Press Forward

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Two Buddhist monks, a senior and a junior were walking through the forest. They came across a river flowing through their path which they had to swim through to cross to the other side.

There was a woman who was sitting at the bank of the river. She did not know how to swim and requested the monks to carry her to the other side.

Buddhist monks take a vow of celibacy. They are not supposed to even look at women, let alone carry them. The junior monk politely refused. But the senior monk put the woman on his back, swam across the river, and dropped her safely to the other side – without saying a word.

The junior monk was aghast that the older monk had broken his vow but did not say anything. An hour passed as they traveled on. Then two hours. Then three. Finally, the agitated junior monk could stand it no longer, and asked, “Why did you carry that woman when we took a vow as monks not to touch women?”

The senior monk smiled, and said, “Brother, I dropped the woman on the bank of the river a long time ago. However, it seems that you are still carrying her around in your head.”

I had read this story a long time back but remembered it while recently dwelling on my past in a way that was starting to interfere with my present life.

But once I revisited this story – or the story revisited me – there was a change in my perspective.

The fog in my mind cleared, and I could see things in a better light.

We all go through times in life that lead us to hold onto things better left “on the other side of the river” and yet we continue to carry them in our minds and continue to hurt ourselves. We choose to ruminate over past actions or events, even when it ultimately weighs us down and saps our energy.

If you allow the past to consume you, you will never create the future you want and deserve.

Drop the baggage from the past – loss, guilt, sunk cost, regret, an expectation not met – and stop looking at the door that closed behind.

Instead, shrug yourself and step through the door in front.

Like the senior monk, let go of the past with its baggage. Leave what is not worth holding on to.

Press forward and stay blessed forever.