Today I’m going to share a zen parable about how we can set down the mental baggage we carry and find freedom right where we stand.
There’s a well known parable about this.
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a wide river they would have to wade through to get to the other side. As they were about to cross the river, a beautiful young woman who had been attempting to cross on her own asked them for help to get to the other side.
The two monks hesitated for a moment because they had both taken vows not to touch a woman.
Then in the next moment the older monk picked up the woman, carried her carefully across the river, and placed her gently on the other side.
The two monks then continued along on their way.
For the rest of the day as they travelled, the younger monk was replaying in disbelief and dismay, the scene back at the river. The older monk had broken his vow. He couldn’t believe it. Hours passed in silence as the younger monk continued to ruminate on what had transpired.
As the hours passed not a word was spoken between them.
As the sun set that day finally the younger monk could not contain himself and blurted out “How could you? Why did you carry that woman and break your vows?”
The older monk looked at him with a serine smile and said “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river many hours ago, why are you still carrying her?”
Like that young monk, how often do we carry around our resentments, our grievances, our judgements and bitterness when we could easily have set them down hours, days or even years ago?
We all go through times in life when other people behave in ways we might not like or we experience pain, heartache and disappointments. This might help to provide the conditions for tumultuous thoughts and feelings to arise but the rest of the suffering, we inflict upon ourselves – ruminating, stewing on things, holding grudges and resentments and mulling over our problems.
Ultimately all this does is weigh us down and make us full of anger, tension and negativity.
But like the older monk, we too can simply stop carrying all that mental baggage around with us in the mind. We can set it down and instead be present and at ease right where we stand.
If you think about it, it’s a kindness to ourselves. If something was already painful or difficult why prolong it by dragging it around with you all the time?
So as much as possible remember to set down what is no longer serving you, lighten your load and bring your focus back to fullness and aliveness the here and now.
The more we can do this the more we can find inner freedom right where we stand.
Wishing you ease and strength in the days ahead, Melli x