A sage and his disciple were walking to a distant monastery. On the way, they had to cross a river. As it was summer, the water was just up to their knee.
When they ventured into the water, they saw a beautiful young lady standing perplexed on the bank. The guru realized that she was waiting for someone to help her cross the river. Without any hesitation, he picked her up and carried her on his shoulder, and let her down on the other bank. The lady thanked him and left.
The young monk was stunned by the act of the celibate sage but kept quiet. As they walked further forward, he couldn’t contain himself and asked.
“Guru, I have to ask: how can such a great celibate monk like you carry such a beautiful woman? Isn’t it against all our laws?
The sage looked at him serenely, smiled, and replied, “I left her on the river bank. You are the one still carrying her around.”
Humans are emotional beings. We tend to indulge in our mental world ceaselessly. Made up of thoughts that follow one after the other, our inner world can be quite messy.
Many of our thoughts and emotions hinder our progress. Sometimes they become a burden that we carry around, making life harder than it ought to be.
You don’t have to be a philosopher to know that life is a very long journey. From birth till death, many things happen around us. But we can’t afford to get stuck in any of them, be it good or bad.
We tend to stick to many things in life. Nostalgic memories, traumatic experiences, and the loss of a loved one are usually the things that make everlasting impressions. Some get stuck in time: like childhood, college, or some other phases of their life.
Many a time, an uncomfortable experience is all it takes to start the train of frustrated thoughts. Our unrealistic expectation is the culprit here. We hope everything and everyone around us will be pleasant.
What we fail to realize is that most of life is neither good nor bad. It presents us with neutral situations. The painful experiences, as the good ones, last only for a limited time; a few minutes to a few hours at most.
However, we tend to relive the situation again and again in our heads. Our thoughts revolve around the same things and cause more pain than necessary. Thus one singular traumatic experience is all it takes to ruin our composure for a long time.
Psychologists categorize the acute form of this reliving as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It takes a lot of time and effort to pull someone out of PTSD. Though usually we don’t go to such an extent, our thought processes are akin mostly to that of the psychological disorder.
This tendency makes us stuck, even cemented to specific incidents and hinders the flow forward.
One of the effective solutions to getting stuck is to see life as an experience. We mostly forget this fact and try to categorize everything into success and failure. We get overjoyed when we feel that we have succeeded and depressed when things don’t turn out the way we want it.
Yet, doesn’t life have more to it than the duality of success and failure? The truth is that the world is not black and white. When perceived likewise, we will be less emotionally invested in everything.
Life is a ceaseless flow. We have flow with it and move on from one day to the other without carrying over anything. Be it emotions or disputes or stressful incidents, nothing deserves so much attention.
We have to learn to take everything as it is; without complicating it with assumptions and prejudices. Mostly such problems are a product of our egocentrism. When we start to see ourselves just as an accessory to the situation at hand, we will be less emotionally charged about it.
Walking Off Without Burdens
“You must learn in life to take things more lightly, my dear. The world is always changing. Learn how to allow for it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, City of Girls
Like the monk in the story, we have the freedom to do the necessary and walk away detached. It is indeed a stoic philosophy. We can adhere to it and save ourselves from unnecessarily complicating things. Life will get much simpler if we can adapt the approach to everything.
Moreover, it gives us the dignity that we deserve. Even if life is harsh on us, we can walk off with our heads held high. Such a detachment will help us to pay more heed to the new experiences that come our way.
Moving on from dark corridors of life we will find open windows through which rays of hope make their way in. Let the fresh breeze of new experiences embrace you.
Thank you for reading. Please post your opinions in the comment box below.