There are many Buddhist Stories that teach great lessons, and this is a rendition of one of them.
It was a beautiful late spring day in the countryside. The plentiful cascading hills created comfort for our eyes. The sun was slowly setting and the subtle hues of red and yellow met with the sky.
The slight breeze moved pollen from cherry blossom to cherry blossom and so began our walk, a beautiful and fragrant journey back to the monastery.
I looked at Ashi and glanced at his fists and still see the many scares from scuffles with other boys growing up during our younger years. Even though we took a vow of celibacy and a life of peace, the emotion of anger can riddle the soul.
Walking towards the river that divides two neighboring villages, we met with locals to beg for food and were given a few small bags of rice. In the near distance, we saw a helpless woman waving her hands at us.
Her long black hair danced harmoniously with the river current and in her translucent hazel-brown eyes we both saw desperation.
As I walked over to her, Ashi sternly said, “Bao, what are you doing? We are not permitted to approach, let alone talk to women.”
I looked at Ashi, and said, “come along, let’s see what the woman needs.”
We walked over to her and my heart was overcome with compassion.
“Are you okay,”
The woman said, “No, I have to cross the river to get home, but the current is too strong. Can one of you gentlemen help me cross?”
I could see in Ashi’s demeanor that he was conflicted. He wanted to help, but the at times rigid rules of our faith had him conflicted. He looked down at the mossy green grass as if the answers to life’s questions lay before his feet. When he looked up, I was already carrying the woman on my shoulder and gently placed her on the other side.
Ashi was upset. Whispers to himself made it vividly apparent that something was wrong. I found humor in his dismay but paid little mind to it.
“What’s wrong?”, I said with kind concern.
“We were taught never to touch a woman, and you did just that, Bao!”
“Ashi my brother, I dropped the woman on the other side of the river a while ago, but you still seem to be carrying her.”
We all have unsettling past events that creep into our present. Past baggage is nothing more than a story or memory from a time that is no more. You don’t have any responsibility to carry the baggage that no longer serves you. I hope you find the courage to let it go.