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So way up in the mountains there was this very strict monastery. The monks would wake up at 3:00 AM every day, 365 days a year. They would begin each day with prayers and meditation, then do some chores -- chopping firewood, bringing the wood in, start the fires, cook and clean the kitchen and the floors -- then have breakfast of porridge and bread, plus any fruits or vegetables they had grown in their own gardens.
After breakfast it was time for more prayers, songs, meditation. Then there was more serious work outside and in: tending the fields and orchards and vineyards. Building and repairing chairs and other furniture. Tending to the fish nurseries, etc. The monks would continue this kind of schedule all day and into the evening, until it was supper time, after which it was more prayer, meditation, and study. Sleep came early, at about 9:00 PM.
On top of all this, the monks were sworn to silence, could not speak at any time, ... except once every ten years they were allowed to greet the abbot and say two words. That was it: two words to the abbot every ten years.
One new monk, Michael, had struggled in the beginning, but found that he could live this kind of life, and even discovered some healthful benefits of the clean spartan living.
After ten years had passed the new monk went to visit the abbot for his first words spoken in an entire decade, his first TWO words in ten full years. He walked into the abbot's chambers, stood in front of the abbot, and when the abbot asked, "Well, brother Michael, do you have anything to say? If so, please say it in TWO words."
Brother Michael stood nervously in front of the abbot, cleared his throat, then said in a slightly cracking voice, "Bed hard."
The abbot raised his eyebrow a bit, then said, "I see, brother Michael. Thank you for your observation. You may go now."
Another ten years passed, and again Brother Michael went to visit the abbot to offer his next TWO words for the new decade. The abbot said, "Well, good to see you again, Brother Michael. Do you have something to say this time? Please say it in no more than TWO words."
Brother Michael again cleared his throat, then said in a loud, even booming voice: "Food cold."
The abbot seemed genuinely stunned by this statement from a man who had seemed most adapted to the monastic life.
Another ten years passed, and again Michael went to see the abbot. This time he walked in to the abbot's chambers and stood in front of the abbot who asked, "Good to see you again for your once in a decade chance to speak, Brother Michael. Would you care to say something this time? Remember, in TWO words, as we must always show our humility before Heaven and earth."
Brother Michael leaned forward and got close to the abbot's face, then said, "I quit!"
The abbot looked back into Michael's face and said, "Well, it's no wonder. All you've ever done since you got here is complain."
"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing."
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