Inspirational Spiritual Stories – 2 Monks and a Woman
Their are many Inspirational Spiritual Stories that teach great lessons and this is a rendition of one of them. I was inspired to practice descriptive writing due to reading the Namesake again. I want you to see what I see without showing you and instead your eyes can become an extension of my words and you can paint this story in your head however you feel.
2 Monks and a Woman
It was a beautiful late spring day in the green picturesque country side. The plentiful cascading hills each seemingly tried to topple one another; the sun was slowly setting and the subtle hues of red, orange and yellow that her rays gave off immersed themselves with the sky, creating perplexing gradients that drove the blue jays mad in magnificent chaos. The slight breeze moved lentil sized pollen from the cherry blossom and jasmine trees in every which way and so began our walk, a beautiful and fragrant journey back to the monastery. I looked at Ai (pronounced iee) and marveled at his friendly disposition as he admired the scenery in front of us. His eyes were transfixed in the horizon. I glanced at his fists and still see the many prevalent scares that he took upon himself when we had scuffles with other boys growing up in the Monastery; even though all of us took a vow of celibacy and a life of peace, the emotion of anger can riddle the soul to immeasurable levels. Ai was my best friend, and growing up as an only child, he became the closest thing to a brother as I could ever imagine.
We both entered the Monastery in our tender adolescent years in the 1950’s. We had to be nine or ten at the time from what I can recall. Our Monastery was in the Henan Province of China. It was remotely located and far away from the city so the scribes of the time would never venture out to keep records. We lived in the desolate Pagoda Forrest surrounded by pine, oak, and cypress trees. Seeing this majestic interplay of trees every day brings back joyous memories. Ai was stern, philosophical, and well beyond his years in maturity. He would often marvel at the trees and tell me that the world would be naked without them. Now that I think of his sentiment, he was right, but at the time all my young mind could fathom was when he said the word naked.
As we continued our journey to the Monastery we glanced towards the horizon; at a distance we see before us a lush green and encapsulating green landscape. At times I would picture heaven to look like this even though my teachings had advised me of no such thing, so heaven is here for me for the time being and its breathtaking views leaves me in pure bliss. We walk down to the fast moving current of the river that divides two neighboring villages. The crisp and clear river water is teeming with dark green algae and seaweed, and the middle of the river runs wild with flying salmon. We see some of the villagers squatted near the river bed with their beige bamboo hats, smoking cigarettes, and fishing. They are enjoying the fruits of their labor after a long day in the rice fields. We ask for some donations and are given a few small bags of rice which will suffice for a few days’ worth of meals. We say a silent prayer to the villagers and go about our journey. Soon we came upon a beautiful woman standing helplessly. Her deep, penetrating eyes had me transfixed in an utter daze. Ai and I had just turned nineteen and we had very little contact with outsiders, let alone women. Her long black hair swayed harmoniously with the river current and the wind, and in her penetrating light brown almost translucent eyes we both saw desperation, frustration, and a need for help. As I walked over to her, Ai sternly said, “Bao, what are you doing.” At the monastery we were not permitted to have one on one interaction with women, and I understand Ai’s reasoning, but my minds reasoning gave way to my heart as I saw someone in distress. “Ai, come along, let’s see what the woman needs.” We walked over to her and my heart was overcome with compassion. The teachings of compassion have been taught since I was young and becoming a vessel to ease suffering never presented itself in this way, and so I went on.
“Are you okay,” I gently said?”
“No, I have to cross this river to get home, but the current is too strong.” All three of us nodded in agreement. “Can one of you gentlemen help me cross?” She had a bright smile that brought me a sense of reassurance even though there was nothing I needed to be reassured of.
I could see in Ai’s demeanor that he was conflicted. He wanted to help, but our many lessons, and respect for our teachers had him following our principles without fault. He looked down at the thinly bladed mossy green grass as if the answers to life’s question lay before his feet. As he looked up at me I knew he wanted us to leave the matter and go about our business, but it was too late, I was already carrying the beautiful woman on my shoulder and gently placed her on the other side. She looked at me with a smile that could light a thousand lanterns and a slight tilt in her head reminded me of my mother when she was alive. A look that made me feel as if I could do no wrong. My robe was wilted, and wet. I was completely soaked in the cold river water but felt a bright warming sensation; it seems the sunset was delayed today and her life giving rays was shed upon me; cloaking me like a warm wool blanket. She offered me a bag of rice, but I kindly refused. She insisted, and then I replied, “Giving is the best gift anyone can ever receive, so today, while I carried you, you have lifted my heart exponentially, so for that I thank you. If you want to be of service, take that bag of rice and give it to somebody that needs it.” We parted and I made way back to other side. Ai took my hand and hoisted me up back to the river bank and we started our trek back home.
Our whole way back Ai was upset. His subtle grunts and constant silent whispers to himself made it vividly apparent that something was wrong. I found humor is his dismay but paid little mind to it. At this point we were in town and I was admiring all the fresh produce at the market. The ruby red apples gave off the biggest crunches as the little youths munched on them with their bit sized teeth. The rich, intoxicating basil leaves, and the aroma of hot soups infiltrated my nostrils and made my stomach growl with enthusiasm for the meal that awaits when we get back. I saw food proprietors beaming with pride as customers enjoyed their food that they worked hard and labored many hours for.
While lost in my world, I couldn’t hear the plopping sounds of Ai’s sandals anymore and saw that he wasn’t next to me. I looked back and he was standing where the market started. He was looking at the ground again, a characteristic that he has shown me far too many times signaling his upsetting moods. I walked back to him.
“Ai, what’s wrong?”
“Bao, we were taught never to touch a woman, and you did just that!”
“Ai my brother, I dropped the woman on the other side of the river a while ago, but you still seem to be carrying her.”
Too many times we hold on to our past. When we do this we take our past baggage and bring it into other facets of our life. We take baggage that has no precedence in our lives anymore and we start to turn the world around us into a figment of our imaginary past. Everyone in our world is subject to the past that you choose to live in. When you stop carrying the past on your shoulder and experience this moment with full awareness, this moment “now,” in its totality, only then can you truly be free of the illusion that some call the past. There is no such thing. When you make peace with this important sentiment, then you can you experience pure bliss, serenity, and an all-encompassing love.
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Written by Anand Swamy