At Arms Length
I’ve long admired Starfoxy’s personal blog and astute comments here and around the blogs. She’s graciously agreed to grace Exponent II with some guest posts over the next few weeks. Starting now . . .
There’s a parable I heard recently. I think it’s Buddhist, but I’m not sure. It goes like this:
Two monks were walking alongside a road that was tremendously muddy from the recent rains. As they walked they came across a woman dressed in fine silk clothing. The woman explained that she needed to cross the road but could see no way to walk across without ruining her clothes. The first monk cheerfully offered to carry her across the muddy road. She thanked him gratefully as he set her down and she went on her way.
As the monks continued walking the second monk was troubled, and when the first monk asked him why he said “I have been taught that women are a dangerous temptation, they can cloud your mind and distract you from the path. I don’t see how you could just pick that woman up and carry her around as if it were nothing.”
The first monk responded, “I put that woman down by the side of the road and left her there. Why are you still carrying her?”
Aside from the pithy one-line ending, I thought this is a great parable that has wide variety of meanings which are incredibly fun to pick at. Lately I’ve been thinking especially about dealing with ‘dangerous’ people. Is there a ‘best practice,’ a simple default way to act that will prevent temptation in most or all cases? Or are such blanket statements a dangerous foothold for un-Christlike attitudes towards other people?
Now it’s time for my (hopefully) pithy one-line ending: What if those monks were missionaries?