As two Zen monks walked along a muddy, rain-drenched road, they came upon a lovely woman attempting to cross a swollen stream. The elder monk stopped beside the woman, lifted her in his arms, and carried her as he forded the stream. He set her gently down on the dry ridge of the road at the opposite side the while, the younger monk discreetly admired the woman's charms.
After bowing politely to the woman, the two monks continued down the muddy road. The younger monk was sullen and silent as they walked along. They traveled the hills, down around the valleys, through a town, and under forest trees. At last, after many hours had passed, the younger monk scolded the elder, "You are aware that we monks do not touch women! Why did you carry that girl?"
elder monk slowly turned and smiled. He said, "My dear young brother, you
have such heavy thoughts! I left the woman alongside the road hours ago. Why are
you still carrying her?"