Friday, April 28, 2006

Carrying Things

Once upon a time, there were two monks who went on a pilgrimage across the country together. One day, they came to a river bank and saw a beautiful girl who was unable to cross the river.

Seeing her difficulty, the elder monk volunteered to carry her across the river on his back while the younger one looked on in consternation.

When the sun went down, the monks came upon a dilapidated shack and decided to stay there for a night. The elder monk quickly fell asleep while the younger one twisted around, unable to calm his mind. Finally, he woke up the elder monk and reprimanded him for what happened during the day. "As monks, we are supposed to keep away from women. I am really ashamed and troubled by what you did today!"

The elder monk looked at his friend and a smile broke up on his face. "Oh, so that has been what has been making you twist around. That is what is bothering you! Brother, I have left the girl behind by the river bank, why are you still carrying her around?"

In our struggle to define this notion of self, we often hold onto feelings that create in us suffering. In our definition of ourselves, we have created systems of how things "ought" to be. "I love X, so she should love me." "Y shouldn't behave this way." "Z should do what I requested."

Like the young monk we twist and turn and often stay up at night carrying these thoughts and feelings around with us. These thoughts and feelings can lead to intense suffering. They can cause us to feel depressed or anxious.

What are you carrying that you should have left at the riverbank?


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