7 min read

How to be in control by giving up control

Discover hidden truths of human nature mirrored by Kalahari Desert baboons and how control and attachment shape our experiences of suffering.
The indigenous people of the Kalahari Desert, also known as Kalahari Khoisan
The indigenous people of the Kalahari Desert 

The indigenous people of the Kalahari Desert, also known as the Khoisanโ€”often need sources of water to support themselves on long hunts ๐Ÿ’ง๐Ÿน

To discover a new source of waterโ€”they've concocted an unorthodox method that's quite ingenious.

For centuries, instead of wasting their own precious time & energy, they've used baboons to locate water sources for them ๐Ÿ’

No matter where they are, there's always a high probability that the local baboons will know where the water will be.

But they can't just hit up some random baboon bro and ask him where the water is at, either.

Water is scarce and vital for the baboon's survival, so it's unreasonable to expect it to reveal such classified information, even if it could talk ๐Ÿ˜…

So, the Kalahari Khoisan have developed an ingenious method to trick the baboon into disclosing where the water source is located.

Here's how they do it:

  1. First, they'll catch the baboon ๐Ÿ’
  2. Then, they'll make the baboon thirsty by feeding it salt ๐Ÿง‚
  3. Finally, they'll let the thirsty baboon go free, and it will lead them directly to the water source ๐Ÿ’ง

Sure, outsourcing water finding to a bunch of dumb baboons for free.99 is definitely genius, but that isn't the focus of today's edition of NSP.

Today, we're going to explore the paradox of how relinquishing control gives you more control and freedom.

It's in the same genre as non-resistance and non-attachment โ€” which will always be a running theme around here at Not So Profound.

...and if you recall, I've written about it from different angles, like in:

Non-resistance is important for both easing suffering and navigating psychedelic experiences.

In both cases, the more you seek to control, the less control you will haveโ€”and conversely, the less you try to control, the more control you'll have.

If you're thinking... WTF does this have to do with baboons...

We'll look at how the baboons' need for control and attachment allows the Kalahari Khoisan to exploit & trick them into disclosing their secrets about where water sources are located.

Earlier, I mentioned that the Kalahari Khoisan will catch a baboon, but I never explained HOW they catch it.

Here's HOW they catch the baboon

  1. First, the Khoisan will find where the baboons are hanging out and spot an ant mound nearby ๐Ÿœ
  2. Then, they dig a hole into the ant mound with a stick while the curious baboons are watching them.
  3. Next, they'll drop some wild melon seeds into the hollow space of the ant moundโ€”then they'll go hide somewhere where they aren't easily visible to the baboons, but can still see the ant mound.
  4. Eventually, a curious baboon will approach the ant mound, and put its hand in the hole to investigate (that's what she said... just kidding ๐Ÿ˜…)


This is where things get interesting.

Excited about finding delicious melon seeds, the baboon grabs a handful of seeds and clenches its fist tight.

Now, the baboon's clenched fist is too large to pull back out of the hole, so it becomes TRAPPED by its own volition.

Here's the crazy part...

To free itself, all the baboon has to do is just let go its clenched fist full of seeds, and it can easily remove his hand and escape!

But, it won't.

Because he's too attached to the melon seeds.

His desire to have control over the melon seeds has overridden his ability to let go of them... even if it means he'll have his freedom.

Instead of letting go of control and escaping, it is now screaming in panic while clenching its fist even harder!

It will continue panicking without letting go until someone casually walks over to it and captures it.

The baboon could have easily escaped and been free by letting go of control, but all of a sudden, it's tied up as a prisoner.

Pretty crazy, huh?

What's crazier is that we humans are also quite similar to this baboon.

In an uncertain universe devoid of security, we are constantly clenching our minds to control the world to match our expectations.

...and as a result, we cause immense suffering to ourselves voluntarilyโ€”at the expense of our freedom.

Next time you're experiencing a stressful circumstance (which is just around the corner, by the way)โ€”notice how you're clenching your mind and holding on too tightly to the stressor.

When you're holding onโ€”the stress and suffering will only exacerbate, and you will end up trapping yourself where you've imprisoned yourself voluntarily.

Just like a baboon.

It doesn't matter whether it's melon seeds OR seeking someone's approval OR being attached to some outcome OR [insert your current reason here] because you'll end up in the same place.


