Letting Go of the Past – Two Monks and a Maiden

One day, two monks set out on a journey to return to their monastery beyond the forest.  The previous day’s rain has caused many of the rivers to swell and overflow. When they arrive at one such river that needs crossing, they notice a beautifully dressed lady in a silk kimono standing by the bank.   Distressed that she is unable to get to the other side without getting muddy and wet, the older monk asks if he can assist her.  She agrees, and the older monk gently picks her up and wades across to the other side of the bank. The young monk, disturbed at what he is witnessing, follows behind.

With the young lady safely on the other side, the two monks continue on their way in silence.

After many hours have passed they reach home and the younger monk, noticeably upset and agitated turns and says to the older monk.  “Sir, you know that as monks we cannot touch a woman, how is it you lifted that woman across the river?”

The older monk replies “Yes, but I left her on the other side of the bank, you are still carrying her”

I always enjoy hearing this story; it’s a beautiful reminder of how holding on to past hurts, frustration, and anger only cloud our mind and prevent us from enjoying and living in the present moment.

There are times when others say things or act in ways that harm us, but when we continue to rehash over these events or situations, we are reliving the hurt and harming ourselves in the process. Holding on to anger or resentment keeps us weighed down and stuck in the past.

When we let go of past wrongs or hurts, it doesn’t mean that we are condoning the other person’s behaviour.   Instead, we are choosing to accept that it did happen, acknowledge our feelings and learn any lessons from the experience.  We understand that we cannot control or change what has happened to us, but we can exercise control over how we let the past affect our future.

Letting go might mean forgiving someone or even forgiving ourselves.

Is there something holding you back that you’re willing to let go of?

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