bucket of water (burdens)
A student and a Zen Master were at a creek, filling a bucket with water. As they began to leave the Zen Master offered to carry the water but the student insisted that he would carry the bucket, stating, “It’s not that heavy!”
The student carried the bucket of water walking behind the Zen Master. After awhile the student said, “This bucket of water is getting heavy.” Shifting the bucket to his other hand.
The Zen Master replied, “It is the same weight now that it was when we got the water from the creek.” The student agreed and continued onward. It wasn’t long till the student said, “My arms grow tiered and I must rest.” He placed the bucket on the ground.
The Zen Master then said, “The bucket of water is like your burdens. It is the exact same weight all the time, but the longer you carry it, the heavier it becomes. You must set your burdens down periodically and rest awhile so you can become refreshed, the same as this bucket of water, understand?” The student acknowledged that he understood as the Zen Master picked up the bucket of water and they continued onward.
The student felt uncomfortable having the Zen Master do labor and said, “I will carry the water, I am rested now.”
The Zen Master said, “I will share the burden with you, besides, if I do not use these old muscles from time to time they will forget what they are for and I will be unable to carry my own burdens.”
(moral: the burdens we carry become heavier the longer we carry them. As the Zen Master said, put your burdens to the side, from time to time and rest awhile. When ever possible share a burden with another, like cooking or cleaning. I try and split the chores with my wife and we equally share the burden of house work. Four hands are better than two any day.)