Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Coming-Of-Age Rituals

In many faiths & countries

From the pages of Religious Tolerance.

Coming-of-age ceremonies are held when a child or youth becomes recognized as an adult for the first time. These rituals were and are found in almost all aboriginal societies. In modern times, the transition into adulthood often happens without a formal, public celebration.

The Rites of Passage Institute of Cleveland, OH notes that: "The final entrance into adulthood has been provided from time immemorial by the 'coming of age' ceremony. Like the other major life chronicle ceremonies accompanying birth, marriage and death, the coming of age ceremony located the individual anew within the surrounding community and indeed with the universe as a whole. It was a critical moment of expansion, the entrance into larger responsibilities, larger privileges, larger secrets, larger institutions, and larger understandings. It amounted to a second birth, entry not into physical life but into higher life of culture and the spirit. Accordingly, it called for the society to display itself to full effect, giving presence to its myths and traditions, physical expression to its animating beliefs." 10

These rituals take many forms among different religions and countries:

Religiously or culturally-based observances:

Ancient Heathenism:

This is a form of Paganism. It is being reconstructed from the beliefs and practices of various ancient societies which occupied a large area of Northern Europe from Russia to Iceland. They recognize Frey, Freya, Frigg, Odin, Thor, Tyr and others as deities. One Heathen website describes a coming of age ceremony, which is typically performed on the child's birthday or on a seasonal celebration. It may involve posing a riddle, listing the child's talents, optionally choosing a new name, receiving a symbol of adulthood, welcoming the child as a new adult into the Kindred (congregation), and a giving of gifts. 4

Apache Tribe:

The Apaches are one of about 500 aboriginal societies who once occupied North America. They have a four-day rite of puberty -- the Apache Sunrise Ceremony, called "na'ii'ees." It " one of the most important events in an Apache female's life." In an act of unusual bigotry and religious intolerance, the U.S. government banned this and other ceremonies in the early 1900s. It was only decriminalized in 1978 when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was signed into law. The ritual " intended to imbue the girls with the spirit and characteristics of White Painted Woman, the Apache culture's first woman - also called Esdzanadehe or Changing Woman. The girls' skin is painted and covered with a sacred mixture of pollen and clay, which they must not wash off during the entire ceremony." The ritual itself is physically demanding. The girls have to pray, dance for hours, sit with their backs straight, and perform other physically draining activities. They are given instruction in sexuality, self-esteem, dignity, confidence, and healing ability. They are told to pray towards the east at dawn and in the four cardinal directions, which represent the four stages of life. 12


Roman Catholics: Catholics believe that Confirmation "...completes the process of initiation into the Christian community, and it matures the soul for the work ahead....During Confirmation, God the Holy Spirit comes upon the person, accompanied by God the Father and God the Son, just as he did at Pentecost." Sometimes, those who have been confirmed are called "Soldiers of Christ." This refers to their spiritual duty to fight evil, darkness and Satan. 5

Igbo tribe:

This tribe in Nigeria once had a traditional coming-of-age ritual for both boys and girls. Colonialism and oppression by the Christian church almost destroyed it. An Igbo group of African-Americans, the Otu Umunne Cultural Organization, has attempted to reconstruct the ritual in the U.S. The "...male initiates spent the night with the Otu Umunne fathers at a designated location, while the female initiates did the same with the Otu Umunne mothers" elsewhere. The children are taught teamwork, leadership, values, responsibilities, moral decisions, freedom, and valuing their heritage. Candles are lit, and prayers recited. The children pledge to conduct themselves in a manner that gives glory to God and that will command respect for them, their families abroad, in the ancestral land of the Igbo tribe -- Nigeria -- and to the American community where they live. 14


The Interfaith Families Project is composed of families from the Washington DC area which follow two religious traditions. They celebrate the passage of their children "into young adulthood and to embrace their emerging identities as adolescents." It is held during the children's 8th grade year of religious education. 3


Girls reach the status of Bat Mitzvah on their 12th birthday. Boys achieve Bar Mitzvah on their 13th birthday. They are then recognized as adults and are personally responsible to follow the Jewish commandments and laws. Males are allowed to lead a religious service. They are counted in a "minyan" -- a quota of men necessary to perform certain parts of religious services. Following their Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah they can sign contracts and testify in religious courts. In theory, they can marry, although the Talmud recommends 18 to 24 as the optimum age range for marriage.


