(This blog was originally posted on January 11, 2016)
|Photo by Sara Fogan|
Many years ago, a yoga instructor read a story at the end of class that continues to resonate with me. The tale goes something like this:
Three monks set out on a walk to a monastery. Each monk is carrying a heavy load of clothing and other goods to donate to the poor. In addition, each one has taken a vow of silence, so they cannot pass the time talking during their journey. They come across a fast-moving river, where they see a young woman struggling to cross the water. She is losing her balance trying to keep her parcels dry, at risk of slipping into the water and drowning. One of the monks puts his belongings on the ground and goes into the river to help the stranger get across safely. He may have spoken to her at some point, just to reassure that he would help her get across the river to the other bank. Or, maybe he did not; but he was a gentle person with a kind heart, and the woman instinctively knew she had nothing to fear. Since he was very strong, it was easy to pick her up and carry the woman and her belongings the rest of the way across the river to the opposite shore. Once she was safely deposited there, the monk returned her bow to acknowledge her gratitude and crossed the river again to finish the journey to the monastery with his colleagues.
When they started walking, the first monk could immediately sense the other men’s great disgruntlement and frustration. Their strides and posture told him that they were very unhappy, maybe even angry, and he wondered what could be wrong. Finally, one of the other monks stopped and turned to glare at him. He said: “What did you think you were doing? We have taken a vow of silence! We have sworn to avoid the company and contact with women! And what do you do? You stop to help a maiden cross a river!”
“You touched her and you spoke to her,” the third monk exclaimed. “You broke your vow of silence and your promise not to have contact with the opposite sex! How dare you?”
The first monk sighed thoughtfully. Yes, he had done those things; but the woman was at risk of drowning in the fast-moving current. What else could he have done, except try to save her?
“Yes,” he said. “I did those things. But I put her down three miles ago. You are the ones who are still carrying her.”
This tale reminds me that it is usually a waste of time, energy and emotion to dwell on an event that has happened in the past. That action is over. There are rarely opportunities for a do-over. Often, we must make a split-second decision how to behave, think or even what to say in a conversation. Each of those decisions will be contingent upon the context in which they occur. As Hypnosis Motivation Institute founder John Kappas, Ph.D., liked to say, we all do everything exactly the right way at exactly the right time. That is because our existing subconscious knowns, which are created by previous experiences and beliefs, have programmed our subconscious mental script that dictates how we will behave in that situation. Perhaps if the river’s current had not been so fast or the woman had not been burdened with packages to carry, the first monk may not have stopped to help her. Whatever earlier-life experiences the first monk had or the beliefs he held about the value of a vow of silence or celibacy versus the importance of saving a woman’s life, dictated his decision to rescue her. And who knows? If that monk had not decided to rescue her, maybe one of his other companions would have done so instead.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.