Two Monks Carry A Woman

Written by Steven Spear, Jr.

Edited by Cheyenne Cheng


My philosophy class discussed this story:

“Two monks, going to a neighbouring monastery, walked side by side in silence. They arrived at a river they had to cross. That season, waters were higher than usual. On the bank, a young woman was hesitating and asked the younger of the two monks for help. He exclaimed, ‘Don’t you see that I am a monk, that I took a vow of chastity?’

“‘I require nothing from you that could impede your vow, but simply to help me to cross the river,’ replied the young woman with a little smile.

“‘I…not…I can…do nothing for you,’ said the embarrassed young monk.

“‘It doesn’t matter,’ said the elderly monk. ‘Climb on my back and we will cross together.’

“Having reached the other bank, the old monk put down the young woman who, in return, thanked him with a broad smile. She left her side and both monks continued their route in silence. Close to the monastery, the young monk could not stand it anymore and said, ‘You shouldn’t have carried that person on your back. It’s against our rules.’

“‘This young woman needed help and I put her down on the other bank. You didn’t carry her at all, but she is still on your back,’ replied the older monk.”


The younger monk carried the woman (on his mind) for much longer than he should have. What started as a simple task became a journey-altering situation for the young monk. Who knows? If he had not been thinking about the woman, he could have gleaned profound wisdom through conversation with the older monk.

Don’t miss life’s blessings and opportunities because of something that happened in the past.


One comment

  1. Theresa Spear · ·

    This reminds me of the old saying “Do not be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.”

    Liked by 1 person

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