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Carrying the Burden: A Zen Tale

A pair of Zen monks, a master and his pupil, went on a journey to visit another convent. As monks do, they walked much and spoke little.

On the third day of their journey, the two came to a fast flowing river, and saw that there was a young woman sitting there in a beautiful dress.
Image by: freedigitalphotos.net / hinnamsaisuy 
As she saw them, she got up and ran towards them in excitement.

"Please," she begged of the master, who was clearly the one in charge, "would you carry me across this river? I'm ony my way to my loved one, and I don't want to ruin this dress, it is the best one I have."

The student was shocked at her audacity, after all, his master was a holy man, and her touch would be unclean. But before he could say anything and to his surprise, his master agreed to carry the woman.

And so he did, against the strong current, wading and pushing his way forward until he put her safely on the other side, weeping in joy and thanking him again and again.

The two monks continued to walk in silence, day after day. Until, on the third day, the pupil could no longer hold his tongue.

"Master," he said, "why did you carry that woman across the river?"

His master looked at him with a slight smile and said: "You have learned much, but you still lack some wisdom, my student. 

That woman weighed on my back for 3 minutes, and then I was done. But she has been weighing on your mind for 3 days..."

And like the monks, so are we. It is better to carry a load and then put it down and forget about it. Things that happened in the past should be left there. We do not need to carry our past mistakes and misery with us, but to look to tomorrow out of hope and the knowledge our fate is up ahead...

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Related Topics: story, monk, moral, zen
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