“Accomplish but do not boast,
accomplish without show,
accomplish without arrogance.”
A long time ago in China, two monks were traveling in a carriage returning to their monastery. One was an old master with a gentle smile and sparkling eyes. While his hands looked like old pine trees twisted by age, his back was straight and his mind most sharp. The other one was a young monk and his student. While he was in the prime of his youth, unlike his master, he retained a rather stern demeanour and small lines had already started to form between his thin eyebrows.
After many days of travel, they finally reached the village at the foot of the mountain where their monastery was located. It was raining steadily. A large puddle greeted the travelers as they stepped out of the carriage.
A lady dressed in long robes and wearing silk slippers looked upon the puddle. “How can I come down? This is terrible! I will get my clothes and my slippers all dirty!”
Upon seeing her distress, the old monk gently lifted her in his arms and carried her across the puddle to a dry place under a large tree. His legs were all muddied and his sandals and robe soaked. He bowed and smiled at her, both gestures left unrequited.
Still smiling, the old master called upon his student so they may start their long walk up the mountain to the monastery.
They walked in silence. The old monk humming some mantras, listening to the birds and caressing the high grass with his palms.
After some time, the young monk turned to his master, and with deeper than usual lines between his thin eyebrows, told him:
“This is just terrible! You carried the lady across the puddle, got all muddied and wet, and she never thanked you! How ungrateful of her!”
The old monk replied with a gentle smile: “I stopped carrying the lady hours ago, while it seems you are still carrying her!”