the injuries incurred along the path of life, we forget that this is but one small segment of an infinitely-larger journey. We become amnesic to the reality that these events are the tempering forces that break our hearts open and offer us the gift of loving larger. These personal affronts are how we evolve into one who chooses to love like they have never been hurt before. These "plantain" perpetrators of pain in our lives have come to offer us the opportunity to grow beyond the limits of our stories, of our ego likes and dislikes, of the fragility of the temporal world. Life is a gift, learning is the challenge, evolving is the purpose.

If there is validity to the "hundredth monkey" theory, then it is indeed time we all taught ourselves to let go of the banana and simply walk away from the misguided "personal" into the expansive universal. For that is our birthright, that is what we are divinely designed for, and that is where the truth that sets us free will at last be found. Oh, and now that my hand is out of the trap, I'll have the banana split... to go.

Vaishali learned to transform her life from the threat of two terminal disease diagnoses, domestic abuse and financial devastation. Completely recovered, she shares her wisdom @ Join Vaishali at the Alive and Healthy Conference ( on March 23 and 24, 2013 10-4 p.m. aboard the Queen Mary in Los Angeles.

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