Who is in control?
Why do people cling to an old system that were forced upon them? Even when presented with facts and an alternative people often feel they have no choice, no freedom to change. The following parable may shed some light on this behavior.
The "Monkey Master" is a fourteenth Century Chinese parable by Liu-Ji.
The "Monkey Master"
In the feudal state of Chu an old man survived by keeping monkeys in his service. The people of Chu called him "ju gong" (monkey master).
Each morning, the old man would assemble the monkeys in his courtyard and order the eldest one to lead the others to the mountains to gather fruits from bushes and trees. It was the rule that each monkey had to give one-tenth of his collection to the old man. Those who failed to do so would be ruthlessly flogged. All the monkeys suffered bitterly, but dared not complain.
One day, a small monkey asked the other monkeys: "Did the old man plant all the fruit trees and bushes?"
The others said: "No, they grew naturally."
The small monkey further asked: "Can't we take the fruits without the old man's permission?"
The others replied: "Yes, we all can."
The small monkey continued: "Then, why should we depend on the old man; why must we all serve him?"
Before the small monkey was able to finish his statement, all the monkeys suddenly became enlightened and awakened.
On the same night, watching that the old man had fallen asleep, the monkeys tore down all the barricades of the stockade in which they were confined, and destroyed the stockade entirely. They also took the fruits the old man had in storage, brought all with them to the woods, and never returned. The old man finally died of starvation.
Yu-li-zi says, "Some men in the world rule their people by tricks and not by righteous principles. Aren't they just like the monkey master? They are not aware of their muddleheadedness. As soon as their people become enlightened, their tricks no longer work."
This story, originally titled "Rule by Tricks" is from Yu-li-zi by Liu Ji (1311-1375) and has been translated by Sidney Tai, all rights reserved. Yu-li-zi is also the pseudonym of Liu Ji. The translation was originally published in Nonviolent Sanctions: News from the Albert Einstein Institution (Cambridge, Mass.), Vol. IV, No. 3 (Winter 1992-1993), p3.