Two TRAVELING MONKS reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.
The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk, she just shoved him out of the way and departed.
As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then she didn’t even thank you!”
The older monk replies, “I set her down hours ago by the side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?” 1
The Moral of the Story:
In life, people are going to hurt you for no particular reason or fault of yours. Not taking the hurtful things people do or say personally and letting go of past hurt can be tough. As the above story illustrates, one needs to let go even though it can be tough not to react; we all have a choice to either get bitter or get better. Once you realize that most people are hurt and are looking for people to transfer their pain and frustration to, it is not about you most of the time; it takes someone who is hurt to hurt someone else. Letting go can be extremely tough, but holding on is even tougher. When people hurt us with their words and actions, the serenity prayer should come to mind: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.“
As the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher remind us in Meditations:
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.