What Are You Still Carrying?

Written by Mark McElroy

A simple Zen story offers great wisdom in few words.

While reading about ways to improve myself, I came across a story I wish I’d found many years ago. Its simple message is one I’ve needed to hear, and, had I heard it earlier, I might have saved myself many years of suffering.

On a stormy day, Tanzan and Ekido, two Buddhist monks, were making their way from the inner city back to their distant country temple.

As they walked through the downpour, they saw a beautiful young woman standing at an intersection. The street before her was flooded, and a deep, swift river of churning rainwater stood between her and her home.

Without hesitation, Tanzan swept the young woman up in his arms and carried her across the street, depositing her at her door.

Later that evening, when Tanzan and Ekido arrived back at the temple, Ekido could no longer restrain himself. He turned angrily to Tanzan and exclaimed, “It is forbidden for us monks to touch a female, especially one so beautiful! It is dangerous! How could you do that?”

“I left the girl at her door,” Tanzan said. “Why are you still carrying her?”

So few words. So much wisdom.

Photo: A snapshot of one of many babbling streams we walked past on a rainy day in Norway.

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