Two Buddhist monks, on their way to the monastery, found an exceedingly beautiful woman at the river bank. Like them, she wanted to cross the river, but the water was too high. So one of them took her across on his shoulders.

The other was thoroughly scandalized. For two hours he scolded the offender for his breach of the Rule: Had he forgotten he was a monk? How had he dared to touch the woman? And worse, carry her over the river? And what would people say? Had he not disgraced their holy Religion? And so on.

The victim took if gamely. At the end of the lecture he said, “Brother, I dropped that woman at the river. Are you carrying her still?”

The Arab mystic, Abu Hassan Bushanja, says, “The act of sinning is not so harmful as the desire and the thought of it. It is one thing for the body to indulge in pleasure for a moment, and quite another for the mind and heart to chew on it endlessly.”

Each time I chew on the sins of others, I suspect the chewing gives me greater pleasure than the sinning gives the sinner.

An excerpt from Anthony de Mello’s Song of the Bird

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