Two monks had taken a strict vow of celibacy which forbade them to touch a woman, even in the slightest of gestures.
One day, while taking a contemplative walk through the woods, they came upon a river. As they were about to cross, a woman lying on the riverbank called out to them. “Please sirs, I have twisted my ankle and need to get across the river to my home in the village. Would you be kind enough to carry me across?”
The first monk began to respond about how this was impossible given their vow but to his surprise, the second monk had already bent down, carried the woman on his back, and started wading through the strong currents.
They made it across the river and to the woman’s village where the second monk left her with the village doctor. The two monks then resumed their trek through the woods.
After two hours, the first monk said, “Brother, I have to talk to you. I cannot stand it anymore. I am so disturbed by what you did back there. Why did you carry the woman? Have you forgotten our sacred vow? Does it have no meaning for you? Our superior has told us that we must not even graze a single strand of a woman’s hair, and yet here you are brazenly carrying one across your back!”
The second monk replied, “Brother, I left the woman in her village two hours ago. Why do you still carry her?”