The King of a small state in the south of India used to meditate every day on himself as a servant of God. He limited the satisfaction of his desires to what he thought appropriate to a servant, and practised a servant’s simplicity of life. After some years, this practice produced in him extraordinary energy and clear-sightedness; his kingdom was a success internally, and the neighbouring kings soon found it did not pay to venture to extend their territory.
The king’s spiritual adviser (though not his Teacher) was one of his ministers, to whom the king owed, and knew that he owed, a good deal of his success. This minister was an advanced practicant of meditation.
One day the king learned, by chance, that the minister’s own form of meditation was on the self as infinite shining space. He told the minister that he would like to go on to this higher form of meditation, but the minister advised him against it. “It would not accord with your present role,” he told him. The king was a little put out, and retorted, “If you can say this and meditate on it, I can do so too. Why shouldn’t IT’
The minister said, “You can say it, of course. But it will not have any effect unless the one who says it is qualified for it.” “What has qualification to do with it?” cried the king. “The words are bound to have their effect.”
The minister beckoned to the king’s bodyguard, who stood on the far side of the room. The man came running up and stood at attention.
“Slap his face!” said the minister in a firm voice. The bodyguard’s jaw dropped in astonishment.
“You heard me, didn’t you? Slap his face!” ordered the minister sharply.
The bodyguard closed his mouth firmly and stood motionless, his eyes fixed on the king.
The minister turned to the king: “You say it.”
“Slap his face,” said the king in a low voice. Instantly the bodyguard’s hand landed in a loud smack on the minister’s cheek. The king waved him away-“Not so hard, not so hard.” After a little silence, the minister said quietly, “You see?
We spoke the same words, but you were qualified, and I was not. So the words you spoke were effective. But what I said would not have been effective, even if I had repeated them a thousand times, because I did not have the qualification to say them. It’s the same with spiritual truths.”
A man used to complain to his Teacher that he couldn’t meditate. “I can’t hold my thought on it for long-I start thinking what we will be having for breakfast, or some argument we’ve had in the family, or whether I shall be transferred at work.”
One day the Teacher suddenly blazed up and shouted, “I’m the fool, to have taken on a fool like you at all! I’m going to finish with you-why should I go on? Come back tomorrow, and unless you can give me one good reason why I should still see you, you can take your things and go.”
The pupil tried to stammer an apology but the Teacher cut him short and physically pushed him out.
That night he could not sleep: he was wondering what he could do to get the Teacher to keep him on. Next day he brought a present for him, and timidly gave it to the attendant, who then announced his name.
The Teacher came out quickly and said, “Come in and sit down. How have you been?”
He answered, “I could not sleep for thinking how I could appeal to you please keep me on. I can’t give any reason, but please keep me as your pupil.”
“You couldn’t sleep for thinking about it? That’s good. That’s what you needed,” the Teacher told him. “When you have trouble with your mind, think back to that, and meditate with the same earnestness. You’ve learnt what it means to meditate.”