I’d started to compose a long response to someone else’s acerbic comment which was in turn a response to someone else’s acid journal entry. Which was a response to the first person’s own acid journal entry. Got that? Never mind—it doesn’t really matter. Instead, a parable that had floated through mind about both of these folks, specifically in dealing with one another, came back to me as advice I should follow more often myself.
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Two monks, younger and older, were walking by a stream back to their monastery. They belonged to a celibate ascetic order, and were prohibited from physical contact with the opposite sex.
They came to a beautiful young noblewoman standing on one side of the creek, fretting on how to cross it to get to a wedding without ruining the beautiful dress she wore. After listening to her story, the older monk picked the woman up in his arms and carried her across the stream, putting her down safely on the other side, and the two monks continued on.
The younger monk furrowed his brow at this, and turned the scene over and over in his mind, worrying about his mentor violating their order’s precepts. He burst out, “How could you do that? We should not even as much as touch a lady’s hand, and you picked that noblewoman up and carried her!” Thus began a lecture which continued all the way back to the monastery, which the older monk listened to in silence.
Finally, at the temple gates, after the lecture had ended and the younger man prompted his friend for some response, the older monk shook his head with a smile. “I set the noblewoman down on the other side of the stream,” he said. “Why are you still carrying her?”