Why are You Still Carrying Her?

Once upon a time, two Buddhist monks were walking along after a horrendous thunderstorm, marveling at how nature could be, in one instance, so tranquil and beautiful, yet in another, so violent and devastating. As they were walking along the path, they soon saw the wood bridge spanning a fjord had been washed away, leaving little way to cross the stream except to wade in the swiftly-moving water. As they were removing their sandals to do so, they noticed a young woman, heavy with child, struggling to ford the raging current.

Now, being devout monks, they knew that touching a pregnant woman was taboo, and would amount, essentially, to breaking their sacred vows, requiring intense cleansing to rectify. The elder monk just shook his head sadly and waded on, knowing there was little he could do and still remain chaste.

The younger one, however, took pity on the woman. Being full of compassion, he bent down, and gently put the woman firmly on his shoulders and helped her across, setting her down on a grassy knoll on the other side. He then went back and got her things as well. He then went about his way, quickly catching up with his fellow monk.

They walked along in silence until dusk, when they finally reached their monastery. Upon entering, the elder monk could remain silent no longer, and chided his brother monk.

"Why did you help that woman, knowing it was taboo?"

The younger monk contemplated for a few minutes in silence before giving his answer.

"Dear brother," he replied, "I left that woman on the grassy knoll on the other side of the stream. Why are YOU still carrying her?"

This was originally told to me in a Religion 102 - Eastern Religions class in college, and it's originator is listed online as Anonymous. If any reader knows the author, please PM me. -- Haylee V

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