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A Film Director
- Stories Told by a Young Chinese Monk (18)

17 February 2008
 

Chinese New Year Festival had always been a busy season in our monastery, as we needed to receive a larger number of incense bearers praying for the happiness and health of their family members.

Those most earnest prayers would arrive at the temple on the early hours of the New Year's Day waiting to burn the first incense of the year, for it is believed that the activities on that very first day would set the trend for the following seasons.

But this year things are not quite the same as those in the past. Prior to the festival season, Master Wisdom Follower tried hard to persuade people not to come to the temple as the biggest snowstorm in half a century had made the mountain trails dangerous paths to negotiate.

On the Chinese New Year’s Eve, we in the monastery could hear the jubilant sound of firecrackers from the Watery Town down the hill; when I stepped outside the temple gate, I could see fireworks illuminating the skies. It wasn't difficult for me to mentally picture the splendid smiles of the folks in the surrounding towns while they watched the spectacular fire shows.

At last the bliss has descended upon the land after the natural disaster.

Soon the snow on the main mountain trials melted away in the sun. By the fifth day of the New Year, incense bearers appeared in the temple, most were regular visitors, and among them there was a film director.

No Dust and No Fool were excited to see the director come as he traveled wide and had many fascinating stories to tell. That day he sat outside the praying hall with us while waiting for his turn to burn incense. And in the middle of his story-telling, he made a passing comment on his own appearance. “Since I've visited so many Buddhist temples in recent years, my colleagues all say I become look just like a Buddha,” said he conceitedly.

“I thought the same thing,” No Fool readily agreed, which greatly pleased the film director who praised the little boy for having exhibited an exceptional insight and wisdom.

But No Fool promptly pointed at the uncovered round belly of the laughing Buddha to clarify his point of view. “Your tummy is more like his,” said the naughty novice and quickly ran away.

Everyone laughed, while the director blushed, he also laughed, trying to retaliate against the boy but without success.

Before long, it was his turn to burn the incense. The director went into the hall, knelt before the Buddha statues and said his prayer out loud. He pled for blessing of the enlightened ones to his career, his finance, his family, his relatives, his friends, his colleagues, and so on and so forth. And finally he added one more plea, “With regard to that Old Liu, you may don’t need to bless him too much.”

When we had lunch together, I asked him who was Old Liu and why he appeared to dislike him so strongly.

“Oh, he’s my colleague,” returned the film director. “He’s all right, just always tries to do things differently, that drives me nuts.” Master Wisdom Follower overheard our conversation and grinned, but said nothing.

Later that day, after most incense bearers left the temple, Master Wisdom Follower approached the director with a coin in his hand and asked, “Would you like to play a game?” He then spined the coin on the table, after a shortly while, he pressed the coin with his hand, and asked the director to guess which side was up: face or tail. The guessing game was repeated seven times. The director did his best, but he only managed to get the right answer three times out of seven. He was overwhelmingly not impressed with his own performance.

The monk laughed and said, “It seems if Old Liu were here today and did things differently from you each time, he would be right four times out of seven.”

(You can visit Monk No Anger's personal blog to read his original posts in Chinese at "http://user.qzone.qq.com/787129669/blog/1203036391")

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