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Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, were traveling on a pilgrimage. It was raining heavily and the streets were muddy. As the two monks neared a bend, they saw a beautiful maiden, dressed in silk and finery, standing by the bend. Being unable to cross the muddy intersection, she stood there, staring forlornly at the road ahead.
Without hesitation, Tanzan lifted the maiden in his arms. As a shocked Ekido watched, Tanzan carried the young girl over the mud and put her down at the end of the intersection.
Ekido did not speak about the incident and the monks continued on their journey. At nightfall, they reached a lodging temple. Unable to restrain himself any more, Ekido blurted out, “How could you, Tanzan! We are monks, sworn to purity! We do not go near women, especially not such beautiful, young maidens! It is risky for us monks! he reprimanded Tanzan. “Why did you do that?” Ekido further asked Tanzan.
“My friend,” replied Tanzan, “I left the girl at the intersection. However, it seems you are still carrying her!”