`Visiting the Buddha Exhibition in Amsterdam inspired me to read up on some Zen stories and I stumbled upon this lesson:
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?”
A simple reminder to reset, let go of the baggage we carry around with us. This can be literal, as I discussed last night with a friend about his desire to downsize, let go of the unnecessary and focus on what’s important. It can be the baggage we carry with us and that slows us down: the preconceptions, the hardened emotions, the way we view things. It can be also the way we look at problems or challenges: Technology can liberate us, it doesn’t have to enslave us, make us less happy or less focused. This baggage we carry slows us down, makes us less agile to deal with the problems at hand.
It might be time to drop most of it and travel super light.