Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lightening the Load

I have been pondering this zen story:

Two monks, going to a neighbouring monastery, walked side by side in silence. They arrived at a river they had to cross. That season, waters were higher than usual. On the bank, a young woman was hesitating and asked the younger of the two monks for help. He exclaimed, 'Don't you see that I am a monk, that I took a vow of chastity?'

'I require nothing from you that could impede your vow, but simply to help me to cross the river,' replied the young woman with a little smile.

'I...not...I nothing for you,' said the embarrassed young monk.

'It doesn't matter,' said the elderly monk. 'Climb on my back and we will cross together.'

Having reached the other bank, the old monk put down the young woman who, in return, thanked him with a broad smile. She left her side and both monks continued their route in silence. Close to the monastery, the young monk could not stand it anymore and said, 'You shouldn't have carried that person on your back. It's against our rules.'

'This young woman needed help and I put her down on the other bank. You didn't carry her at all, but she is still on your back,' replied the older monk.

How difficult it is to let go of the burden of resentment and hurt . . . 

One way that I have been able to lighten my load, is through the contemplation of 'this moment'. Realizing this is the only moment, precious, and not to be spoiled by the untamed mind's agitations. 

What do you do when you find your heart weighed down? Please share.


  1. The only way to gain the ability to do this is to practice doing it. A lot.

  2. Observing sensations to find out what prompted this feeling.

  3. This post of mine is kind of in the same vain.
    Thank you for reminding me of that story, need to keep that in the forefront.

  4. dreaminginthedeepsouth, yes, practice, and life presents many opportunities as right now for me . . .

  5. WasOnce, observing sensations, thoughts, emotions, the whole bag of hindrances spurred by this particular situation. I find dwelling in spirit of investigation very useful here.

  6. BD, thank you! Have your read Rick Hanson's book, Buddha's Brain? Great read, particularly his take on negativity bias.

  7. I have heard of it but not read it yet, going to check it out.

  8. i still don't know! I try and give the thoughts space in my mind, not let it dominate my narratives. I guess I also say to myself "drop the storyline - what is the feeling"... but yes I am still learning.

  9. It's a good question and I think the answer is it depends on the specific circumstance for me. Some things are easier to put down than others! Sometimes I have to just let it keep coming up until it goes away on it's own time lines. Other times reminding myself that it's not that big a deal will work. Other times being present with the body will work.

    Seems I am a living breathing experiment in the Dharma. Thanks for making me consider this question!

  10. If it's hurt and resentment coming from an individual, consciously forgiving and cherishing the person seems to help. Other times, embracing the present helps. And a few tears aren't always a bad thing.

  11. Bookbird, yes, dropping the storyline . . . not a small thing isn't it? and of course, all this tied to some sort of rigid idea of 'I' :)

    Practicing mindfulness, patience, wisdom, loving kindness, . . .

  12. Carole (zendot), I agree with you that the load is easier to let go some times more than others. Small load, big load . . . In my case, right now, more on the heavy side, and quite sticky :) and an incredible opportunity to practice. The suffering makes it easier to stay mindful. No other way out really but through practice.

  13. David, yes, agree with you that loving kindness practice, as well as compassion for the other's own hurts and human-ness are very good medicines. Those two, along with awareness of self-inflicted pain from carrying on unwholesome, foolish thoughts.

    'I keep telling myself, [this person] is my teacher'. Great opportunity for growth lies in this difficult situation.