The story of a female rower taking a monk crossing the river

Update: 24/10/2021
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva in legends often incarnates all forms to save sentient beings having predestined conditions. There is a monk who practices diligently but has not yet attained enlightenment. There is a river in front of the temple, each three days, the monk will cross the river to visit a friend.

The story of a female rower taking a monk crossing the river


One day, the monk got on a boat with some passengers. Today, the boatman taking the monk across the river was not the usual ferryman, but this time it was a very beautiful girl.

When docked, the female rower collected money from each person, and finally came to the monk.

With the monk, she demanded "double" money.

The monk was surprised and asked: Why?

The girl smiles:

Because you looked at, besides the money for the boat, I added the money to look at me too.

The monk silently paid the bill and stepped ashore.

Another day the monk crossed the river again.

This time also met the girl, and when she got to the dock, the girl asked for "triple" money.

The monk asked: Why?

The girl smiled and said:

-This time you didn't look directly, but looked at me underwater and thought I didn't know, so you looked longer.

The monk silently paid the bill and stepped ashore.

Another time the monk has to cross the river again. As soon as he stepped onto the boat, he closed his eyes and concentrated as if he were meditating.

The boat docked the girl to collect money, but this time the price was higher than previous times, collecting five times.

The monk asked: Why?

The female rower replied:

You don't look at me with your eyes but with your heart, your mind still thinks about me.

Monk paid and disembarked the shore.

After that time, he tried his best to practice incessantly, contemplating on the impermanent and illusory body; He saw the complete impurity and the process of birth and death in the body, .... His practice then progressed very quickly; he was bored with the beauty of women.

And this time the monk crossed the river again.

When he got on the boat, he calmly looked at the girl….in his gaze now radiates a fresh peace; still looking like everyone else, without any being infatuated,...

The boat docked, the monk smiled in his compassionate eyes and asked:

-How much?

The girl replied:

-The monk looks at me without thinking of me...The mind has no attachment. So I'll just take you across the river...

Inner peace and calm, they always look at life with "impermanent" eyes, with a heart containing true love, that love in Buddhism is called compassion.

The Lotus Sutra, the chapter of Universal Gate, praises Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara: that is, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva always uses "loving eyes to see life". However, most of us still cherish the thoughts of greed, envy, and selfishness that will manifest a look that is no longer pure or natural. If one hopes to have such a "natural" and "pure" look, a "pure" look like a Bodhisattva, perhaps every practitioner has to go through a lot of practice. We remember that Master of Hoang Phap Pagoda wrote two wonderful verses as following:

 "Looking at a girl, I see directions floating clouds,

As gathering or separating from impermanence of flying clouds"

The Day of commemorating Avalokitesvara, September 19th, Year of the Buffalo

Thi La
Translated into English by Nguyen Tri 

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