One day Two Buddhist Monks who were on a long journey approached a raging river. On the river bank stood a beautiful young lady. She approached them asking for help to cross the river as she feared drowning. The first monk walked ignored her and crossed the river. The second monk picked up the woman and carried her across the river. He placed her down, they parted ways with woman and on they went with their journey.
As the journey went on, the second monk could see some concern on the other monk’s mind, he asked what was wrong. The monk replied, “how could you carry her like that? You know we can’t touch women, it’s against our way of life”. The second monk answered, “I left the woman at the rivers edge a long way back, why are you still carrying her?”
This has to be one of my favorite zen stories. I have narrated this story so many times that I have lost count and each time I narrate it, I appreciate it a little more…
What I have realised is that its very easy in life to get carried away with the flow of information. I have always been vary of the thoughts I was carrying with me and the disadvantages of their burden.
Very often we carry with us just a singular opinion of an incident and with that come assumptions and prejudice. Things change over time, the perpetrators forget the incident and yet we continue holding onto the assumptions and prejudice. I think it was Buddha who once said “Being angry at someone is like holding onto a burning piece of coal to throw it at them, we are the only ones getting burnt”
One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in life is that no matter how good you are, no matter how well planned you execute a task it will never make everyone happy. And that sometimes the only way to get the peace of mind you seek is to simply let go.