Two monks, Tanzan and Ekido were walking along a path early one day on their way to a faraway temple for a weekend retreat. A heavy rain had been falling, making the going slow and treacherous. As they rounded a bend which would then take them to a small bridge spanning a stream, they met a lovely young woman in a silk kimono. The hapless young woman was unable to cross the now raging stream because the small bridge had been washed out by the heavy rain. She was at a loss as to what to do and seeing the two monks, begged them to help her safely cross. She explained that she was on a mission of mercy to visit an ailing uncle.
The monks found themselves in a bit of a bind. Not only had they taken vows of silence with members of the outside world, but they had also taken vows which prevented any kind of physical contact with the opposite sex.
However, vows or not, Tanzan quickly approached the young woman in need and said, “Please, let me be of assistance.” He then bent down, picked her up, put her over his shoulders and proceeded to wade across the raging stream to the other side. Ekido followed, shell-shocked, disbelieving that his friend could have so quickly and thoughtlessly broken his vows. When they reached the other side, the young woman profusely thanked Tanzan, who bowed and said, “Safe travels my lady.”
For the rest of their journey, a good 10 hours, Ekido was silent and fumed, refusing to acknowledge his friend. It wasn’t until night set in and they had reached their destination for the weekend that Ekido angrily broke his silence, being unable to contain himself any longer.
“We monks do not talk to outsiders and we never, ever have physical contact with the opposite sex. I can not believe that you have broken your vows. Why did you do that?”
Tanzan replied, “My good man, I simply carried the young woman for no more than a minute across that stream. When I got to the other side I put her down and left her there. However, it seems to me that you are still carrying her some ten hours later!”
Lesson: Learn from the past, deal with it and then leave it behind you. Mistakes, failures, setbacks and losses do you absolutely no good when you carry them around with you into the present. Instead they will burden you and interfere with your performance in the NOW.