Khader Syed

You're still carrying her?

Mon May 12 2014


I’m not a Buddhist or a Muslim. Or even a Hindu. Definitely not a Christian, a Jew or an Atheist.

If anything, I am a combination of all of these, a reflection of everything I’ve learnt over the years, since the time I’ve gained consciousness. Many moons ago, I came across the following story in the context of Buddhism and since then, it has remained a favourite of mine.

bq.. Two monks were on a pilgrimage. One day, they came to a deep river. At the edge of the river, a young woman sat weeping, because she was afraid to cross the river without help. She begged the two monks to help her. The younger monk turned his back. The members of their order were forbidden to touch a woman.

But the older monk picked up the woman without a word and carried her across the river. He put her down on the far side and continued his journey. The younger monk came after him, scolding him and berating him for breaking his vows. He went on this way for a long time.

Finally, at the end of the day the older monk turned to the younger one. “I only carried her across the river. You have been carrying her all day.

There are many ways to read this. The way I read it and understand it - to not hold on to any idea or dogma for too long, without questioning the reasoning behind it, lest I behave like the monkeys in the monkey, banana and water spray experiment.

Also this:

I never wish to be easily defined. I’d rather float over other people’s minds as something strictly fluid and non-perceivable; more like a transparent, paradoxically iridescent creature rather than an actual person. — Franz Kafka