A senior monk and a young monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As they prepared to cross the river, they saw a beautiful, young woman in a formal gown staring sadly at the stream. The young woman asked the men if they could help her cross to the other side.
Both monks 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 continued on his journey.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what had happened. For several hours they traveled in silence. But the young monk couldn’t stop ruminating about the behavior of the elder monk. How could he have broken his vows by carrying the young woman? What kind of example was he setting for young monks like himself?
Finally the younger monk blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted to touch a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at him and replied, “I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
It takes great wisdom to let what’s over be over.
What’s done is done.
How much energy have you spent ruminating and talking about something that can’t be changed (the past)? The chapter of your life labeled as “yesterday” must be archived. Your job today is to write a new chapter.
Maybe yesterday you made a stupid mistake. More than one. You messed up. Maybe you were hurt by someone elses actions or words. Maybe it was a bad day for the stock market. Or someone backed into your car in the parking lot. Whatever yesterday’s story was, it is already written. It’s been published. Today, like every day, offers you an opportunity for a fresh start.
Getting a fresh start isn’t always easy. You carry a residue of feelings from the events of the day before. Your bad mood from yesterday spills into today. You ruminate about what you could have done differently.
How can you set down what you carried, now that you are on the other side of the river?
How do you move forward?
How do you devote yourself to the work you need to do this day?
This is the challenge we all face – spiritually and emotionally. Don’t be tricked into wasting your energy. Don’t carry life’s burdens farther than you need to.
Aspire to a fresh start. Every morning. Begin again.
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......