Devotional: The Three Orangutans


There once were three orangutans who loved to swing through the trees and jump over and on top of each other and play tug of war. They were well-known in the forest. Their reputation preceded them. They had a way of showing up uninvited and could ruin any party. Once they had arrived, it was nearly impossible to get them to move on.

The first orangutan’s name was Fear. Fear was the largest of the three. Fat. He would lumber in and plop down right in the middle of a path that some creature of the forest was planning to take. He would just plop down there and put his figures in his ears and his toes in his nose as orangutans do, and the one on the journey would be stuck and unable to walk around the big creature. Fear was in the way.

If one would approach this big hunk of fur, he would look at you with eyes of worry as if to say, “I wouldn’t go that way if I were you. There are scary things down that path, you best turn around, or just stay here with me and enjoy sucking these ants on the ground.” Fear could not be moved. He was too big. Many creatures in the forest have never reached their destinations because of that big, ol orangutan.


The second orangutan was beautiful, and he knew it. His name was Ego. Ego could fly higher than any other orangutan. He loved to show his power and skill wherever he went. Ego liked to sit on the head’s of other forest creatures and cover their eyes so they couldn’t see where they were going. He would sit up there and laugh and laugh, covering their eyes, moving them in the direction he wanted them to go, preventing them from seeing any other creature in the forest. He loved to manipulate all of the decisions in the forest. Once Ego landed on another’s head, it was nearly impossible to get him off. He felt important there you see and he was certain he knew the direction every forest creature should take. Many creatures found themselves walking blindly through the forest because of Ego.


The third orangutan was a little thing. But don’t let her size fool you. She was little and she appeared to mean well. Her name was Attachment. Attachment liked to cling to the legs of her fellow forest creatures. She was so little and cute at first the other animals didn’t seem to mind her. “What difference would it make if she came along?” the would ask. “Maybe we need her.” Attachment would snuggle in and look up with her big eyes and convince whomever she was clinging to that they could not live without her. Slowly, one would try to get Attachment to get off and move on. But by then she was so wrapped around the creature’s leg that it was nearly impossible to peel her off. Many creatures found themselves burdened by Attachment’s constant presence.

Fear, Ego and Attachment. Those three orangutans. Have you seen them lately? They like to play with each other, you see. In fact often you see them together looking for some creature in the forest to harass. If you see them, you cannot run away from them, they are too conniving for that. You must acknowledge them. They don’t know what to do if you acknowledge them. Most creatures like to avoid them and pretend they aren’t there. But that only makes them want to play more. Once you acknowledge them, stroke their heads. Tell them you recognize them for who they are and that they aren’t bad orangutans and you know they mean well. After they receive a little attention, be still. Very, very still. Like a tree or the wind. Be mindful in your stillness. Breathe and be content with where you are. Be grounded. The orangutan will wonder, “what are you are doing? Why aren’t you playing? Where did you go?” They will find that in your stillness you aren’t willing to play. And slowly, Fear will get up and lumber away. Ego will jump down and scamper off. And Attachment will step away. And you will be free.


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