Two Buddhist monks, a senior and a junior, were walking through the forest. They came across a river which they would have to swim across to continue their journey to the other side. There was a woman who was sitting at the bank of the river. She did not know how to cross the river and requested the monks to carry her to the other side.
The junior monk politely refused. But the senior monk put the woman on his back, swam across the river, and dropped her safely to the other side – without saying a word. The junior monk was aghast that the older monk had broken his vow to not touch a woman as a celibate monk, but did not say anything. An hour passed as they travelled on. Then two hours. Then three. Finally, the agitated junior monk could stand it no longer, and asked, “Why did you carry that woman when we took a vow as monks not to touch women?”
The senior monk smiled, and said, “Brother, I dropped the woman on the bank of the river a long time ago. However, it seems that you are still carrying her around in your head.”
This is a powerful story of the thoughts we keep in our heads and how it determines our peace of mind, actions and understanding of the world. When goodness comes from the inside, it radiates and touches everything you come into contact with. But often, we are so caught in our self-image, our conditioning and our thoughts that we become a pattern of behaviours that is based on other people’s expectations and values.
A renowned psychologist has said, “Once you draw a conclusion about yourself, you are likely to do two things; look for evidence that reinforces your belief and discount anything that runs contrary to your belief.”
This is also true about the labels we place on others. When you choose to restrict yourself to strong belief systems, you are likely to restrict your potential at looking at things more openly, finding solutions, engaging with others more freely. You are likely to be close minded in your relationships and unable to accept opposing ideas and thoughts.
The good news is, you can change how you think. Acknowledging exceptions to the rule will remind you that your belief isn’t always true. With practice, you can train your brain to think differently. When you give up self-limiting beliefs and strong judgements, you are better equipped to live a fuller and more meaningful life.
You are ultimately what you think. Choose your thoughts wisely.