We all carry deep wounds — painful regrets about things we’ve done, festering resentments about what has been done to us. A fable retold by Carl Richards captures these burdens and the heavy cost of not letting go of them…
Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.
The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk; she just shoved him out of the way and departed.
As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then, she didn’t even thank you!”
“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”
If you are like me, you easily identify with the young monk. We may glimpse the wisdom of the older monk and desire to live accordingly.
The incriminating insight for me is the shocking recognition that I also behave like the prissy princess all too often — another burden I carry and need to set aside.
This truth is something I will carry with me and try to unpack again and again.
Carl Richards credits Jon Muth’s book Zen Shorts for his story. Carl Richards’ fine essay appeared in the August 23 New York Times and can found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/23/your-money/the-cost-of-holding-on.html?_r=0