Put It Down

This is an old Buddhist parable. I’m probably not going to do it justice, but here goes…

Two monks were walking in the woods when they encountered an old woman standing by a wide stream. As they approached her, she pointed with her cane and demanded they carry her across.

The younger monk picked her up on his back and began to cross the stream. As he traversed slippery rocks, she continually hit him with her cane and berated him for being a clumsy idiot. In the middle of the stream, he could no longer continue safely amid the beating and verbal abuse. He transferred her to the older monk’s back, who carried her the rest of way, enduring the same treatment as they crossed.

They finally put her down on the other side safe and dry. Their robes were wet and muddy and their shoulders were full of bruises. Still, she yelled at them for being too slow and not careful enough and told them to get out of her sight.

As they continued on their walk, the younger monk complained bitterly about the experience, exclaiming, “She didn’t even thank us!” The older monk was quiet and did not engage in the complaints. After a long time, the younger monk became frustrated at the older monk’s silence and shouted, “How is it possible that the old woman didn’t bother you? She beat us and called us filthy names, and we were only trying to help!”

The older monk stopped walking, turned to the younger monk and said, “I put her down an hour ago. Why are you still carrying her around?”


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