Monday, July 1, 2013

Letting Go: Day 11 - 30 Day Challenge

Several years ago, on a retreat with Don Miguel Ruiz in the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, Don Miguel spoke about how challenging it is for us to be fully present in our lives; our human tendency is to bring our past into the present and this profoundly impacts our future. The metaphor Don Miguel provided was "to bring our past into our present is the equivalent of dragging around a stinking rotting corpse with us wherever we go." Over time, we aren’t aware that we are dragging this corpse behind us and don’t even notice how this impacts our life – the weight, smell, sabotaging of work and relationships, as well as the effort required for our burden.

The Zen story, “The Burden,” provides a similar example of our tendency to hold on to the past. Although it may not evoke the image and smell of the graphic Don Miguel Ruiz metaphor, it always sends me on an inner journey. Its simple message is powerful – one that evokes questions regarding awareness, intention and behavior. What burdens from the past are you still dragging around today?

 The Burden

Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing, unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to her, lifted her, left her on the other side of the road and continued on his way to the monastery.

In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said: “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman?” The elder monk answered: “yes, brother.” Then the younger monk asks again: “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside?”

The elder monk smiled at him and told him: ”I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”


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