Welcome to the archived web site of
Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. Psychologist (1950-2013)
California License No. PSY 10092
Specializing in Presence-Centered Therapy
balancing mind and heart, body and spirit
Now in memoriam - This website is no longer being updated
Articles by Dr. Friedman (except where noted otherwise)
Care or Carry
A Zen Tale adapted by Will Joel Friedman
2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
It was a time that was out of time, in but not of time, yet most like our own time. That time, long long ago, was when rivers flowed backwards and things fell up, at least sometimes. The certain was unsure and the unsure was certain, as the only thing predictable was unpredictability and the only thing consistent was inconsistency. It was a magical time, yet filled with practical learning's. This is a story of finding solid ground amidst shifting sands of time.
Once long ago, in the age of Robin Hood and Sherwood forest, two monks happened to be taking their Saturday morning constitutional, or moving meditation, by reverently walking through that very forest. It was the spring of the year and there was still at least a foot of multi-colored leaves on the forest floor. As they joyfully communed with all of nature, noticing the dancing dust particles on the beams of bright light shinning through the dense forest of trees, they silently walked on.
The two monks soon came to some water. The hot, early spring had melted the heavy winter snowpack, and this had resulted in the normally small stream swelling into a fast moving river. There they noticed a lovely young woman dressed in brightly colored, silk garments headed to the city. She implored them, "Oh, thank God, men of the cloth. I've been here for hours and no one has been willing to help me across. Would you please help me?"
Upon seeing her, one monk immediately became stern-faced, stiff-necked, and turned away briskly. The other monk listened and responded, "Come on, get on board," and with this bent over so she could climb on his back. He stepped on several big stones and part of a tree trunk, splashed a little near the other side, and set her down safely and largely dry.
She was profusely grateful and thankful. The monk smiled and replied, "It's my pleasure.
Go in peace with God." With this, she headed in her direction, while the two monks headed in theirs.
The monk that had turned away was obviously upset, as could be seen with the many shades of crimson his face turned. They walked in this way for some distance, both remaining silent. By one account it was within a mile, another after five miles, and still another after fifty miles that the angry monk finally exploded.
"HOW COULD YOU? HOW DARE YOU? Monks don't go near females, especially young, beautiful ones. It's dangerous and not befitting," he bellowed at the top of his lungs. "How could you do that??" he went on. This verbal rampage of venting his entire spleen continued for some time. The monk who had helped the woman simply listened, nodded occasionally, and walked on without saying anything.
After some time, now quite some distance from the stream, the angry monk paused to catch his breath, since he had run out of air. At this very instant, the helpful monk stopped in his tracks. Pointing back where they had travelled, he said, "Oh, her. I left her back there. Are you still carrying her?"
While this story supposedly stops here, I wonder what happened next.
I imagine the furious monk experienced these words as if he had been struck by lightning or a tidal wave. In this shock, he became reflective.
Quite unremarkably, the two monks continued walking until they reached their sanctuary. Quite naturally, along the way, the now no longer slumbering monk began to breath through his upset, releasing his many emotions.
After this, he found himself dialoguing within himself, questioning just how helpful his thinking had been, for this seemed to be underneath his upset. He concluded that several ideas he had been carrying needed discarding, including how he could show kindness to a woman as a monk.
He decided, there and then, to put himself on a mental diet, eliminating the empty calories and unhealthy fat of carrying anyone or anything that was not his business. He vowed, from that moment on, to care deeply about life in all its diversity, but no longer carry it as a burdening weight.
At an appropriate time in their fellowship as monks, the reformed monk publically praised his companion. "It was that splash of ice cold water that awakened me in the forest," he said. "I learned to open my heart in kind compassion, instead of closing it in harsh judgment." His fellow monks crowded around him and celebrated their transformed friend.
This charming Zen tale shows how little is worth carrying, like heavy attachments, animosities, and judgments. Ever wonder what you're carrying that could better be cared about, nurtured and supported?
© Copyright 2013 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
Wills Perspective on Practicing Psychology: Dr.
Friedman's Practice | Dr.
Friedman's Approach | Therapeutic
Purposes | Credentials
| Experience | Brochures
| Interview | Events
and Workshops | Website Disclaimer