Female Circumcision (a.k.a. female genital mutilation, female genital cutting, and FGM) is widely practiced in the Northern and Western parts of Africa. It is an invasive and painful surgical procedure that is usually performed without anesthetic on girls before puberty. Their clitoris is partially or completely removed. This inhibits or terminates sexual feelings. FGM has been a social custom in parts of Africa for many centuries. Many people incorrectly link FGM with the religion of Islam. Actually, it is a social custom that is practiced by Animists, Christians, and Muslims in those countries where FGM is common. There are many Muslim countries in which the mutilation is unknown. It is currently performed as a rite-of-passage in most of the districts of Kenya. A nongovernmental agency, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake (MYWO) has been encouraging the public to abandon FGM. They have introduced an "alternative rite" (AR) in which girls are taken to a secluded location and given family life education, including information on human sexuality. This is followed by a public graduation ceremony in which they are recognized as having become adults. 13

Unitarian Universalist

This is a unusual religion. It is composed of seekers. The purpose of the minister is not to tell the congregation what to believe and how to behave. Her or his main task is to help the membership in their own quest for truth. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Haverhill, MA has a coming of age program which is offered to the ninth grade students in their religious education courses. Each student is teamed with a mentor who is an adult volunteer from the congregation. Students learn about world religions including a detailed study of their own religion. They discuss their personal beliefs with their family, their mentor and fellow students. They are expected to spend at least five hours working on a service project. Finally, each student writes their own statement of beliefs as they currently exist. The program ends with their participation " a Sunday service that will honor their Coming of Age."

Secular-based observances:

Australia, New Zealand and many other countries:

A party called "The Twenty First" is often held to celebrate a youth having come of age. It is held on their 21st birthday.


Since 1948, people who will have their 20th birthday during a given year celebrate the Coming of Age day on the second Monday in January. It is a national holiday. The male Samurai warriors once had a similar celebration called Genpuku, which was observed between the ages of about 12 to 18. 1


The Confucian coming-of-age ceremony is called Gwallye and is held for both boys and girls aged 15 to 20. 2

References used:

  1. "Coming of Age," Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, at:
  2. "Coming -of-Age Ceremony," National Folk Museum of Korea, at:
  3. "Interfaith Families Project Coming of Age Program," Interfaith Families Project of the Greater Washington DC Area, at:
  4. Thorskegga Thorn, "Coming of age ceremony (Thorshof)," Milgard's Web, at:
  5. "Coming of Age: Confirmation," Derived from the book by John Trigilio & Kenneth Brighenti, "Catholicism for Dummies," For Dummies, (2003). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store.
  6. Laura Bryannan, "Woman Ritual," Chapter 21 from "Dancing in the Shadows," unpublished.
  7. The Ethical Society of St. Louis has a web site at: The American Ethical Union (AEU) has a web site at: The International Humanist and Ethical Union has a web site at: .
  8. "Coming of Age in the Ethical Society Sunday School," The Ethical Society of St. Louis, at:
  9. LadyHakwe (S. Michelle Koon), "Girl's/Young Woman's Coming of Age," ChristianWitches Yahoo! group, 2004-JUN-3, at:
  10. "Growing up modern - Coming of age," Rites of Passage Institute, at:
  11. "Coming of Age," Unitarian Universalist Church of Haverhill, MA, at:
  12. Paul L Allen, "Coming of age: Apache twins Fayreen and Farren Holden are welcomed into adulthood in a four-day tribal ceremony," Tucson Citizen, 2001-JUL-26, at:
  13. "Kenya Female Genital Cutting: Community sensitization must precede alternate coming-of-age rite," Population Council, 2002-MAY, at:
  14. Victoria Nneka Agu, "The 'Rite of Passage' Celebration or 'Coming of Age' in Igbo land," (2002), at:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Prayers for Peace From the World's Religious Traditions

Harvard Divinity School Prayers For Peace

Prayers for Peace From the World's Religious Traditions

These prayers for peace were offered in Assisi, Italy, on the Day of Prayer for World Peace during the U.N. International Year of Peace, 1986.

