One day a Priest knocks upon a Great Master’s door. When the door opens, the Priest bows. “Master, I have heard from many that you are the greatest teacher of all. I come today to ask if you will please take me as your student. I promise to be very diligent.”
The Master sizes the priest up a bit before responding. “I am about to leave for the next village. Walk with me there and I will decide when we arrive.” And with that the Master walks out the door with the Priest scrambling after him.
They walk for several miles in total silence before coming upon a river with a washed-out bridge. A young girl with a basket full of mangoes is standing at the shore, worried. She sees the two men. “Hello! Can you help me? The bridge is washed out and the water is too deep for me to cross. My family will be worrying about me. Can you help me please?”
The Priest begins to explain that they are compassionate, but their Monastic Order cannot touch women, and so they are prevented from being able to help—and that’s about when the Master scoops the young woman and her basket up into his arms and he starts wading across the rushing water. The Priest is mortified. He gives chase.
On the other side of the river the Master simply sets the woman and her basket down, he bows to her, and continues on his way. The Priest is flabbergasted. He looks back and forth from the woman to the receding Master, and then back again and again before he finally gives chase.
Running up to the Master the Priest breathlessly asks, “Master! You touched that woman! I have been told you are a Great Master and yet you touched that woman when it is against the rules of our order! I need you to explain this to me Master.” But the Master just keeps on walking.
The Priest is really steaming on the subject. After about a mile or two he pipes back up. “Master. I must insist. Our order has a rule. I witnessed you break that rule. I saw you carry that woman. That was wrong. Please explain this to me or I will begin to wonder if I have found the right teacher.” The Master has no reaction whatsoever. He just keeps walking.
By five miles from the river the Priest is apoplectic. “Master! This is impossible! I refuse to take one more step behind you until you explain to me why it was okay for you to carry that woman across the river!?”
He slowly turns to face the Priest. “Indeed. I did carry her across the river. But tell me: in the end, which of us carried her further?”
Remember, there is only now. Everything else is you selectively replaying or speculatively imagining other times. You are where your thoughts are. So the next time you’re mad at someone, remember that it’s you that’s choosing to think about them. It’s not like they’re inside your head squeezing your brain. You decide what emotions you get by choosing your thoughts. Don’t live in the past. Don’t live in the future. Live now with all of your consciousness and you will be amazed at how beautiful the most ordinary-looking life can be.
Let things go. Be in peace. Big hugs. Love you.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.