In ancient Korea, monks lived in
monasteries that were relatively secluded from the outside world. They took
vows of poverty and celibacy, while living very simple, yet contemplative
As part of their commitment to celibacy, the monks vowed never to touch or come in contact with members of the opposite sex. On a rare outing outside the monastery, two monks journeyed on foot to a nearby village to purchase supplies for the upcoming winter. As they approached the village, it began to rain heavily. The entrance to the village was blocked by rainwater and mud. As they proceeded to wade through the muddy barricade, the monks noticed a beautiful young woman in a formal kimono (wedding dress) seeking temporary refuge from the rain under a large tree just outside the village.
“Please help me get to the village. I am on my way to my wedding and I need help in passing over this water and mud so as not to ruin my dress,” the young woman called to the monks.
The older of the two monks then proceeded to pick up the young woman and carry her over the mud and to the village. Thrilled that her dress was protected from the elements, the woman thanked the older monk for his kindness.
The monks went about their business of shopping and collecting supplies and when finished began their long journey back to their monastery. The younger monk remained unusually quiet until finally reaching the entrance of the monastery.
“How could you do that? How could you break your vows?” he exclaimed, not being able to contain himself any longer.
“Are you speaking of my act of kindness in assisting the young woman over the mud at the entrance to the village?” the older monk asked. “If so,
I left her at the village. It seems however, that you are still carrying her!”
Can you see how this story may be
applicable to your family life, social/leisure life and work environment? The
younger monk continued to worry about the older monk’s behavior, while the
older monk simply did what he felt was right, and then moved on.
The universal truth revealed by this ancient tale is the futility of continuing to carry regrets from the past. How often do we make a mistake, or take an action we later are sorry about – and although it’s over, we continue to think about it, worry about it, lose sleep over it? Perhaps there was a conversation, business transaction, or a conversation with an associate you wish you could go back and do differently.
The lesson is to stop holding on to burdens of the past and free yourself to embrace the possibilities of the present and future. It’s like the cup that’s too full to allow more tea.
By hanging on to issues that perhaps
went awry – perhaps even incidents that happened
years ago – we are unable to freely move forward in productive ways.
Take time to assess your current conflicts. Take inventory of your negative feelings about people, places or processes. Identify what burdens of the past you continue to carry. Then, like the older monk, let go of them in order to make room for a promising future.