Posted by Trevor on 18 April 2013 | 6 Comments


Sid & Stan enjoying some spring grass.

Sid & Stan enjoying some spring grass.

Think of one person – just one – who frustrates you in the office or the home. Think of how many hours you spend replaying their attitude and behavior in your imagination, and how many hours of restless sleep you allowed that to cause. Then contemplate this story.

One day two monks were returning to their monastery silently, while all the time watching their thoughts, contemplating each step and witnessing everything in the moment. A great peace enveloped them.

A small river flowed close to their monastery. Coming to the river they saw a beautiful young lady crying because it was her wedding day, and she could not cross the river without ruining her bridal gown.

The first monk said to her that he was sorry, but as a member of a strict teaching he could not touch a woman and therefore could not help. The other monk took pity on the young woman and without thinking carried her across the river.

Walking back to the monastery the first monk chastised the second, telling him he had broken his religious vows. He continued to berate the second monk all evening.

That night, the first monk was so angry for the second monk’s transgression that he could not sleep. Eventually, he woke the first monk saying “you are now spoiled for you have carried the woman on your shoulders, and it is sin for a monk to touch a woman.”

The second monk replied ‘The sin is yours, for I rescued the woman and then dropped her on the other side of the river. There I left her, but you are still carrying her in your head’.”

That is how it is with that one infuriating individual. Sometimes we perceive hurt or fault whether it was intended or accidental. Because, however, we carry that in our imaginations for so long we become like the first monk. We only have ourselves to blame for our negative feelings, and the person we think caused our feelings loses no sleep over it at all.

It is important to let go, and sometimes the most freeing feeling comes from apologizing to someone you know for a fact is the one in the wrong.




  1. Penelope says:

    Beautiful! My granddaughter posted something similar on Facebook which said.” Hating someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die!” I absolutely agree and it does takes practice to let go. Thank you again for these updates… they keep me smiling, thinking, and above all grateful.

  2. Andrea says:

    Thanks, Trev! This is just what I needed today. I guess all my quiet time in the morning is bringing me what I need after all. 🙂

  3. Anthony says:

    You are so on point Trevor. I have often found myself creating a monument to the failure of those disagree. Often we find ourselves carrying those we would otherwise leave… but then unknowingly, I continue to carry them in my heart. Great points we should revisit regularly.

  4. Mick says:

    Great — I’ve seen an elided version of that fable a lot, interesting to get the whole thing (I assume), it’s more compelling. Thanks Trevor, Mick

    • Trevor says:

      This is an aspect of Three Simple Steps that many people struggle with. When we step out of the quicksand we not only step outside our comfort zones but the comfort zones of all those in our environment. If we are lucky then some people choose to journey with us, but typically they do not. Our desire to become something causes them to reflect on their living within their potential and that can lead to resentment. The transition from quicksand to adventure can be a lonely one. It is important to let people go and to move on. I have often faced the dilemma of having to fire someone from their work. It has never been an issue for me because I felt they were clearly misplaced where they were. I have never met anyone who wanted to be thought of as a poor worker, but sometimes people are in the wrong job at the wrong time. Sometimes we are with the wrong people at the wrong time. I have viewed firing people as letting a captive bird free. I have viewed the Three Simple Steps as the mechanism by which I have been set free. When you let go of people you do a noble thing like throwing a bird into the air. Every time you free a bird you create a little more freedom for yourself.

  5. Kristann says:

    Trevor – one of my favorite children’s stories, “Zen Shorts”, has this story, except that the woman was surly and unappreciative, and the focus on not whether the monk could touch her but the woman as a selfish person, therefore undeserving of his help. At the end of the story, the [older, wiser] monk says to the other monk (after the latter has brooded about it), “I put her down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?” Anyways, I always loved the message the story brought to my children. Also, I am taking a class on emotional intelligence and they had a great story about a media company needing to let go a group of journalists. One manager said to the group, “I hope you have your savings in place – I sure have!” and the second said, “We are journalists not because of job security but because we have a story to tell the world. We are setting you free to expand your story.” You can imagine which was greeting with a better response!

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