We remember the sacred words and prayers of the world's peoples throughout the ages as they longed and worked for peace. In this present moment, we pause in our own longing to rest from our work and to touch the center. Here and now, we make their words our own. So may our hearts be joined.

A Baha'i Prayer for Peace

Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity. Be fair in thy judgment and guarded in thy speech. Be a lamp unto those who walk in darkness and a home to the stranger. Be eyes to the blind and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humility.

A Buddhist Prayer for Peace

May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses. May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free. May the powerless find power and may people think of befriending one another. May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wildernesses—the children, the aged, the unprotected—be guarded by beneficent celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.

A Christian Prayer for Peace

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."
"But I say to you that hear, love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who abuse you. To those who strike you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from those who take away your cloak, do not withhold your coat as well. Give to everyone who begs from you, and of those who take away your goods, do not ask them again. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."

A Hindu Prayer for Peace

Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real. Oh God, lead us from darkness to light. Oh God, lead us from death to immortality. Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all. Oh Lord God almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions. May there be peace on earth. May the waters be appeasing. May herbs be wholesome, and may trees and plants bring peace to all. May all beneficent beings bring peace to us. May the Vedic Law propagate peace all through the world. May all things be a source of peace to us. And may thy peace itself bestow peace on all and may that peace come to me also.

An Islamic Prayer for Peace

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful: Praise be to the Lord of the Universe who has created us and made us into tribes and nations that we may know each other, not that we may despise each other. If the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust in God, for the Lord is one that hears and knows all things. And the servants of God Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility, and when we address them, we say, "Peace."

A Jain Prayer for Peace

Peace and Universal Love is the essence of the Gospel preached by all the Enlightened Ones. The Lord has preached that equanimity is the Dharma. I forgive all creatures, and may all creatures forgive me. Unto all have I amity, and unto none, enmity. Know that violence is the root cause of all miseries in the world. Violence in fact is the knot of bondage. "Do not injure any living being." This is the eternal, perennial, and unalterable way of spiritual life. A weapon, however powerful it may be, can always be superseded by a superior one; but no weapon can be superior to nonviolence and love.

A Jewish Prayer for Peace

Come, let us go to the mountain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High. And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more. And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.

A Native African Prayer for Peace

Almighty God, the Great Thumb we cannot evade to tie any knot, the Roaring Thunder that splits mighty trees, the all-seeing Lord on high who sees even the footprints of an antelope on a rock mass here on Earth, you are the one who does not hesitate to respond to our call. You are the cornerstone of peace.

A Native American Prayer for Peace

O Great Spirit of our Ancestors, we raise the pipe to you, to your messengers the four winds, and to Mother Earth who provides for your children. Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect, to be kind to each other so that they may grow with peace in mind. Let us learn to share all the good things that you provide for us on this Earth.

A Shinto Prayer for Peace

Although the people living across the ocean surrounding us, I believe, are all our brothers and sisters, why are there constant troubles in this world? Why do winds and waves rise in the ocean surrounding us? I only earnestly wish that the wind will soon puff away all the clouds which are hanging over the tops of the mountains.

A Sikh Prayer for Peace

God judges us according to our deeds, not the coat that we wear. Truth is above everything, but higher still is truthful living. Know that we attain God when we love, and only that victory endures in consequence of which no one is defeated.

A Zoroastrian Prayer for Peace

We pray to God to eradicate all the misery in the world, that understanding triumph over ignorance, that generosity triumph over contempt, and that truth triumph over falsehood.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

New Year in many traditions

Yesterday was the day of the Chinese Lunar New Year! I thought it would be interesting to see when other traditions celebrate their New Year, too. Nearly every major religion celebrates a new year, but the diversity in the timing of the new year is amazing!

(New Years Fireworks over Hong Kong...not sure what year.)

