The Monks & The River

Once two Tibetan monks traveling on pilgrimage came to a rushing river. There they saw an ugly old leper woman sitting on the bank, begging alms.

When the monks approached, she begged the priestly pair to assist her in crossing the river. One monk instinctively felt revulsion; disgusted, he gathered his long, flowing monastic robes about himself and waded into the river on his own, soon to reach the other side. There he wondered if he would even bother to wait for his tardy friend, being unsure as to whether or not the other monk would abandon the leper or wish to continue traveling on with her alongside.

But the second monk felt sorry for the decrepit old hag, and compassion naturally blossomed in his heart. He picked up the leprous creature, hoisted her onto his back, and struggled down the riverbank and into the swirling current.

Naturally enough, his brother monk had safely reached the far side long before the heavily laden lama, bearing his dirty bundle or rags and bones, even reached midstream.

Then an amazing thing happened. At midstream, just where the going seemed to be becoming most difficult, with the muddy water boiling about his thighs and his water-logged woolen robes billowing out like sails, the kindly monk suddenly-miraculously, it seemed-felt the burden lifted from his back. Looking up, he saw the female Buddha Vajra Yogini herself soaring gracefully overhead, reaching down to draw him up to Paradise with her.

The first monk, greatly chastened-having been so directly instructed in the nature of both compassion and illusory form-had to continue alone on his solidatry pedestrian pilgrimmage.

~Tibetan Buddhist

This excerpt is taken from the book, “Soul Food: Stories to Nourish the Spirit & The Heart

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