My blog tonight is inspired by a wonderful story my friend Kelsey shared from a wonderful book she gave me for my birthday. As luck would have it I had just heard this story for the first time a couple of months ago. The story hits home on many levels and has been in the back of my mind for the past few days.
Here’s a version I found online, enjoy!
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.
The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.
Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.
Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”https://medium.com/@soninilucas/two-monks-and-a-woman-zen-story-c15294c394c1
If it didn’t quite sink in all the way please know it’s okay to re-read it. It’s taken me several readings of it and much thought focused on it to get me to my current level of understanding of it. The funny thing is that while it is so simple I’m continuing to find more and more ways to apply this to my life.
It’s a story of living in the present. A story of forgiveness. A story of letting go. A story of doing right. A story not letting the past weigh us down. A story of action. A story of integrity. A story of the folly of assuming all rules make sense all the time. So many different layers to pull out of this one story, and I’m sure there are many more to go.
With all that is going on in the world I’m amazed at the ability of a simple and short story from so many years ago can help guide me in the right direction in life.