Tales : Making Monks

There was once upon a time a small community of monks that lived in the mountains under the guidance of a venerable abbot. The abbot had taught the monks to make a certain herbal extract that was popularly believed to be next to miraculous in its powers to cure every illness, and the monks spent most of their time in gathering the herbs on the steep slopes and preparing the extract in many slow and painstaking steps. The little time that remained to them they spent in meditation and prayer.

Occasionally visitors came to stay with the brothers for a while, and once it happened that a man who was very experienced in the ways of the world came for a visit. This man watched carefully all that the brothers did, and after a week or two, he came to the abbot, and respectfully laid a piece of paper before him.

“What is this?” the abbot asked.

“Father,” said the man, “this is a plan to simplify the making of the herbal extract. I have been studying the brothers carefully, and I believe that if you follow my suggestions, they will be able to produce more extract – of the same quality – in a shorter time, and that would leave them with more time to meditate and pray.”

The abbot politely slid the paper back toward the visitor. “Thank you,”he said, “but we will not adopt your ideas.”

The visitor was very surprised. “Why not, father?” he asked. “I assure you, it would make their life easier.”

“No doubt it would,” the abbot replied. “But my goal is not to make their life easier. It is to make them monks.”

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