The two monks and the pretty young girl

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Or how to free oneself from any moralizing spirit.

In ancient Japan, two monks had set out and had left their monastery to undertake a long journey strewn with traps and difficulties, several days during which they would cross deep valleys populated by strange animals, bears terrifying vipers, snorting, huffing, squealing boars, venomous centipedes and ugly stubborn and deadly hornets. It was customary at the time for monks to make such journeys dressed in the simplest way possible and carrying around the few meager utilitarian objects that they were authorized to possess. They were called unsui, clouds and flowing water, because they traveled with the ease and freedom of water and clouds that glide over the roughness of the world. The passes were hostile and the paths poorly marked, huge stelae of cut stones and summarily calligraphy gave some indications of the place; the forests were dark and threatening, the hamlets sparse and unwelcoming. Few souls met in these improvised journeys, from time to time a hallucinated old man, a hurried palanquin, a merchant or beggars with sinister airs and not very courteous manners. We often had to sleep under the stars and find a way to escape the pouring rains and freezing winds. As for food, it was as frugal as it was precious.

“I only carried this young girl for a few moments, the time to cross the current, I had already forgotten her, but you, you have been carrying her in your mind for many hours! »

Now, behold, they arrived in front of a large impetuous torrent which rumbled with all its turbulent waters and in front of which stood a very frail and trembling young girl. The latter, light-bodied as a twig, unsteady and hesitant, seemed unwilling to ford the turbulent river. Her long black hair was tied in a thick bun and her yukata, a summer kimono, was cut from stiff linen printed with geometric patterns. Beautiful as the day in this surrounding greyness, it was like a ray of light, a peaceful glade in the ambient half-light. One of the monks, more talkative and curious than his comrade, interrogated her and asked her what she was doing there. She replied that she dared not set foot in this troubled water, fearing to lose balance and life there. The young girl was really bellotte, and the monk without asking for her rest and even less discussing it with his companion, decided, after asking his permission, to take her in his arms and make her cross the panicked and thundering current. Once on the other side, he put her down, gave her a frank and broad smile, before bowing with joined hands and resuming his journey with his traveling companion.

In the arms of… the brainless

They made their way painfully, for the heat weighed heavily and the slope was steep. After a long time, certainly unable to take it any longer, the second monk who had watched the scene without saying anything, but who could no longer manage to contain his indignation and dismay, finally opened his mouth to pour out bitter criticism. How dare he look up at this young woman, let alone speak to her? How could he touch her and take her in his arms? He had made himself guilty of so many faults and broken so many and so many holy precepts, and that in order to show off to a scatterbrain! For that, he would end up burning with just punishment in the underworld, teased by terrible demons! No one could so lightly mock monastic precepts and break the law of the Elders! The first monk had listened to him in silence and ended up turning around to answer him: “I didn't help a scatterbrain, but a poor girl who suffered from not being able to reach her village. And this young girl, I only carried her for a few moments, the time to cross the current, I had already forgotten her, but you, you have been carrying her in your mind for many hours! ". Through this simple story, everyone will easily understand that moralizing spirit and quarrelsome who sees and denounces evil with violence and preaches at all costs is indeed the one who conceives it. There is no sin and fault except in the eyes of those who judge, the innocent go in the carelessness of children and the freedom of clouds.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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