In 1996 I attended a few sesshins/workshops at Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskills. It was at one of these that I met Chuck Tripi, then the Senior Pilot in charge of all the pilots for American Airlines at LaGuardia Airport.
I was standing on the bridge over the creek that wrought so much havoc in the neighborhood when it went on its rampages. In fact, I think the bridge was then closed to traffic due to the latest devastating floods.
Chuck came up next me on the bridge and, with my permission (speaking didn’t come easily after sesshin), he told me a lovely “Zen story”.
It seems two monks, who had taken a vow of silence, were doing walking meditation by a river. Suddenly they heard a woman screaming from the water. She couldn’t swim and she was drowning.
The elder monk immediately jumped into the water, calmed her, and pulled her to the shore, where she collapsed. After making sure she was finally all right, he returned to his companion and they resumed their walk.
About an hour later the second monk couldn’t stand it any more.
“You took a vow of silence, yet you rescued that woman and spoke to her!” he exclaimed.
“Oh,” said the older monk, “Are you still carrying that woman? I left her on the river bank an hour ago!”