I love this story – a story I have to read often to remind myself not to hold on to negative emotions. There are many versions of this story – Catholic, Jewish, Japanese and many more – this is my favourite version because I can relate to the younger monk being bewildered by the rude women’s behaviour. As we approach the most stressful time of the year and deal with rude people in shopping malls or on busy streets – remember to let bygones be bygones – easier said than done but not impossible.
ZEN BUDDHIST STORY
Two monks are walking along a country path. They soon are met by a caravan, a group of attendants carrying their wealthy and not-so-kindly mistress and her possessions. They come to a muddy river, and cannot cross with both mistress and packages – they must put one down and cannot figure out how to do so. So the elder monk volunteers to carry the woman across the river, on his back, allowing the attendants to carry her things, and then all can go on their way. The woman does not thank him, and rudely pushes him aside to get back to her caravan.
After traveling some way on their own, the younger monk turns to his master, and says, “I cannot believe that old woman! You kindly carried her across the muddy river, on your very own back, and not only did she not offer thanks, but she actually was quite rude to you!” The master calmly and quietly turned to his student, and offered this observation: “I put the women down some time ago. Why are you still carrying her?”