Zen Story: Muddy Road
Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.
Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.
“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”
“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”
I am ready to start writing again after a bit of a hiatus. My intention is to write a collection of interweaving short stories about Antonio, the old man with piercing blue eyes, from “Inside the River.” There is a nagging thought that goes something like this–why write it, why not wait to see how “Inside the River” gets published?
And then I went to the stories I love that swirl around my head, stories that help me reset my brain, so as not to cling to negative thinking. The above Zen story is what I chose to think about.
What does it mean to me? There are rules all around us, and rules that Tanzan and Ekido follow. And then life happens and for them, life happened with a lovely girl who needed help. Tanzan helped her, and then let it go. Ekido did not help her, but chose to hold onto his discomfort that Tanzan broke a rule. Ekido, therefore, was still carrying her, making it dangerous for him as it clogged his thoughts with perhaps temptation or cravings or the disquiet of the mind.
What do we get attached to and how does that stop us from our pursuits, intentions, ease? If I am waiting for the end result of “Inside the River,” before continuing to write, an action that enlivens me and brings me joy, than aren’t I just like Ekido? And by clinging to negative thoughts, can I be of service to myself or anyone else?