African (Ethiopian) –

September 11. "It's said that this day has been celebrated every year since the Queen of Sheba returned home after visiting King Solomon in Jerusalem. Tribal chiefs welcomed her back by replenishing her treasury with jewels. And so the New Year's Day festivities began."

Anglo-Saxon –

The eve of December 24 (which, back then, would have been the night before the December 25th Winter Solstice).

Baha'I New Year – Naw Ruz – on the Vernal Equinox which was also the traditional Persian and Ancient Roman New Year.

British/Celtic Ancient – Samhain, October 31st.

Buddhist –

"In Theravadin countries, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Lao, the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April. In Mahayana countries the new year starts on the first full moon day in January. However, the Buddhist New Year depends on the country of origin or ethnic background of the people. As for example, Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese celebrate late January or early February according to the lunar calendar, whilst the Tibetans usually celebrate about one month later."

Christian – January 1st

Daoist – Chinese New Year – Solar New Year: usually around Feb 4th, when the sun reaches 315 degrees longitude. Lunar New Year: on the day of the second new moon after winter solstice

Egyptian Ancient –

"The first new moon following the reappearance of Sirius after it disappeared under the horizon for 70 days was established as the first day of the New Year ( Egypt: wepet senet) and of the achet (flood) period--even if the Nile had not yet started to rise." (Usually this occurred around the Summer Solstice)

Hindu –

"The Hindus of Nepal begin their new year Nava Varsha in the third week of March, and the people of Kashmir start the Kashmiri Lunar year - Navreh - in the second week of March. The southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh begin their new year - Ugadi - in late March or early April. The Maharashtrians celebrate their new year Gudi Padwa, during the same time."

Inca –

"…at Cuzco, the capital city of the Inca, there was an official calendar of the sidereal-lunar type, based on the sidereal month of 27 1/3 days. It consisted of 328 nights (12X271/3) and began on June 8/9, coinciding with the heliacal rising (the rising just after sunset) of the Pleiades; it ended on the first Full Moon after the June solstice (the winter solstice for the Southern Hemisphere)."

Jainist –

October 29 Jain New Year – Celebrated on the day after Diwali, this is the new year's day for the Jain religion (year 2065 in 2008). It is the day of the attainment of Moksha by Mahavir Swami and the day when his chief disciple Gautam Swami attained Kevalgnan.

Jewish –

September 30, 2008 Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) "begins on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri (Tishrei), is also called the Day of Judgment and Remembrance. It begins the Ten Days of Penitance. Originally, it was the day of the creation of man and woman. In Mishnaic times, it was the new year for years, for release, and for vegetable tithes. Rosh Hashanah 2008 begins the year 5767 in the Jewish calendar."

Mithraic – Winter Solstice.

Muslim –

"The Islamic New Year is a cultural event which some Muslims partake on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or emigration, Prophet Muhammad made to the city now known as Medina. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram migrates throughout the seasons."

Roman Ancient – the Romans originally celebrated New Year on the Vernal Equinox, but it was later moved to January 1, the day the Senate began its session.

Shinto –

January 1 – 3: Shogatsu (or Oshogatsu)

Sikh –

Vaisakhi is one of the most significant holidays in Sikh calendar, commemorating the establishment of the Khalsa in 1699; which marks the Sikh New Year.

Sumerian –

"The New Year´s Festival could be held in the autumn as well as in the spring. We translate Sumerian zagmuk, which means "beginning of the year", and the Akkadian akitu, which has uncertain meaning, but basically means New Year´s Festival because these feasts are essentially what the modern term indicates - festive celebrations of a new beginning in the annual cycle. However, in the Near East, Nature offers two starting points within the solar year, the one at the end of winter and the other at the end of the even more deadly summer. In Mesopotamia, the rains were important; in Babylon, the Akitu festival was celebrated in Spring, at the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox, in the month of Nisan, whereas in Ur and Uruk the festival took place in the fall as well as in the Spring, in the months of Tishri (or Teshris in the poem above) and Nisan."

