Test Not in Lotus Lake

Test Not

In a country where several religions were practised, including Christianity and Buddhism, a spiritual group existed which taught methods of mind-control and meditation without restrictions of belief. Believers found their own faith intensified by the practises, and were not asked to convert to a new faith.
They began to prosper, and undertook small charitable works where they saw a need. But these were to be occasions for practise of universality and serenity, not ends in themselves.
They were near a small school. Some of the children came from a distance on bicycles, which they had nowhere to put against the rain. It was proposed that the group offer to provide a little shed for them. The school, short of funds, gladly accepted. Two of the Outer Activities Committee, one a Buddhist and one a Christian, were appointed to see it done.
There was an elderly professional carpenter in the group, but he was not much liked by some because of his directness. Moreover, as he usually spoke only what he knew, he was often annoyingly right. So the Committee members asked two absolutely inexperienced members to do the job. This caused some surprise, and to justify their decision they said to a senior, “It is essential, don’t you think?, that younger members get experience in this sort of do-it-yourself job. Of course we do have a carpenter, but that’s no reason why he should automatically be called in. If he thought he was indispensable, it might lead to egoism. To have to stand down sometimes is a good test for him.”
“This is going to affect others,” replied the senior, “namely the children of the school. Our young people can get experience on things that don’t affect the world outside.”
“Ah, but then they would not feel responsible. They’d know it didn’t really matter, and might be tempted to do it carelessly. It wouldn’t be real experience.”
“We are supposed to be training here to do things properly, once we have taken them on. Well, think it over. Because the same divine nature is in all of us, it doesn’t follow that all of us express it equally well through shed-building. Still, you’ve been appointed, and you must make the decision.”
The Committee members discussed it, but did not change their mind, and the two young ones began to build the shed. They had been told not to consult anyone, but simply to do their best. This they did, but soon the little shed began to leak, and then to tilt dangerously. The children stopped using it. The carpenter went to the school and offered to build a new one, free of charge. He made it firm and beautiful, which was criticized by some as egoistic self-display, though others thought it was just professional skill. The children used it from then on.
Soon afterwards, the original shed collapsed. That day there was a tacit agreement not to mention the embarrassing fact. Very early next morning the two Committee members got a cart and went quietly to take away the ruins, hoping to escape notice. On the way back, however, they encountered the senior sweeping the steps of their own centre.
The Buddhist said, with elaborate calm, “Everything changes. The Buddha-nature is change, and change should be welcome.”
The senior straightened up and looked across toward the new shed, bright in the early sun: “Welcome indeed.”
The Buddhist reddened, and looked away.
“All that happens is the will of God,” added the Christian defiantly. “It must be the will of God, or it couldn’t happen. Let His will be done—it’s all in the Bible.”
“Yes, the Bible covers everything, doesn’t it. Or nearly everything.”
They could not be sure, but as they moved off they thought they heard a muttered, “Test not, lest ye be tested.

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