by Friends of Godwin
There is a very well known Zen story that shows very clearly the process of holding onto these experiences. Two Zen monks were walking together, and they came to a place where there was a stream. There was also a girl there who could not cross the stream by herself. One of the monks lifted up this girl and carried her across the stream. Then he placed her down and they continued on their walk.
The following day the other monk said: “You know, you should not have touched that girl, you should not have carried her across the stream. We are monks and we are not supposed to do that.” Then the other monk responded: “I left her on the other shore, but you are still carrying her!” This is what we are doing, we are carrying things we should have put down, so it is very interesting for us to know what we are carrying.
We all have selective memories. If someone has a very strong self-destructive aspect he or she will be carrying only the minuses, only the failures. Only the wrong things others have done. It is natural, as we are human, that some of our past experiences have had a deep effect, so unlike the mirror we hold on to them and do not let them go.
We have to learn to let go of things that we are holding onto, that arise from our memories. When they arise from our memory we start judging them, especially by giving minuses, and then we push them away. In the technique of the mirror-like mind we are there with all these things, allowing anything we are holding onto in our memory to come up. We are just being a passive observer, allowing these things to come and allowing them to go. Things that arise can be in the form of emotions, they can be in the form of memories, they can even be sensations in the body. We don’t realise what we carry in our body, but we carry all our past experiences in our body. Tensions and unpleasant sensations sometimes are related to repressed emotions. When pain and unpleasant sensations arise in the body, just like the mirror you learn to observe them, just to create space for them, just to make friends with them.