There’s a story of A Master and His Student I like to tell that illustrates how we choose the content of our mind, and how we must not let our thoughts rule over us.
A master and his student were traveling through the country to reach their temple. One of the vows in their sect was to never touch a member of the opposite sex. When they came to a stream, they found a young maid who was stranded, unable to cross the river. She was desperate to reach the other side. Feeling compassion, the master picked up the woman and carried her to other side. He then traveled on with his student, but in silence, because his companion had turned sullen and withdrawn. After several miles, the student was unable to hold back his anger. “How could you do that?” he blurted out without disguising his disapproval and anxiety. “Haven’t you always taught me never to touch a woman? And now, without a thought, you do the very thing you taught me is wrong. Surely you have sinned.” The master remained calm and serene. “I left the woman on the bank of the river,” he replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”