One day, a Buddhist monk and his apprentice came to a big river and saw a beautiful woman standing by it. Because she couldn’t cross it, she was looking worriedly at it.

The monk walked over and asked the woman: “Do you have an urgent need to cross the river?”

The woman replied: “Yes, Master, my mother is seriously ill. I am hurrying to go back and see her. No one knows that I am at the river, and I am worried I will not get there in time.”

The Buddhist monk said lightly: “This is indeed urgent, let me carry you across the river.”

The woman looked at the two monks in front of her and was hesitant, but when she thought of her mother who was lying in bed, she had no choice but to agree.

The Buddhist monk stepped forward and held the beautiful woman firmly in his arms, rushing past the turbulent river and bringing her to the other side of the river.

Afterward, the monk and apprentice continued on their journey.

Image result for image of 2 monks
The image is from Scott Stulberg Photography.

After a half-day journey, the young apprentice couldn’t help but ask him: “Doesn’t the master say that monks should not be close to a woman? Why did you carry the beautiful young woman across the river?”

“Oh, do you mean that woman who couldn’t cross the river and needed help?” said the monk casually. “I already put her down when we passed the river and crossed to the other side. Why have you held onto her?”

The monk then said to his apprentice, “if you want pure land, you need to purify your heart. That is to say, to establish a pure land, first of all, purify your heart. Buddhist practice cultivates the mind. The heart is clean so that all beings are clean.”

The woman who was waiting for crossing the river, in the mind of the older monk, was just a human being and someone who needed help. When the monk put her down on the riverbank, he put her down completely. But the young apprentice, though not directly carrying the woman across the river, “carried” her in his heart and was unwilling to put her down. He, as we call it, “could not put his heart down.”

 

Note:

The original Chinese text is from https://www.jianshu.com/p/16b01fbd54a4.