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The Story Of The Two Monks:

Once upon a time many moons ago, two monks were walking in silence through the forest; a younger monk, Anjan, and an older monk, Nanda.

Eventually their path led to a stream. There they saw a beautiful young lady, exquisitely clad, standing on the bank. She was in great distress because she wanted to cross the stream, but did not know how without getting her fine long robes wet.

Without hesitation Nanda scooped her up, crossed the stream, and set her down on dry ground. She thanked him and continued on her way, and the monks continued on theirs again in silence.

Anjan was a bit distressed and confused. He got more restless by the minute and then finally spoke up.

"Brother Nanda," he said, "I do not know what to make of it. You know our order is an austere order, and we cannot so much as speak to a woman. But... but... you saw that lady, you... uh... picked her up and... carried her across the stream! And yet..." he continued, almost choking, "You just keep on walking as if nothing happened!"

"It is quite simple," Nanda replied. "I set her down on the opposite bank, but you, Brother Anjan, are still carrying her!"

So... who, indeed, had the lighter burden, and the lighter step?

Note: This is a Zen story. Zen is a Buddhist school that developed in China and later in Japan as a result of the fusion between the Mahayana form of Buddhism originating in India and the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. A similar story can be found in, "Zen Flesh Zen Bones" by Paul Reps.


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