Leaving the past in the past

I might be repeating myself here. Some of you might have heard this before. In fact, if you have been in class lately, for sure you will have heard it! Yet, what I am going to say is worth repeating.

Importantly, repetition in the tradition of Yoga is called JAPA JAPA and is said to be immensely helpful especially when cementing new ways of being. The more often we repeat a thing, the more deeply imbedded it becomes – and this is true both of new and exciting ways of being – and those ways of being that we would rather be without.

At any rate, I digress. As you likely have heard, Yoga is rooted in the traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhists, especially, have developed succinct ways of summing up – in 4 words or less – life lessons that will help us to evolve spiritually. They can say in few words what it would take me 1,000 words to write.

And, if you love stories, and who doesn’t?......Buddhism is brimming with anecdotes and parables to tickle even the most bored student!

Here’s a story that I love. The title – “Carrying Woman”

Two monks were making a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of a great Saint. During the course of their journey, they came to a river where they met a beautiful young woman -­--­- an apparently worldly creature, dressed in expensive finery and with her hair done up in the latest fashion. She was afraid of the current and afraid of ruining her lovely clothing, so asked the brothers if they might carry her across the river.

The younger and more exacting of the brothers was offended at the very idea and turned away with an attitude of disgust. The older brother didn't hesitate, and quickly picked the woman up on his shoulders, carried her across the river, and set her down on the other side. She thanked him and went on her way, and the brother waded back through the waters.

The monks resumed their walk, the older one in perfect equanimity and enjoying the beautiful countryside, while the younger one grew more and more brooding and distracted, so much so that he could keep his silence no longer and suddenly burst out, "Brother, we are taught to avoid contact with women, and there you were, not just touching a woman, but carrying her on your shoulders!"

The older monk looked at the younger with a loving, pitiful smile and said, "Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river; you are still carrying her.”

And perhaps the best known fable: The Problem of the Raft The basic story is this: A man traveling along a path came to a great expanse of water. As he stood on the shore, he had heard there were dangers and discomforts on the opposite shore, but still it appeared safe and inviting. The man looked for a boat or a bridge and found neither. But with great effort he gathered grass, twigs and branches and tied them all together to make a simple raft. Relying on the raft to keep himself afloat, the man paddled with his hands and feet and reached the safety of the other shore. He could continue his journey on foot.

But..what to do with the raft? He was proud of his craftsmanship, and after all, the raft had enabled him to cross the waters. Could he leave it, or could he drag it along behind him? How many of us have been (are) reluctant – or worse still – paralyzed by even the thought of leaving the ‘raft’ behind in order to evolve spiritually? Or, are we ‘carrying woman’ with us so that our present moment is tormented by the past?

Some things to ponder. Ommmm.