Indulgence, now, morality

An ancient story. Two student monks were walking in a town, ages ago, far away. They were both handsome young men, but they were serious about becoming absolutely aware of their inner spirits. The monastery in which they lived and took instruction had very strict rules of behavior for its students.

A hot rain had been falling all morning, but at last the sun had come out, and everything was glistening with a coating of pure water. The marketplace was filled with noise and bustle, and the streets were very muddy. Only under the woven thatched awnings of the storefronts of the streets were there any dry paths.

They came upon a lovely lady attired in expensive clothing, holding a delicate hand painted parasol. Everything about this woman was refined and spoke of wealth and knowledge of the world and its many ways.

It was obvious to the monks that she was trying to cross the road without getting her clothes dirty, but it was impossible. She stood there in a perfect moment as the sun echoed in thousands of small puddles from foot and hoof prints. Suddenly, the taller of the monks swept the woman and her beauty up in his arms and carried her safely across the road.

Afterwards, they went back to their monastery rooms to meditate before the evening’s rituals. As they sat down together, the shorter monk finally spoke his mind, saying, “I cannot understand your actions! We are monks! We do not go near females-especially beautiful women who are experienced with the ways of the life that we have put behind us. That was dangerous. Why did you do that?”

The taller monk settled into his meditative pose, and just before he closed his eyes, he looked at his friend, and said, “I left the girl there on the side of the street. Are you still carrying her?”

Ask yourself,What do I hold on to? What do I cling to that obsesses me?

What power does the past have on me? To what errors do I still give my precious attention? What thoughts do I run over and over again?

If I cling to and judge myself by my past, what am I telling others in subtle ways to also do to me? How can I expect them to judge me as I am today-now-if I continue to judge myself by my past? Why would they treat me any differently?

What is now?

If I have thoughts about some action I am doing, are these thoughts about now? Do I know that now I am paying attention to thoughts happening to me-not the actions with which the thoughts are concerned?

When I want to memorize something what do I do?

When I think of something I did years ago, am I doing it again? Am I “burning in” the experience so that my nervous system can more easily remember it?

When a memory happens to me, how much is that a voluntary action? What happens to memories in which I am not that much interested when they occur? Can I treat all memories equally? Must I have different rules for different types of memories? If my memories were individual people, would I be a racist?

If I cross a wide river, hopping from rock to rock and never falling in, what would I say to someone who complains that one of the rocks I used for the crossing was “especially ugly”?

If I had a sudden attack of amnesia, how much time would that save me each day?

What would I rather be: a good and wonderful religious leader whose very last year of life was unfortunately filled with sinning and complete loss of faith, or a wretched person who had spent an entire lifetime making huge mistakes in morality, but finally in the last year of life “got it” and lived a perfect life of harmony and love and finally died with those who knew him crying at their great loss? Or does it matter to me at all?

How much “work” is it for me to make the past real? What would happen if I “sort of got lazy?”

If I met a perfect person, on what would that person’s attention be placed when considering me, and what would I still be carrying in my arms?