Two Zen monks, an older monk and a young student monk had been sent to town for provisions, and here now journeying back to their ashram.
Presently they came to the banks of a fast-flowing river, here they found a young woman huddled on the bank, unable to cross the current by herself. Immediately the older monk went to the woman, picked her up in his arms, and carried her safely across.
At the other side, he placed her feet down on the ground, bowed, and went on his way.
The younger monk, who had crossed the river alone, walked alongside the elder monk with a brooding look on his face. He was obviously upset. After the two had walked together in silence for several miles, the young man's anxiety reached the bursting point, and finally, he could not contain himself any longer.
He turned to the older monk and cried out, "Do you not know it is against our rules to touch a woman? How could you do such a thing? You have broken the holy vows!"
The older monk turned to him and replied gently, "Brother, I left that young woman on the banks of the river three miles back. But, look -- you are still carrying her!"
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