Two monks were on their way back to the monastery. The eldest of them walked first because younger monks are expected to go behind the older ones. They came to a river crossing where a beautiful young woman was standing.
– Please, can you help me cross the river, the woman asked the older monk. I dare not cross it by myself. The current looks strong and I don’t know how deep it is. Can I hold your hand?
The old monk closed his eyes and pretended not to notice the woman. As a monk you should not be tempted, so he rolled up the legs of his trousers and stepped into the river without her.
A few steps after came the younger monk.
– Please monk, begged the woman. Help me across the river. I don’t dare to by myself. The current looks strong and I don’t know how deep it is. Can I hold your hand?
– It is deep here and holding hands won’t be enough, he replied. Climb onto my back and I’ll carry you over to the other side.
Many miles later, outside the monastery the old monk turned to the younger:
– You have committed a sin, and I will report you! Not only did you talk to the woman, not only did you touch her, but you carried her on your back, her body pressed against yours. You should be expelled from our order!
The young monk laughed and said:
– I let her down on the other side of the river more than three miles back. You’re the one who is still carrying her around in your thoughts.