Two monks were on their way to a temple in a distant town. They came to a road that was flooded quite badly, and as they were about to cross, one of the monks noticed a young girl who also wanted to get across. Seeing that her clothing would have ended up saturated, he picked her up and carried her across. The monks continued their long journey and walked for several hours in complete silence. Eventually, the other monk could hold his silence no longer and said, “back there, that girl” “You know that us monks are not even meant to look at females, but you carried her across the road”. “Yes”, the other monk replied, “but I put her down hours ago.” “You, on the other hand, appear to be still carrying her.”
This parable demonstrates the effect that old, stale mindsets and ideas can have on us. One monk simply saw another human being that was in need of a little help and acted accordingly. Whereas the other monk walked for hours in agitated silence, when he could have chosen instead to enjoy the journey.
This is the same as holding grudges; it does nothing but poison the spirit. It is a human trait, to cling on grimly for dear life to old ideas that no longer serve us. One monk is centred in the “now” and enjoys the peace and tranquillity of the journey. The other monk has his “now” invaded by agitation, which is the result of fear. The fear of going against something steeped in tradition. The stupidity of it all is that it was not even his action that went against convention, but he took it upon himself to become agitated by the action of his companion.
Everything serves its purpose in its time, but the spirit is free and not meant to be tied by convention and tradition. In observing what we believe to be old sacred traditions, we quite often only succeed in tightening the veil of ignorance that keeps us in bondage. This also applies to views that we hold about ourselves and others, which are the result of years of conditioning. It is the inability to let go of “that which no longer serves us” that is very often at the root of our pain and suffering.