2 monks are walking in the nature

ZEN STORY: THE ART OF LETTING GO

In my previous article, I stressed how important letting go of what doesn’t serve us anymore is in order to live up to our full potential.

I also mentioned that the disempowering thoughts we carry on day in and day out represent our biggest burden.

They result in unpleasant emotions and make us feel stuck with no solutions, but only problems.

Let’s examine an ancient popular Zen story that shows how brooding over past experiences limits our personal growth and well-being.

TWO MONKS AND THE BEAUTIFUL LADY

Once upon a time two Zen monks, a senior one, called Tanzan, and a junior one, called Ekido, were heading for a monastery when they were suddenly caught in a storm.

They found a shelter where to wait till the end of the tempest.

Once the storm was over, they resumed their journey.

Soon they approached a fast-flowing river; on the river-bank, there stood a beautiful lady.

She was afraid of drowning while attempting to cross the raging river and so, she asked the 2 monks for help.

Ekido, shook his head in disapproval and crossed the river.

The senior monk, instead, carried the woman on his back to the other side.

Once they were across, they parted ways and the 2 monks resumed their journey towards their monastery.

The two friends walked all day long without exchanging a word.

Tanzan was engrossed in meditation and contemplation of the surrounding nature, while Ekido looked restless and thoughtful.

Only when they were almost at their destination did the junior monk break the silence:

“How could you carry the young woman like that? You broke your vows to Buddhism when you touched her. You know we are forbidden to touch women, it is against our rules.”

The senior monk pondered for a while and then replied:

“I carried the young woman only to help her to cross the river, and then I left her.

 It happened long ago now.

Tell me Ekido: Why are you still carrying her?”

WHAT DOES THIS STORY TELL US?

The message is straightforward and enlightening at the same time: our thoughts and brooding are our heaviest burden!

We tend to cling onto things that have hurt us, disappointed us, made us angry, etc, but this comes at a price.

Hanging onto what hurt us in the past causes further suffering since we re-live the same unpleasant emotions.

And the more we cling onto it, the more we fall into a painful vicious circle.

We don’t have power over the past, we cannot change it, the only thing we can do is to learn from it, let it go, and keep moving forward.

We can choose to behave either like Ekido, ruminating over our past, in so doing hurting ourselves, or like Tanzan, leaving the burdens of the past behind and embracing the present moment.

Only by living in the present moment can we find peace and happiness, because the present is all we have.

“Focus on opportunities, not setbacks. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Focus on the present moment, not the past or the future. Empower yourself”. - Akiroq Brost

WHAT CAN YOU ACTUALLY DO TO LEAVE BEHIND THE BURDEN OF THOUGHTS?

Ask yourself:

What kind of emotions and feelings do I experience because of my thoughts?

Where are they leading me? Towards happiness and well-being or towards sadness and frustration?

By becoming aware that you are clinging onto disempowering thoughts, you can choose to change, you can give different instructions to your mind, which will trigger completely different emotions.

By sending different messages to your subconscious, you are training your mind to look at things in a different way and you are ready to spot new possibilities.

You are ready to let the past go and focus on here and now to make the most out of it and to become a better version of yourself.

Christian Caliendo
Christian Caliendo

6 thoughts on “ZEN STORY: THE ART OF LETTING GO”

  1. Thank you Chris!
    I really enjoyed reading the story and your comment!
    I will try to remember this precious teaching in my daily life and I will read your post now and again as a reminder!
    Silvia

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