Monday, March 22, 2010

Being Free of the Opinion of Others

I read this excerpt from Alan Jones's Soul Making in my lenten readings this week and thought it was a gem:

A desert father was asked for a word of wisdom by one of his disciples. “Go to the cemetery and curse the dead,” said the old man. The disciple went off and stood among the graves and shouted: “You cowardly, sinful brood! The stench of your sins is an offense to Heaven, I curse you with all the power at my command. May you never see the light!” The young man went back to his master and told him that he and completed the task. “Did the dead say anything to you?” the old man asked. “Not a word!” answered the disciple. “Now go to the cemetery and praise the dead.” The young man ran off, stood among the graves, and began a great eulogy: “You are greater than the apostles. Your good deeds rise up to Heaven like the incense. You inspire those you have left behind to great deeds. Such is your power, you glorious saints!” The young man hurried back to his master’s cell. “Well,” said the old man, “how was it this time? Did the dead have anything to say?” The disciple answered, “They were as silent as before.” After a period of silence, the old man said, “That is how you have to be—like the dead; beyond cursing and praise, unaffected by the opinions of others.”

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