Aug 09

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Two monks

Tonight I feel cranky and unsettled.  Nothing bad happened today, but it was a difficult day nonetheless.  A day when I felt like the air around me was crackling with static and my own discomfort.

Tonight I don’t really feel like writing any of my own stuff.  Instead a story comes to mind that I want to tell, even though I’m not sure exactly what it relates to right now.

Two monks were on a long trek between one monastery and another. One monk was a novice, just learning the ways of the order, and the other was his mentor. The novice had taken a vow of silence for as long as they were in the outside world.

Several days into their trek, they came upon a rushing river that they would have to cross without the aid of a bridge. Standing beside the river was a prostitute. She asked the monks if they would help her across. Without hesitating or speaking to her, the elder monk picked her up and carried her to the other side of the river.  The novice followed across the river, where the mentor had laid down the prostitute and was preparing to start again on their journey.

They trekked for another three days and during that time the novice stewed. During those three days he went from discomfort to anger to rage, but he maintained his vow of silence.

When the two monks arrived at their new home, the novice finally exploded in all of his rage and jealousy and fear. He yelled at his mentor, “You have taken holy vows!!  How could you touch a prostitute?!  How could you hold her in your arms?!”

The master turned to his student and said, “My child, I carried that woman in my arms for three minutes.  You have carried her in  your heart for three days.”

I’m not sure where I first heard this story, but I know that it really rattled me and got under my skin at first.  Once I’d sat with it for a while, I began to see the beauty and simplicity in it.

I get to choose what I carry.  And when I don’t like what I’m carrying – when it brings me discomfort or anger or fear – I’m the one that gets to choose to put it down.

Like this day.  I get to put this day down and let it go.  With all of its insanity and chaos, with all of its lunacy – I get to choose whether to carry it for three minutes or three days.

Well, there you go – I just talked myself into the lesson.  Funny how that works.  I guess you could even say…it’s a miracle.  🙂

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.leahcarey.com/themiraclejournal/2011/08/09/two-monks/


  1. a seeker

    yeah,, i didn’t remember where i came across this story last tym,, n this is the second time,,,…n i really liked it…thnx for sharing…
    i have read somewhere “the best meditation is to “Let GO”…
    other thing that strikes to me from this story is..,,
    by analyzing the degree of letting Go in a person,, we can estimate the level of positive advancement to his true nature””

    see here b/w both mentor (3mins.) n novice (3days)….
    well shown why he is a mentor n other 1 is still a novice…

  2. Leah Carey

    Welcome, seeker!

    I’m intrigued by what you said – that the degree of letting go a person demonstrates is a clue to their level of “awake”ness (my words, obviously). It seems like an interesting and potentially accurate measure that I want to spend some more time thinking about.

    I’m glad you’re here! 🙂

  3. Lisa LaPlante

    I have been letting this miracle “simmer” for a few days. I have left it in my inbox intentionally because I am keenly aware of how much I struggle with allowing myself to let it go and put it down. What an important lesson and now a parable I get to use to help remind me it’s my choice what I carry. Thank you so much for the beautiful reminder… I’m grateful for the permission to travel a little lighter.


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