A Bridge has a Purpose
A bridge is there to help us traverse a gap in the landscape. Crossing the bridge is an essential part of our journey, but once we have crossed it, we have no further use for the bridge. Assuming that we do not want to return from where we came!
But why this talk of bridges?
Let me share a quote from a great teacher:
“Learning is never cumulative; it is a movement of knowing which has no beginning and no end.”
The Story of the Monks
I came across this little story and it opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about my quest to learn and understand. I will now share an adapted version of this Buddhist short story with you…
Two monks we walking on their journey when they came across a raging river. Stood at the side of the river was a small young woman who wanted to cross to the other side. The river was raging so wild, she was afraid that she would be washed away if she tried to cross.
Seeing this, the older of the two monks offered to carry her on his back though the river and over to the other side. The young woman was very pleased and relieved.
The monks then proceed to cross the river, giving the young woman the help she needed.
About two miles down the road, the young monk turned to the older monk with a perplexed expression on his face and said; “I cannot believe what you did back there, for it is forbidden for us as monks to touch a woman”.
The old monk smiled and said; “You appear to still be carrying the woman, I put her down when we reached the other side of the river”.
You see, in life, we only need to carry things as long as we actually need to… and the beauty of this is that quite often the definition of what we need is our choice too.
The experience of learning is about being able to take the next step. Empowering ourselves to make what we have learned is possible, an actual reality in our life.
As our reality evolves moment to moment, so does our process of learning.
I remember the first day starting my A-Level chemistry course… the first thing the teacher said was; “remember all the stuff we taught you at GCSE, well, it was all a bit too oversimplified and is not really true, you need to let go of that now and be prepared to learn it all again!”.
Remember the monk carrying the woman… he was non-attached. The practice of non-attachment applies equally to our learnings and psychological processes as it does to the material world around us.
Ultimately, our external material world when perceived by our senses it is just piped in to our mind in the form of data in the same way that our thoughts and feelings are. There is no separation between the two and as such they can be treated in the same way…
Simply let go of what you once needed when you no longer need it. Regardless of how significant the gap was that the bridge helped you cross; once you have crossed, you have crossed.
Yes, it is cool to remember the bridge fondly, but do not keep trying to reuse the bridge when it has served its purpose. Enjoy the view from your perspective on the other side and search out the next bridge to help you on your journey…
I’ll leave you with this favourite quote of mine:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Enjoy, for now.