Zoroastrian –

"No Ruz, new day or New Year as the Iranians call it, is a celebration of spring Equinox. . . . . The ancient Zoroastrians would also celebrate the first five days of No Ruz, but it was the sixth day that was the most important of all. This day was called the Great No Ruz (No Ruze bozorg) and is assumed to be the birthday of Zoroaster himself."

Friday, February 1, 2008

Two Monks Carry Woman

Zen Buddhist story

Two monks, going to a neighbouring monastery, walked side by side in silence. They arrived at a river they had to cross. That season, waters were higher than usual. On the bank, a young woman was hesitating and asked the younger of the two monks for help. He exclaimed, 'Don't you see that I am a monk, that I took a vow of chastity?'

'I require nothing from you that could impede your vow, but simply to help me to cross the river,' replied the young woman with a little smile.

'I...not...I nothing for you,' said the embarrassed young monk.

'It doesn't matter,' said the elderly monk. 'Climb on my back and we will cross together.'

Having reached the other bank, the old monk put down the young woman who, in return, thanked him with a broad smile. She left her side and both monks continued their route in silence. Close to the monastery, the young monk could not stand it anymore and said, 'You shouldn't have carried that person on your back. It's against our rules.'

'This young woman needed help and I put her down on the other bank. You didn't carry her at all, but she is still on your back,' replied the older monk.

Another Buddhist version:

Two monks were strolling by a stream on their way home to the monastery. They were startled by the sound of a young woman in a bridal gown, sitting by the stream, crying softly. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she gazed across the water. She needed to cross to get to her wedding, but she was fearful that doing so might ruin her beautiful handmade gown.

In this particular sect, monks were prohibited from touching women. But one monk was filled with compassion for the bride. Ignoring the sanction, he hoisted the woman on his shoulders and carried her across the stream--assisting her journey and saving her gown. She smiled and bowed with gratitude as he noisily splashed his way back across the stream to rejoin his companion.

The second monk was livid. "How could you do that?" he scolded. "You know we are forbidden even to touch a woman, much less pick one up and carry her around!"

The offending monk listened in silence to a stern lecture that lasted all the way back to the monastery. His mind wandered as he felt the warm sunshine and listened to the singing birds. After returning to the monastery, he fell asleep for a few hours. He was jostled and awakened in the middle of the night by his fellow monk. "How could you carry that woman?" his agitated friend cried out. "Someone else could have helped her across the stream. You were a bad monk!"

"What woman?" the tired monk inquired groggily.

"Don't you even remember? That woman you carried across the stream," his colleague snapped.

"Oh, her," laughed the sleepy monk. "I only carried her across the stream. You carried her all the way back to the monastery."

Still another Buddhist version (though I have my doubts of its authenticity):

Two monks are walking along a country path. They soon are met by a caravan, a group of attendants carrying their wealthy and not-so-kindly mistress and her possessions. They come to a muddy river, and cannot cross with both mistress and packages - they must put one down and cannot figure out how to do so. So the elder monk volunteers to carry the woman across the river, on his back, allowing the attendants to carry her things, and then all can go on their way. The woman does not thank him, and rudely pushes him aside to get back to her caravan.

After traveling some way on their own, the younger monk turns to his master, and says, "I cannot believe that old woman! You kindly carried her across the muddy river, on your very own back, and not only did she not offer thanks, but she actually was quite rude to you!" The master calmly and quietly turned to his student, and offered this observation: "I put the women down some time ago. Why are you still carrying her?"

Japanese Zen Buddhist version:

Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, traveling on pilgrimage, came to a muddy river crossing. There they saw a lovely young woman dressed in her kimono and finery, obviously not knowing how to cross the river without ruining her clothes.

Without further ado, Tanzan graciously picked her up, held her close to him, and carried her across the muddy river, placing her onto the dry ground. Then he and Ekido continued on their way. Hours later they found themselves at a lodging temple.

And here Ekido could no longer restrain himself and gushed forth his complaints: “Surely, it is against the rules what you did back there…. Touching a woman is simply not allowed…. How could you have done that? … And to have such close contact with her! … This is a violation of all monastic protocol…” Thus he went on with his verbiage. Tanzan listened patiently to the accusations.

