The art of letting go

If there is one thing that I do not understand about certain people, it is their inability to let go of things. It is so taxing to carry the burden of an unwanted thought or incident forever. Accumulating such incidents regularly does us no good really. Think of the baggage you carry and bring to all your inter personal interactions. I heard a very good story in a session recently. It went like this:

There was a monastery in the north eastern region of India. It was situated in the wilderness, away from civilization and they had very strict rules about the monks not interacting with women in manner whatsoever. Once the region faced a terrible storm and floods. The river next to the monastery was swollen and they wold soon be cut off from the outside world completely. To stock essential supplies, a senior monk and his apprentice were chosen to cross the river and go to the nearest village. 
When they reached the river, they found a young tribal woman wanting room across as well. The river was twice its normal size and flowing very fast. The smattering of boulders that served as a natural bridge across the river barely visible. The younger monk saw the girl and looked away, As was proper. The senior monk however approached the girl and asked if she needed help. She said that she had been stuck in the forest for two days due to the rain and now wanted to get to her tribe on the other side of the river. But the water terrified her. Hearing her story, the older monk offered to hold her hand and guide her across. The apprentice was aghast. He didn’t say anything to his guru though and the trio began to cross. Halfway across the girl almost lost her footing. She began to tremble and cry. The young monk wished she didn’t slow them down, the older tried to placate her. When the girl calmed down a bit, the older monk asked her to ride his shoulders for the rest of the way. He picked her up and perched her atop them. His disciple was beyond shock for all the rules that had been broken. He was quite out of deference to the monastery. They crossed the river in silence. Once back on firm ground, he set her down. She thanked the monk and skipped off in the direction of her home.
The young monk was in turmoil. He wanted to ask his teacher a lot of questions but did not have the right words and courage for it. After a while, the teacher himself asked what the matter was. He said, the monastery rules prevent even looking at a woman. Why then did you hold her hand? Even carried her on your back? To this, the wiser one replied, “My friend, I have left that woman a long time back. Why are you still carrying her?”


There is so much this story teaches us:

  1. You do not know the reasons behind someone else’s actions. Don’t judge them
  2. Some rules can be broken if you are helping someone in dire need
  3. And finally, do not over think. Do not over analyse. Keep the good things and lessons from life in your head. Let all the unpleasant and unhappy memories go. It is not worth hanging on to them. Just let go!

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