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The Unfortunate
- Stories Told by a Young Chinese Monk (5)

9 December 2007
 

No Fool (戒痴) is a young novice, only 11 year-old, younger than the age when I first came to the monastery 10 years ago in 1997. He’s quite a mischievous boy to be honest, and my master often says he’s more like a monkey like a monk.

Our Bright Sky Temple is not well known to the outside world and doesn’t attract many incense bearers, but still we have visitors from all over the country and even from overseas. Among the visitors, there is a women called Mrs Li who comes to burn incense and donates money every year, and complains to my master about her life in particular and in general. Her husband is a government official in a big city and, according to her, often receives anonymous letters accusing him of taking bribery and being corrupt. She is worried to death that one day the misfortune may fall upon her family.

Once Mrs Li came to visit us again, and like what she did previously, stayed for a few days in our visitor lodge in the outer quarter of the monastery.

One morning she spotted No Fool in a hall and later enquired my master who was that unfortunate little novice.

My master was baffled and asked her why she thought No Fool was unfortunate.

“Look at him, in such torn-ragged clothing,” replied Mrs Li.

It is not that the monastery is so poor that it can’t afford decent clothes for the young novices. The truth is No Fool is so restless and keeps running around carelessly, soon after he puts on a new robe he would magically transform it into dirty rags in no time.

But since Mrs Li noticed that, we thought it isn’t a nice thing to have a little novice running around the temple in rags, so that afternoon, I went to help the boy to change his clothes.

“Who is that unfortunate lady?” When putting on a new robe, No Fool enquired.

I was baffled and asked him why he thought Mrs Li was unfortunate. She wears fashionable and expensive clothes, and for Heaven’s sake, her necklace alone would have more gold in it than that in our biggest gold painted Buddha statue.

“Look at her, always knit her brows,” replied No Fool.

It seems feeling fortunate or unfortunate mainly depends on what you look at: the clothes and the necklace, or the brows.

Pre: Labels on Fruits
Next: A Fake Shoe Seller

 
 
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(Original photos by 长安盛世)

 

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