An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore how attitude of mind is key to overcoming our fears and achieving our aims.
Preparation and materials
- Note: It is very important that this assembly is not turned into secular moralizing about always having to work hard to get good results. That misses the point, which is, it is in the mind where issues of fear, uncertainty, risk, trust and so on have to be resolved. People who are able to resolve these issues are at peace with themselves and those around them.
- The dialogue in the assembly is best acted, but could also be presented as a narrative. You will need a leader and four to five students if you do the former. The voice of the narrator is important and rehearsing beforehand is necessary.
Narrator Once upon a time, there was a man/woman who lived near a cemetery. One night on the way home from the pub, he/she seemed to hear a voice calling to her/him from inside one of the tombs . . .
Voice Helloooo! Helloooo! Helloooo! Helloooo!
Man/woman I'm not staying here to be frightened to death . . .
Narrator So he/she ran home, locked all his/her doors and windows and hid under the duvet.
The next morning he/she plucked up the courage to tell a friend who came round what had happened.
Friend This is a very grave situation! You've been dead unlucky, but don't worry, I'll go to the cemetery tonight and see if I can hear this voice. What time shall we meet?
Man/woman We?! I'm not coming with you. I shall be locked in here all evening. What will you do if it starts up again?
Friend Give it a maths lesson. That should be enough to frighten anything away!
Narrator So, when night came, the friend went on his/her own to the cemetery to see if he/she could hear anything.
Voice Helloooo! Helloooo! Helloooo! Helloooo!
Friend (Calmly.) Chill out! Oh, I suppose you've already done that in the mortuary. Who are you and what do you want?
Voice I am the voice of hidden treasure and I have decided to give myself away. I tried to make myself known last night to some passing coward who didn't stay to ask me anything – he/she just ran off. So, as he/she didn't want to talk to me, I'll come round to your place in the morning with my seven friends. You will get the treasure.
Friend Tell me what to do. How to prepare. How to receive you.
Voice It will happen tomorrow morning. There will be eight of us, counting me. We will come in Buddhist monks' robes. Please have a clean room ready and eight bowls of rice-porridge.
Narrator Next morning, it happened exactly as the friend had been told. After each monk had eaten his bowl of porridge, the friend took him into the clean room and there he changed into a large pot of gold.
There was a third person who lived next door. He/she was greedy. He/she saw all this and thought he/she would invite the eight monks to his/her house. He/she also gave them a meal and showed them into a clean room, but, when they entered it, they changed into angry protesters and made such a disturbance and noise that the police came and arrested the greedy person, as the uproar had happened in his/her house. By now, the timid person who had heard the voice in the first place had heard about all this as well. He/she went round to his/her friend's house.
Man/woman I told you about the voice that made you rich. Now I demand the money. The voice spoke to me first. It is my money. I want it all. You have no right to any of it.
This next section is optional.
Narrator/leader In twos or threes, discuss what you think the friend should do. Give him/her all of it? Some of it? None of it?
Allow a couple of minutes and reporting back at the leader's discretion.
Narrator The timid person was now so angry that he/she took no notice of his/her friend's answer and burst into his/her room, intending to take the large pots of gold away one by one. Each time he/she lifted the lid off one of the pots, however, he/she found that the pot was full of writhing, poisonous snakes, raising their heads to attack him/her.
Time for reflection
The king eventually heard all about the voice in the cemetery and the eight pots of gold and he ruled that the friend should keep the whole lot. He spoke these wise words.
King This is just what the world is like. Foolish people are always greedy, wanting good results without any real effort, but they're too scared to really go for them, so they're always failing. The real struggle in this case was not in the cemetery or in somebody's house, but in the mind. The people had to face questions in their minds. What is that voice? What am I going to do about it? People need faith and courage to face the struggles of the mind, but by this means alone can true peace and harmony be found.