Saturday, September 30, 2006

monastery story & sunscreen essay

I am writing today about 2 things I heard at Dorits lecture. She told this story.. not exactly the same, but close, she didn’t mention rats or cockroaches..

A man entered the monastery, and the abbot said to him, "This is our rule in the monastery: you can speak only once in seven years."

He accepted it, and he was shown the cell where he was to live. He thought, "My God!" The glass of the window was broken, and the cell was a very small cell, just enough to lie down in.

Rains came, and the water would come inside. He was suffering from cold, sneezing, and all his clothes were wet, but he could not speak. So for seven years he suffered the rain. The rain destroyed the mattress, and it destroyed his health also.

But after seven years he ran to the abbot, and he said, "You have given me a cell which has no glass in the window. I have suffered too much from the rain."

The abbot said, "Enough! Glass will be put in. Just go back, and for seven years, no more speaking."

New glass was put in, but when he went back to the cell, then he remembered that the mattress was completely rotten. But now, seven years ... So he waited for seven years with that rotten mattress, with all kinds of cockroaches and rats. But seven years passed. They were too long, longer than seven years used to be! It was almost an eternity.

After seven years he went running to the abbot, and he said, "You put in the glass, but I forgot to tell you at that time that the mattress was rotten, and cockroaches and rats and all kinds of animals are moving inside the cell. Please move that rotten mattress, and remove all the cockroaches and rats."

The abbot said, "It shall be done -- but no more coming here for seven years!"

So the mattress was removed, the cockroaches were removed, the rats were removed, but the people who brought the new mattress ... It was too big, so they forced it and broke the glass!

Again the same story began, the rains started coming, and from the broken window the rats which had gone out, the cockroaches -- they all came back, the whole family.

Now it was too much. He could not believe that he would survive seven years, but he survived. Man has immense capacity to adapt to any conditions.

After seven years, as he approached the abbot, the abbot said, "Don't speak a single word. Since you have come into this monastery, complaints, complaints, complaints! I never hear anything else. Just get out of the monastery."

The man could not say even what he had come to say. He had been thrown out of the monastery. After twenty-one years, this was the only result.

- Was this man thinking about God or Buddah or enlightenment at all for the 21 years? No. He was thinking only of what he was lacking. If you set your mind on what you don’t have you will get more of that. If you think about your blessings and are grateful and thankful you will attract more blessings and things to be thankful for.

& I think she also recited some of the lyrics from the Sunscreen essay, actually called Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen) written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997.
The most popular and well-known form of the essay is the successful music single released in 1999, accredited to Baz Luhrmann.

& I really like the words, although I don’t agree with the sunscreen part.. to a large degree.. it blocks the sun and the sun is healthy, in moderation.. and especially if you have a clean diet ad body. (It’s the toxins in the skin which get burned and start skin cancer.) I just don’t like putting sunscreen on my skin, it has all those chemicals in it and skin just absorbs all this stuff and brings it into the body.. but back to the lyrics.. These get me all emotional though.. memories, it was played at Dylan’s grade 8 graduation and after 8-10 years of all these kids being together at Blantyre, they were separating and going separate ways to high school.. and they had this real tear-jerker slide show presentation to go along with it. Anyway, there’s some great parts in here, enjoy : )

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary.

Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Pic from

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