Series on Emotional Intelligence: The monks and the lady of the night

Being able to connect to our emotions—having a moment-to-moment connection with our changing emotional experience—is the key to understanding how emotion influences our thoughts and actions. For this, one has to practice mindfulness. It helps shift our preoccupation with thoughts toward an appreciation of the moment, physical and emotional sensations, and brings a larger perspective on life. Mindfulness calms and focuses us, making us more self-aware in the process. Read on…


Two travelling monks reached a ford in a river where they met a young lady of the night. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders. Together the monks strode through the river until they reached the other side. The monk set the woman down on the other bank. She thanked him and continued her journey.

As the monks continued on their way, one was brooding and preoccupied. Unable to hold his silence, he spoke with anger. “Brother, our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women—let alone that sort of woman—but you picked that one up on your shoulders and carried her!”

“Brother,” the second monk replied, “I set her down on the other side, while you are still carrying her”.