Monday Zen: The Girl at the Crossroads

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he could no longer restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

There is a Buddhist quote that perfectly fits this story:

“Anger is a hot coal you’re holding, waiting to throw it at somebody.”

Where I come from, line-cutting is a prominent phenomenon. People just aren’t very good at waiting their turn. 

In the last three days alone, I was passed over at the restaurant, the hairdresser, and the bakery. That’s a good everyday reason to be angry - but it doesn’t do me any good.

Often, it doesn’t even matter. I can spare a few minutes. Maybe, these people can’t. I should be happy to let them go first.

But I’m human. So sometimes I find myself, still frustrated hours later. Still holding the coal. But all it does is burn my hand. So I should just let it go. That’s the part no one tells us. That we really can just let it go.

We’re not raised to be Zen. To accept. To surrender to the present moment. But we’re meant to. Drop the coal. Dissolve the anger. Choose calm.

The world is full of Ekido moments. So let’s live a Tanzan life.


About Monday Zen: Most people hate Monday. Why? In a good life, it’s a day like any other. At the very least, it shouldn’t be worse by default. That’s what Monday Zen is for: To make sure you start the week with calm, poise, and determination.

Let’s not derail our trains of thought before they leave the station. Let’s enjoy the journey.

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