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Two Monks

Two Monks
Two Monks

A Zen Buddhist tale, retold by Jessica York.

Two monks set out on a journey, one young, the other older and wiser. It was after the rains and the road was very muddy. At one point in their journey, they encountered a young woman standing before a large mud puddle. The younger monk passed her by, but the older monk offered to lift the young lady and carry her over the puddle. She thankfully accepted his offer and he carried her easily to the other side and put her down. Then the two monks continued on their way.

The farther they walked, the more the older monk noticed a change in the younger monk's behavior. He did not speak and he seemed angry. Finally, the young monk stopped in the middle of the road and confronted the older monk.

"Why did you carry that woman across the road? You know, as holy men, we are forbidden to touch any women, much less one so young and pretty!"

The older monk replied, "It is true that I broke a vow in touching the young woman. However, I put her down back on the road. Why are you still carrying her?"

About the Author

  • Jessica York is Co-director of Ministries and Faith Development and the Director of the Faith Development office of the Unitarian Universalist Association. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, she previously served the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham as director of...

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