Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Letting Go

An old Buddhist monk accompanied by a young monk, traveled along the bank of a river. The river was swollen from the waters that came down the mountains after the winter snows. They met an old woman sitting on the bank weeping uncontrollably. The monks stopped. She told them that she had received word that her only daughter who lived on the other side of the river was dying. She was afraid her daughter would die before she could cross the river. The older monk consoled her as best he could, but it was forbidden for a Buddhist monk to touch a woman so he decided they must resume the journey. The younger monk filled with compassion, looked at the raging waters and thought to himself, “I’m strong, I can probably carry her across the river.” He picked her up and carried her safely to the other side. When he returned the old monk was apoplectic with anger. He screamed, “have you no appreciation for your religious vows- not only did you touch the woman, you actually carried he. That is a sacrilege.”

He continued his lecture on the evils of touching women for the rest of the day. When they arrived at the campsite, the young monk went into the forest to collect firewood but as he returned the lecture began again. This time he could take no more. He put his hand up and said, “Stop! There is one thing I do not understand. I put the woman down on the riverbank that morning. Why are you still carrying her?”

How many of us ruin our chances of happiness today because we refuse to put the woman down. We refuse to let go of our sins, our hang-ups, our desires for revenge and the memories of what others have done to us. We refuse to let go of our regrets, our dreams, our waistlines, our youth, vigour and our if only- if only I hadn’t said that….. if only he had done……if only I had done…… if only I had thought about it…… if only, if only, if only. We waste all that energy wanting to change a past that cannot be changed instead of letting go of whatever it is that is dragging us down and getting on with our lives and letting God be God.