12. Teaching him a lesson?

Six years after the Second World War was over, the legacy of the war remained in the form of the poverty and difficulties caused by the shortages of food and materials that affected every home. In particular, there was a great shortage of cloth. If a monk or novice had even one complete set of robes, he was fortunate.

I was one of a large number of novices living with Luang Pu. One day Novice Phrom, another one of Luang Pu’s nephews, saw Novice Chumpon wearing a beautiful new robe, so he asked him, “Where did you get that robe?” Novice Chumpon told him, “I was taking my turn attending to Luang Pu. He saw that my robe was torn, so he gave me a new one.”

When it came Novice Phrom’s turn to give Luang Pu a foot massage, he wore a torn robe, with the idea that he’d get a new robe, too. When he had finished his duties and was leaving, Luang Pu noticed the tear in the robe and was struck with pity for his nephew. So he got up, opened a cabinet, and handed his nephew something, saying,

“Here. Sew that up. Don’t go around wearing a robe all torn like that.”

Disappointed, Novice Phrom had to quickly accept the needle and thread from Luang Pu’s hand.