If you'd like to have more control than you'd ever imagine, stop trying to control life and circumstances altogether.

Don't be a baboon.

That's your reminder today ๐Ÿ˜‰

May you be fully out of control...
Your friend,

โ€”Dr. D


P.S. By the way, just in case you're curious or skeptical about the baboon story above, here's an actual video of the Kalahari Khoisan using a poor baboon to locate a water source. Yes, it's real ๐Ÿ™Š๐Ÿ˜…

Mustafa's Meme
Me trying to find my place in this world

What Mustafa's Pondering

โญ = Mustafa's favorites

๐Ÿ“š Education: A free 10-week course about the science, culture, and history of psychedelics by UC Berkeley's Professor David Presti via Edx. Also, if you recall, I shared this free course by MAPS in a past edition of NSP โญ

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๐Ÿ““ Opinion: The Return of the Philosophy of Psychedelics (and Why It Matters) discusses the growing interest in the philosophy of psychedelics and its historical roots, highlighting its significance in addressing philosophical questions related to reality, consciousness, metaphysics, ethics, and more, as well as its potential impact on psychedelic therapy and the understanding of exceptional human experiences via Sam Woolfe.

๐ŸŽค Interview: Retired Home Builder Jim Carroccio on Being Oregon's First Psilocybin Client via The Microdose โญ

๐Ÿ”ฌ Study: A study examined reports of DMT experiences and found that some individuals report a sense of familiarity during their trips, even without prior experience with DMT or other psychedelics, and this feeling might be akin to dรฉjร  vu - familiarity without recollection; the reason behind this sense of familiarity remains uncertain, with possibilities ranging from the drug triggering the recall of intense but forgotten memories to enabling access to an objective reality beyond our own via Big Think โญ

๐Ÿ“ฐ News: Can Psychedelic Therapy Fulfill Its Big Promise? via Washintonian

๐Ÿ“บ Video: If you're/were a fan of fake WWE wrestling, here's a clip where Mideon is telling a story where he was high on LSD during a famous television event [4:01]

๐Ÿ“บ Podcast: Model collapse in the psychedelic realm, which explores whether mystical or metaphysical experiences induced by psychedelics are real or hallucinations, and how this affects the ethical dilemma in psychedelic therapy via Essentia Foundation [55:46]

๐Ÿ“บ Podcast: Psychedelics, Neuroplasticity, LSD, Psilocybin, Ketamine, MDMA, Psychedelic Science with Bryan Roth via Mind & Matter Podcast [1:17:19] โญ

๐Ÿ’ฐ Business: Canadian psychedelic company Optimi Health filed a patent for a proprietary process for extracting psilocybin from mushrooms, which increases the potency while maintaining the botanical attributes of the mushroom.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Policy: Seattle doctor Dr. Aggarwal is challenging the DEA to reclassify psilocybin from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, arguing that the DEA's declaration that psychedelic mushrooms lack medical value contradicts the FDA's designation of psilocybin as a breakthrough therapy; the case is pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The reclassification would potentially make psilocybin more accessible for medical use and research, benefiting individuals with conditions like depressive disorder, PTSD, and end-of-life anxiety. Kudos, Dr. Aggarwal & Counsel Martinez!

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Policy: Dr. Fontana has proposed a $5 billion bond initiative, called the Treat California Initiative, to create a new state agency for studying the effects of psychedelic-assisted therapy, including drugs like LSD, ketamine, and psilocybin, to treat mental health issues such as PTSD and substance abuse, with the aim of gathering support to place the measure on the November 2024 ballot in California via The Sacramento Bee (non-paywall)

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Policy: California State Senator Scott Wiener's Senate Bill 58 aims to decriminalize the personal possession of safe and well-researched psychedelics, allowing for regulated and professionally supervised psychedelic therapy for mental health, with the goal of transforming mental health care, as evidenced by studies showing their safety and efficacy via OC Register

Mustafa's Art Corner
Mustafa's Meditation
Faith is a state of openness or trust.
To have faith is like when you trust yourself to the water.
You donโ€™t grab hold of the water when you swim, because if you do you will become stiff and tight in the water, and sink.
You have to relax, and the attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging, and holding on.
In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe becomes a person who has no faith at all.
Instead they are holding tight.
But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.
โ€”Alan Watts