Put her down, Ekido

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One of the basic teachings of Zen Buddhism is letting go. Sometimes when I am having trouble letting go, I hold my fist in front of me. My thumb points away from me and my four fingernails are visible in a row parallel to the ground. I look at that closed hand, and then I fling open all five fingers, my palm to the sky.

Let go, let go.

Two monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were walking down a muddy street in the city. They came upon a lovely young girl dressed in fine silks, who was afraid to cross the street because of all the mud.

“Come on, girl,” Tanzan said. He picked her up in his arms and carried her across.

The two monks did not speak again till nightfall. Then, when they had returned to the monastery, Ekido couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“Monks shouldn’t go near girls,” he said, “and certainly not beautiful ones like that one! Why did you do it?”

“My dear fellow,” Tanzan said, “I put that girl down hours ago, back in the city. It’s you who are still carrying her!”

I first found this story here. It is also at Wikipedia in a slightly different form.

Breathe.

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