A favorite Zen story of mine, that I like to share with my karate students is called “Muddy Road”. It goes something like this:
Two monks, Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road while walking on a 20 mile journey to their temple. The road was muddy due to an earlier heavy rain. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the road due to the water and mud.
“Come on, young lady” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud, and continued down the road with Ekido. Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached the lodging temple, and by that time he was very upset. When he could no longer restrain himself, he looked at Tanzan, and said, “We monks don’t go near females,” “especially, not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”
“I left the girl back there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?” Tanzan then immediately changed the subjext and asked Ekido what he thought of the very rare peacock that crossed their path during their journey. Ekido’s reply was “What peacock”?
Oftentimes, we may find ourselves holding on to things much longer than we need to. When we are unforgiving, hold grudges, and continue to hold on to anger, bitterness, and resentfulness, we may focus so much on these feelings that we begin to rob ourselves of joy, and begin to miss the beautiful world around us. Learn to let go, for your sake. It’s not worth it to hold on to things that serve you no purpose, and only do you harm. What are you holding on to?