There is a Zen story about two monks walking down a street after a heavy rain. Arriving at a corner, they came upon a beautiful girl in fine clothing unable to cross the muddy street without getting filthy.
“Here, I’ll help you,” said one monk. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her to the other side. The two monks walked in silence for a long time.
“We’ve sworn a vow of celibacy and are not supposed to go near women. It’s dangerous,” the second monk said to the first. “Why did you do that?”
“I left the girl back at the corner,” the first monk said. “Are you still carrying her?”
Sometimes, we may find ourselves in a situation where our ideals conflict.
Being kind and loving to another person may conflict with our value of being committed and loving toward ourselves.
When one ideal imposes on another, then use your judgment.
Do the right thing by others.
Do the right thing by yourself, too.
Then let the incident pass and move on.
For the monks in our story, right action usually meant not having contact with women.
However, when encountering a stranded person on the road, right action became helping others.
Right thought, right action, right speech-but the path to those ideals may twist and turn throughout life.
Be sensitive and aware that you are following an ideal and not a rigid belief.
In an earlier activity, we explored our goals and dreams list.
Now, let’s determine the ethics and ideals we want to live by, the code of conduct we want to follow.
What’s of foremost importance to you, whether or not your dreams come true and you achieve your goals?
Examples of ideals may be staying clean and sober, honoring your commitments to others, and honoring your commitment to yourself.
Many people choose additional spiritual values, such as compassion, honesty, tolerance.
Some people choose to live by an ideal they call “Christ Consciousness,” some “Buddha consciousness,” some the “Twelve Steps,” and some the Ten Commandments.
List your ideals, and put that list with your goals.
Let these ideals be a light that guides your path and allows you to live in harmony with others and yourself.