What Are You Still Carrying?

What Are You Still Carrying?

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” – Katharine Hepburn

A senior monk, named Tanzan, and a junior monk, named Ekido, were traveling together through the countryside. They soon came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross, they saw a young woman also attempting to cross.

The woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side. The two monks glanced at one another. They had taken vows never to touch a woman. Then, without a word, Tanzan picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and continued on his journey.

Ekido couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them. Two more hours passed, then three. Finally, Ekido couldn’t contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted to touch a woman! How could you carry that woman on your shoulders?”

Tanzan looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river. Are you still carrying her?”

Ekido is attached to an idea or rule that makes him blind to the creative possibilities of the moment. He isn’t even the one breaking the rule yet he remains preoccupied with the event for the remainder of the day.

Tanzan, on the other hand, can “do the right thing” with decisiveness, speed and sensitivity. His mind is free and can intuitively flow with the present moment.

When we’re being dogmatic in our interpretation of an idea, despite being well-intended in doing so, we become rigid and lose creative power.

Concepts are static; reality is always in flux.

There are no musts in life; only choices and consequences. You don’t have to do anything. You are always free. This is what it means to be truly “response-able’”.

Tanzan maintained his “response-ability” by putting the woman down by the river.

What are you still carrying?

I learned to speak as I learned to skate or cycle: by doggedly making a fool out of myself until I got used to it.” – George Bernard Shaw


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