Lessons from the Buddha

Two monks are walking through the forest. They come upon a beautiful, well dressed woman. “Would you carry me across the river?” she asks.

The monks’ vows prohibit them from touching a woman.

The older monk doesn’t hesitate. He lifts the woman, gently, and carries her across the river, where he puts her down, and they all continue their separate ways.

An hour later, the younger monk, stewing, finally can’t hold his silence: “How could you do that? How could you violate your vows by carrying that woman across that river?!?”

The older monk smiled.

“I put her down an hour ago,” he explains. “But you – you are still carrying her!”

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past will have been different. – Don Felt, Jack Kornfield, Oprah Winfrey, and many others

One’s enemy is the best teacher. – The Dalai Lama

I recently experienced a bitter disappointment: something toward which I had been looking (sex, with Shelby) was taken away from me, rudely, inconsiderately, at the last moment. I had no right to anything, other than good treatment, and/but I was deprived even of that. Shelby treated me shabbily from start to finish.

I briefly descended into a vortex of self-pity, recrimination, rage. But. I righted that boat. Looked around. And realized that most of what was upsetting me wasn’t that I wasn’t getting what I wanted today; it was that I didn’t get what I wanted long, long ago. And it wasn’t sex that I wanted; it was a primal, primitive touch; an attention; a confidence, a certainty, that I was the most important person in the world, at least to one person, for at least a crucial time. And surely, it’s not actually Shelby to whom I wanted to be the most important person. She was just serving as a stand-in.

I don’t mean to excuse the bad behavior to which I was subject: it was bad. Rude. Thoughtless. Cowardly. Inconsiderate.


It had little to do with me. And, the feelings I felt had little to do with the person reminding me of those feelings.

When I put down the woman on the side of the river and walked on, when I gave up the hope that the past might have been different, when I treated the painful situation as my teacher, rather than as my oppressor?


That’s when things got good for me and, as I said to Charlotte, I ended up having a better stretch of time than I might have had I not been disappointed in the way I was.


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