Thursday Mar 31, 2005
Stream of Consciousness
Here is one of my favorite Buddhist tales.
An old monk and a young monk were walking along the road when they came to a rushing stream. It was neither too wide nor too deep and they were about to wade across when a beautiful young woman, who had been waiting on the bank, approached them. She was elegantly dressed, and she fluttered her fan and batted her eyelashes, smiling at them with big eyes.
“Oh,” she said, “The current is so swift, the water is so cold, and if my kimono gets wet, it will spoil the silk. Won’t one of you please carry me across the stream?” And she edged invitingly toward the young monk.
Now the young monk thought the woman’s behavior was disgusting. He thought she was spoiled and shameless and ought to be taught a lesson. On top of that, monks are not supposed to have anything to do with women. So he ignored her completely and waded across the stream. But the old monk gave a shrug, picked up the young woman, carried her across the water and set her down on the other side. Then the two monks continued on their way down the road.
Though they walked in silence, the young monk was furious. He thought his companion had done entirely the wrong thing by indulging that spoiled young woman. And even worse, by touching her he had broken the monk’s rule. He raved and ranted in his mind as they walked over hills and through fields. Finally, he could stand it no longer. Shouting loudly, he began scolding his companion for carrying the woman across the stream. He was beside himself with anger and completely red in the face.
“Oh, dear,” said the old monk. “Are you still carrying that woman? I put her down an hour ago.” He gave a shrug and continued down the road»