The parable of the two monks and the woman is one that I think of often, and whenever I tell this story in yoga classes, I get multiple people telling me they really needed the lesson in the story. It was on my brain again today, so I thought I would share it with you all.
The parable of the two monks and the woman
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.
The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.
Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.
Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
It’s a good one, right??
From this parable, the mantra I say to myself is “put the woman down.” I use it whenever I am feeling anger or sadness, but can’t really pinpoint why I’m not feeling great.
How often do we carry disagreements, anger, disappointments and frustration from our past into our current state? Most stressors actually only have a chemical affect in our body for about 90 seconds. After that, the holding on is *our* decision.
Sometimes we’re holding onto the woman even though the river was miles ago. I particularly use this mantra when I’ve made a mistake. It’s so easy to get frustrated with myself about what I could have done better or differently. But in truth, the earlier we put the woman down, the faster we can recover.
So…what are you holding on to? Are you ready to put her down?
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,
Samantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.