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Siska (@editor_in_chic) told me this short story a few months back and it got stuck in my head. The story is about an old monk and a younger novice monk who traveled together. One day on the road, they met a young lady who looked confused. The novice monk asked the young lady what was bothering her and she told him that there was a puddle of water blocking the way and she didn’t know how to cross it without getting wet. The old monk approached her and said, “Let me carry you through.” and he did. 

The old monk carried the young lady on his back crossing the puddle of water and when they reached the dry part of the ground, he let her down. She thanked him and continued her journey. The novice monk was confused and furious. Aren’t monks not supposed to touch or embrace someone of the opposite sex, let alone carry her? He kept thinking about this the whole journey, building up rage inside of him. 

So later that day, they reached a small village where they could rest. By this time, the novice monk was filled with so much anger and he couldn’t rest well, he couldn’t meditate well, he couldn’t even eat well. His mind was full of the ‘inappropriate’ thing that the old monk did. So at one point when he no longer be able to contain his anger, he barged into the old monk’s room and yelled at him, “Why did you carry the lady? It was highly inappropriate! Don’t you know that monks are not allowed to touch someone of the opposite gender?”

The old monk, who was meditating before he got interrupted, slowly opened his eyes and calmly answered, “I did carry the young lady, but I left her there after we crossed the puddle. But you, you are still carrying her, even until now.” 

***

This story made me realize that I do what the novice monk did all the time. When I encounter a problem, I let it get to me so much, I couldn’t do anything else right. Even though I’ve heard this story months ago and realized the message behind it, I still couldn’t master the lesson. People always say stuff about moving on. But have they mastered the art of letting go? Most importantly, is it even possible to let go of our ego? Even for our own good. 

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