Two Buddhist Monks were on a journey, one was a senior monk, the other a junior monk. During their journey they approached a raging river and on the river bank stood a young lady. She was clearly concerned about how she would get to the other side of the river without drowning.
The junior monk walked straight past her without giving it a thought and he crossed the river. The senior monk picked up the woman and carried her across the river. He placed her down, they parted ways with woman and on they went with the journey.
As the journey went on, the senior monk could see some concern on the junior monk’s mind, he asked what was wrong. The junior monk replied, “how could you carry her like that? You know we can’t touch women, it’s against our way of life”. The senior monk answered, “I left the woman at the river’s edge a long way back, why are you still carrying her?”
The moral of that buddhist monk story: The senior monk had broken rules but for good reason. Once the purpose was fulfilled he put her down and continued on. He never gave it a further thought. The junior monk however did not touch the woman but he had brought up the actions of the senior monk when it was an action of the past. Therefore the junior monk was carrying the burden of what the senior monk had done as emotional baggage.
We have little use for the past except for the purpose of learning from our experiences, good and bad. Just like in the Buddhist monk story, we need to let go of any burden the past may place on us. It’s happened, it’s over, it cannot be changed, we can only move forward and create a compelling future.
September 11th is certainly a day that will never be forgotten, and a tragedy like no other in American history. But what thoughts and feeling arise when we remember this event?
Are we filled with loving kindness and compassion, or anger and hatred towards the attackers?
Is forgiveness and acceptance the path to a better future, or should we cling to our suffering and rage?
I know that some of you may be offended that I speak in this way about September 11th, but I cannot help but wonder why one day in our history would negate the truth of the dhamma.
There are so many people in this World who have suffered tremendous pain from experiences like rape, sudden infant death, suicide, murder and more. Is there any other way for any of us to be free of suffering than by letting go of the past and living presently with compassion and kindness?
A heart that is filled with love harbors no anger or resentment, only forgiveness and acceptance.
On this, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I pray that we may all forgive those that have harmed us, and remember those who were lost with love and joy. Let today be a day of healing and peace, and a new day to love one another with complete equanimity.
What better way to honor those who are gone, than with unconditional love and compassion.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.