The Telling Place: A Lesson From ‘The Two Monks’.


There is a story told of:

Two holy men who were travelling together on a long, arduous journey, fraught with difficulty and deprivation. The two travellers were an older, mature monk, and a younger, novice monk, both of whom passed the time with endless discussion about life.

As they journey forward, they rounded a rocky edifice and saw in front of them a shallow (maybe, about thigh-deep), but fast-flowing river. They stopped to survey the scene, and noticed that several hundred metres away, a woman standing at the edge of the stream, looking rather forlorn and fearful about crossing the river.

The two monks approached the woman, the older monk got their first, and spoke with the woman; but the younger monk, a little way behind, didn’t hear what was said.

Without further thought, the older monk picked up the woman, put her on his back, and waded into the river, placing her safely on the other side of the river a minute or two later. Being dry and overcoming the river obstacle she thanked the older monk, and went on her way

The younger monk was astonished, but he didn’t say anything, and both monks carried on walking along the dusty road towards their destination, now in silence. They arrived several hours later at the village. It was evening when they entered the village, and it was only then that the hitherto talkative, younger monk spoke. He has been silent since the river encounter.

Somewhat angrily, he said, ‘Why did you carry that woman across the stream?  You know, as monks aren’t supposed to touch any member of the opposite sex.’

The older monk took his time, smiled, and gently replied, ‘My dear friend and novice monk, I helped that woman, and carried her across the river and her at the river’s edge. You, however, are you still carrying her!.

Perhaps, this story speaks to us all. For there are times when we carry things that are not good for us eg hate, envy, guilt, anger etc. It pays to offload upset, not to ‘beat ourselves up’, nor to harbour negativity, as we are the ones who suffer (and not the other party, if there is one).

Like the younger monk, we can still carry these things, and come of worst, and the encouragement from the older monk, to us (to America on 9 November as one patry wins and one loses, and do remember them all in your prayers for tomorrow), to us, and to others, is to release negativity, and ‘travel light’, and carry on living a full, and appreciative life.


3 thoughts on “The Telling Place: A Lesson From ‘The Two Monks’.

  1. Thank you for this Tadhg, It reminds me of the principle of self emptying, the letting go of all that would stand in the way of our being filled with the Divine.


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