The Story of Lam Chung
Narrator / Buddha
Lam Chung is sitting as a desk looking bored. The rest of the cast sit at the front of the audience.
Once upon a time there was a boy called Lam Chung who hated school. He found it difficult to remember anything. He was probably dyslexic, but nobody cared.
Tell me, Lam Chung, what did Shakespeare mean when he said ‘All the world’s a stage?
I couldn’t even finish Harry Potter, how am I supposed to know what Shakespeare was talking about?!
You stupid boy!
Rest of cast:
Stupid! You idiot! Etc
Lam Chung failed his exams, and when he left school he didn’t know what to do. His brother was a Buddhist monk, so Lam Chung decided to go and live with him.
Lam Chung gets up from desk and mimes knocking on a door. Lam Chen opens it.
Hey little brother! What are you doing here?
I’ve got nowhere else to go.
Well, you can’t just move into a Buddhist Centre without being involved with the community, you know. You have to be on lots of rotas and study programmes.
Lam Chung looks terrified
OK, tell you what: I’ll just give you one little thing from Buddha’s teachings, and if you learn that you can stay, alright? May everyone be happy; may everyone be free from suffering. That’s it: you got that?
Yes, that’s great, I can do that! Err…. Can you write that down for me so I can practice?
Lam Chen hands him a piece of paper and sits down. Lam Chung sits at desk.
Ok, I can do this! May… everyone.. be… happy. [closes eyes] May everyone be…? Arrgh!
Lam Chung studied hard, but it just wouldn’t stick.
Lam Chung bangs his head on the desk
[calling from audience] it’s been two days already. Have you got it yet?
He thought maybe if he practiced outside the fresh air might help him think, so he went and sat in the farmer’s field with the sheep.
Farmer stands downstage with the rest of cast behind him as sheep
May everyone feel crappy? May everyone be free from happiness?
Come on, son, it’s not that hard! You’ve read it out so many times that I’ve learnt it by now.
Rest of cast:
[imitating sheep] may everyone baaaaaaaaaaaa happy!
See, even the sheep know it better than you!
Lam Chung sits back at desk looking miserable. Rest of cast except Lam Chen return to their places.
Do you know the verse now, little brother?
No. I’m too thick; I’ll never learn it.
Well then, you can’t stay here. Go home to mum and dad and they can think of something else to do with you!
Lam Chung, trying not to cry, begins to walk off stage. The narrator as Buddha intercepts him.
Hey, what’s wrong? Why are you leaving?
Because I am so stupid I can’t memorize even one verse of scripture. Now even my own brother has given up on me.
Oh, don’t worry about you brother; my name’s Buddha Shakyamuni, and I’m in charge round here, not him! You don’t have to leave. Buddhism isn’t just about learning things out of books, there is something for everyone. I’ll give you a job that you’ll be good at, and you are welcome to stay. You can be in charge of cleaning the meditation room, and when you clean just imagine that you are cleaning all the bad thoughts out of your mind. OK?
That’s wonderful! Thank you, Buddha… what was your name again?
Narrator laughs and returns upstage. Lam Chung collects a hoover and begins hoovering stage right, humming happily.
Perfect! My mind feels cleaner already. Now the other side!
[moves to stage left and hoovers, then looks to the right]
Oh! I swear it was clean a minute ago, but it needs hoovering again now. How wonderful! I love my new job.
For years, Lam Chung was happy to keep cleaning the meditation room, and as he did this his mind became freed from all negative thoughts. He never ran out of things to do, because whenever he finished vacuuming one side of the room, Buddha would magically empty the dirt back out onto the other side! But Lam Chung never got upset, because he knew that it was helping him to be happier and happier.
[Lam Chung continues to hoover one side, then the other.]
Phew! I’ve been doing this a long time. I wonder where all this dust keeps appearing from? Oh! I understand now! It’s all just coming from my mind! When my mind is dirty, the world appears to be dirty too.
[He sits on the throne and meditates]
[comes downstage as Buddha] Well done Lam Chung. I think it’s about time you gave a teaching to show everyone what you have learnt. Come on everybody, come and listen to Lam Chung!
You can’t be serious! My brother’s an idiot. He’s done nothing but clean for years, what can he possibly teach us?!
[the cast sits around the throne]
I will now give a teaching on one verse of Dharma. It’s the verse that previously I couldn’t learn, even after months of trying: may everyone be happy, may everyone be free from suffering.
The teaching lasted for three days, and Lam Chung never ran out of things to say, because he now understood all of Buddha’s teachings. All of the people listening were amazed and became very peaceful and happy.
[cast prostrates to Lam Chung]