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You Become What You Do

Dr Alex Tang

 

“Brother senior disciple Ah Meng is so pious that he will be made Abba soon,” observed Ah Lek as he continued to knead the dough that will be made into mooncakes. Every year, the Sow Lin Monastery will make mooncakes which the monks will distribute to the poor in the surrounding villages. The mooncakes are eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn or “mooncake” festival held in the middle of the eighth month of lunar Chinese calendar.

“He prays so fervently that his pew will shake and so much tears flow down his face that he wets his Psalter. He has memorised large chunk of the Bible too. And he is Abba Ah Beng’s favourite.”

“I don’t like him,” said Ah Kow as a put a piece of dough into his mouth. “Yuk,” he said as he spit it out. “Senior disciple is always picking on others looking for faults. He likes to point out my mistakes and keep always insisting that I spend time confessing them.”

“You are right. Just this morning he hit me on the head during morning prayers. Who does he think he is?” complained Ah Lek.

“You were falling asleep.”

“Was not”

“Yes you were. I heard you snore.”

“The other day-ah he told Abba Ah Beng that my cell was dirty,” said Ah Lek, changing the subject. “That tell-tales. Abba Ah Beng made me scrub my cell and his too.”

“The young disciples are very undisciplined and not fit to be in this monastery,” Ah Meng pointed out to Abba Ah Beng during his time of spiritual direction. “They don’t know how to pray, how to read the Bible properly, how to be forgiving and how to help others. I want to help them so much. I want them to be holy. I want them to good disciples. I want them to give up their selfish desires and bad habits. In fact, I feel so strong about it that I cannot sleep at night.”

“Yes, I have been hearing stories from the young disciples about you. It is good that you are so concerned about their spiritual formation. However be careful in your zeal, that you do not cross the line to become the opposite of what you are fighting. Let me tell you a story,” said Abba Ah Beng.

“Once upon a time, during the time of the Crusades there was a young strong white knight who was very pious and very devoted to God. He made it his personal quest to kill all black knights. The black knights were unholy and impure. Throughout his long life this white knight killed many black knights. One day when he was old, he met a young white knight on the road. To his surprised he was immediately attacked by this white knight. He fought valiantly but was unable to overcome this young man. Throughout the fight, the question lingers at the back of his mind, ‘Why is this white knight attacking me?’ Just before he was killed, he caught a reflection of himself in the shining shield of his opponent. The knight reflected in the shield was black.”

 

|posted 12 September 2008|

               

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