Finally, during a pause, he said, “Look, I set that girl down back at the crossing. Are you still carrying her?”

(Based on an autobiographical story by Japanese master Tanzan, 1819-1892)

Christian medieval story

In one of my favorite stories, set in medieval times, two monks who are on a long journey are walking through a great forest. One is middle-aged, and has been with their monastic order for years. The other is a young novitiate. As they walk along the path, the hours go by, sometimes in conversation, sometimes in silence.

At one point, they come upon a wide, rapid stream. Sitting at the edge of the water is a young woman, who is evidently in some distress. As soon as she sees the two monks, a look of relief comes over her face, and she hurries up to them. "Father," she says, addressing the older of the two, "you would be doing me the greatest favor if you would carry me across. The water is swift, and I do not know how to swim. If I should slip and fall . . . ."

"Of course, my child," the monk replies, "I would be most willing to carry you across." The young novitiate shoots his companion a surprised glance--for under the rules of their order, they are strictly forbidden to touch women. Nevertheless, the older monk takes the young woman up in his arms, carries her across the stream, and sets her down safely on the other side. After thanking them graciously, she goes on her way, and the two monks continue on their journey.

There is silence between them for an hour, then two. Finally, the younger monk musters the courage to speak. "Father," he says, "you know that we are not allowed to touch women."

"Yes, I know."

"How, then, could you carry that woman across the stream?"

My son," he replied, "I put the young woman down two hours ago. But you are still carrying her."

Another Christian version (Catholic)

Two monks were making a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of a great Saint. During the course of their journey, they came to a river where they met a beautiful young woman -- an apparently worldly creature, dressed in expensive finery and with her hair done up in the latest fashion. She was afraid of the current and afraid of ruining her lovely clothing, so asked the brothers if they might carry her across the river.

The younger and more exacting of the brothers was offended at the very idea and turned away with an attitude of disgust. The older brother didn't hesitate, and quickly picked the woman up on his shoulders, carried her across the river, and set her down on the other side. She thanked him and went on her way, and the brother waded back through the waters.

The monks resumed their walk, the older one in perfect equanimity and enjoying the beautiful countryside, while the younger one grew more and more brooding and distracted, so much so that he could keep his silence no longer and suddenly burst out, "Brother, we are taught to avoid contact with women, and there you were, not just touching a woman, but carrying her on your shoulders!"

The older monk looked at the younger with a loving, pitiful smile and said, "Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river; you are still carrying her."

A Daoist Version

A monk and his novice were walking through the forest. They come to a stream. On the bank there was a beautifully dressed woman, crying. The monks asked her what was the matter. “I am on my way to a wedding. I have to cross the stream to get there, but the bridge has been washed away. I was searching for a place to cross where I wouldn’t ruin the dress, but I can’t find one and if I don’t make it across soon, I will be late.”

Without a word, the elder monk scooped her into his arms, waded across the stream, and deposited her on the other side. Ignoring her thanks, he waded back and the two monks resume their walk. They continued on their journey, but the younger monk was agitated and obviously had something on his mind. The elder monk stopped and asked him what was the matter.

“Elder, I am confused. Our vows prohibit us from fleshly contact with women, yet you embraced that woman in your arms. How can this be?” The elder monk eyed his novice with kindly concern. “Novice,” he asked, “I left her on the bank of the stream. Why do you still carry her?

From a Jewish website (though there is no claim it is a Jewish story):

Let me illustrate: Once there were two monks traveling on a pilgrimage who came to the ford of a river. There they saw a girl dressed in all her finery and obviously not knowing what to do, for the river was high and she did not want to ruin her clothes. Without any ado, one of the monks took her on his back, carried her across the river, and put her on dry ground.

Then the monks continued on their way. But, before long, the other monk started complaining, “Surely it is not right to touch a woman; it is against our command-ments to have close contact with women. How could you go against the rules for monks?” and so on he complained for what seemed like hours.

The monk who carried the girl walked along silently, but finally he remarked, “I set her down by the river, but you are still carrying her.”