A keen member of a sangha was always bringing extra furniture for the comfort of the sangha members, and in many other ways trying to make the place and its garden more beautiful and artistic.
A senior member finally dropped a hint that this was not necessary, and was indeed undesirable.
“But I am doing this so that our members should have as nearly perfect conditions for their practise as possible,” protested the member. “Surely that can’t be wrong?”
“Perfect external conditions are not attainable,” said the senior, “and even if they were, external conditions would do little to improve the internal conditions, which is the main point of our training.”
“Then are we simply to let the place get dirty and leaky and the garden overgrown?”
“The tradition does not say that,” rejoined the other. “There is a minimum necessary, or at any rate, almost necessary. We should be very careful how to pile on so-called necessities beyond that. There is a saying which runs like this:
One bowl of rice and a vegetable each day is necessary;
Two is better;
Three is luxury;
Four makes him ill;
Five kills him.