Buddhist Parable / by Krista Boivie

Ancient Buddhist parable

A group of monks is returning to their monastery from a long pilgrimage. Over high mountains and across low valleys they trek, until one day they came to a raging river, where a beautiful young woman stands. She approaches the eldest monk and says, “Forgive me, Roshi, but would you be so kind as to carry me across the river? I cannot swim, and if I remain here or attempt to cross on my own I shall surely perish.” The monk smiles at her warmly and says, “Of course I will help you.” With that he picks her up and carries her across the river. On the other side, he gently sets her down. She thanks him, departs, and the monks continue their journey.

After five more days of arduous travel, the monks arrive at their monastery, and the moment they do, they turn on the elder in a fury. “How could you do that?” they admonish him. “You broke your vow—you touched that woman!”

The elder replies, “I only carried her across the river. You have been carrying her for five days.”

The monks carried the woman in their hearts for days; how often do we carry around our burdens, griefs and hurt.

What does it take to set those aside?