The Monkey Puzzle


The latest avatar of the liminal to wash up from the depths on the Shoreline. Uncertain how to interpret it, I posted this image to a well-known social media site and invited readings. The results ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, but the one that seemed to me to crackle with truth was the suggestion that this was a manifestation of Hanuman, the monkey-faced deity of the Hindu patheon.



50ft Hanuman in Karnataka, India

50ft Hanuman in Karnataka, India

Still, I struggled to interpret it. Hanuman plays an important role in the Ramayana, the Indian epic which tells the story of Rama and his struggle against the demon king Ravana. Having puzzled through the various stories associated with Hanuman (go here to try for yourself) I felt none the wiser. Interpreting the artefacts that wash up from the depths on the Shoreline is, of course, a subjective business, but there must be some spark of recognition, some convergence of the objective and intuitive, and I could find none.

Some writers link Hanuman with Thoth, the Ancient Egyptian deity variously depicted as having the head of a baboon or an ibis, and this might have been a convenient route to follow, given the longstanding Egyptian theme here and the fact that Thoth has considerable personal resonance for your correspondent. But look again at the stony visage in the top picture: let’s face it, that’s not a baboon, is it.

And so no interpretation presented itself, nothing ignited in the crucible. Until I realised why.

Hanuman symbolises the mind: the powers of consciousness but, more specifically, the mind’s wandering, erratic nature – what practictioners of Eastern meditation techniques call ‘monkey chatter’ – the ceaseless, fruitless mental babble of anxieties great and trivial, trifling distractions and transient enthusiasms. The ‘monkey chatter’ that must be tamed if we are to awaken into awareness.

My mulling over of meaning, my nervous picking at the fabric of the Shoreline’s grand design, was so much ‘monkey chatter’. I had to try to switch it off.

It would be self-defeating to attempt to analyse this further.

5 responses to “The Monkey Puzzle

  1. The ocean is a teacher; sometimes it’s difficult to be a student to such a vast and mysterious master. Yet it did inspire you to think; and to think most deeply! The sea must appreciate the delicate attention to pay to each of the gifts you find along her shoreline. Therefore I think she will give you high marks; who knows what your next assignment will be?

  2. The ‘ridiculous suggestions’ were enjoyable, fun, but not suitable for preservation, it seemed to me. In this era where everything can be documented, I like the idea that some things are still allowed to be ephemeral… washed up on the shore, then swept away by the tide.

  3. Pingback: To See A World… | The Haunted Shoreline

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