A man once dreamed of passing into the world beyond. An angel met him and showed him a great golden book. "What is that?" he inquired. "It is the book of your life," was the reply. Looking closer he saw that there were some writing on the first page. "What is there?"

The angel said, "These are your evil acts, and you see that they are many." The angel turned the page, and the man saw that the next sheet was more closely written. The angel said, "These are your evil words, and you see that there are more of them than there are acts." The poet trembled.

The next page was more closely written. "What are these?" asked the man. "These are your evil thoughts, and you see that there are many, for a man thinks more than he speaks or acts."

With the trembling voice, the man asked what the fourth page contained. The angel turned it over, and lo! it was black as midnight. The angel said, "This represents your evil heart, for it is out if the blackness of the heart that all thoughts and words and acts come."

The Chinese say, "Moving rivers and mountains is easy, changing a person’s nature is difficult" and "You can draw a tiger’s skin but not the bones; you can know a person’s mouth and face, but not his heart."

(From a sermon by Victor Yap, "How Low Can You Go?" 1/24/2009)