Two monks walking through the countryside toward another village. As they came to the edge of a river, they saw an old woman sitting there, upset because there was no bridge. The first monk offered to carry her across, to the woman’s great relief. So the two monks joined hands, lifted her between them and carried her across the river. When they got to the other side, they set her down, and she went on her way.

After they had walked another mile or so, the second monk began to complain. “Look at my clothes,” he said. “They are filthy from carrying that woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff.” The first monk just smiled and nodded his head.

A few minutes later, the second monk griped again, “My back is hurting me so badly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river! I cannot go any farther because of the pain. Why is it you’re not complaining about it, too? Doesn’t your back hurt?”

“Of course not,” the first monk replied. “You’re still carrying the woman, but I set her down five miles ago.”

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