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A Terrifying Night

29 December 2007

Not many people like to settle in the middle of the Hatch Hill, thus the mountain trails are narrow and steep, and at night the lights are few and far in between. Unlike the brilliant evening in Watery Town, night around our temple is pitch black - after sunset, we seldom venture out the monastery.

But there are exceptions. When some of our guests staying in our outer quarter lodge wish to have spring water to brew their evening tea, my master would order me to fetch the water at the peak. Once I went to the upper stream again at night, and No Dust and No Fool pestered the master to let them go with me. No Talk was equally keen, but he didn’t bother to talk around to get a permission; he simply following us into the darkness. Only after a while, we realised that we had an extra company trailing behind.

I carried a small lantern with an electrical bulb inside. In the shadow of darkness, there were tiny dots of lights from fireflies darting forth and back; and around the lantern, moths danced in circles. Beyond, all was dead quiet, and faint fragrance of wild blossoms could be detected. The scent existed even during the daytime, but by then we were overwhelmed by visual sights that we neglected other forms of existence.

Then out of nowhere came an eerie sound of shouting, and that frightened No Dust a great deal. “What’s that, Big Brother!”

I couldn’t answer for I did not know.

“Can it be from a tiger?” he asked again.

I had no idea, but I never heard that there were tigers haunting the woods in this mountain.

No Dust was terrified and gripped my hand tight. His soft little hand was all wet. “What if tiger comes? What should we do then?” He pounded me with anxious questions.

“If that happens, we have No Talk to protect us,” that was all I could say.

But my reply didn’t seem to give the little boy much assurance, and he kept interrogating me about whether and how a vegetarian pet could overpower a blood-thirsty beast.

I thought about his questions long and hard, yet failed to find a rational explanation to convince him that No Talk could work wonders and we were truly safe. But soon we all safely returned to the monastery.

No Dust however was still haunted by the result of a possible bloody battle between a tiger and a dog, and went to our master for an answer.

My master grinned. “Well,” he said, “It’s indeed a good way to squander your time by imagining a fight and speculating its outcome that could hardly ever happen, I mean if you really have nothing else to do in your life.”

(You can visit Monk No Anger's personal blog to read his original posts in Chinese at "")

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