Once there was a king who was righteous and benevolent. Renowned for his wisdom, he was kind to his subjects. Years passed and he began to feel empty inside. Seeking a meaning to life, he sought the counsel of his minister whether he could abdicate in favour of his son.
THE VOICE WITHIN
“The prince is only 15 years old, your Majesty. The law says he must be 18 years old before he may be crowned king,” the minister demurred.
But the king would not be deterred. He was unwilling to wait three more years before his son was old enough to assume the responsibility of a ruler. After thinking the matter over, he made an announcement across his kingdom.
“I have decided to go on a spiritual journey. My son, the crown prince, will assume royal duties when he turns 18. Until that time, our revered minister will serve as regent to guide my son and look after you all,” he declared.
The crown prince, the minister and other royal officials, as well as the people asked why the king was in such a hurry to renounce worldly life when he was still young. For them all, the king had but one answer: “Some thrones belong to the Earth. I am looking for a throne that is beyond this realm.”
After ceremonial change of guard, the king set off alone into the deep forest. The people were left despondent, for he had truly been a father to them, wielding his great powers with great responsibility all those years.
When the crown prince turned 18, he duly ascended the throne. He soon showed himself to be a chip off the old block, a good and just king already wise beyond his years. But he kept wondering what had befallen his father. One day, he resolved to set out on a voyage to find out. The minister, courtiers and many people accompanied him, for they were all eager to see their beloved old king once more.
After an arduous trek for several months over rugged, densely forested mountains, the cavalcade came to a hermitage. A disciple welcomed them, but made it clear they would all have to wait their turn to meet the holy man. “Many kings from faraway lands come to see him. So must you, even if you are his former subjects and have travelled over many moons,” he said.
Filly, after some weeks were past, they could meet the holy man and pay their respects. Everyone was happy. But the minister asked: “Your Majesty, your life in this hermitage looks very similar to the one you led in your palace once. You are sitting here, everyone around is seeking your guidance, just like our people used to do when you were their king. It’s like a kingdom here! What is the difference between this and the throne you left behind?”
The holy man reflected awhile, smiled with deep satisfaction and replied: “The difference is that before I had my subjects all around me, but here, all around me are my fellow lovers of God. We all rule over each other’s hearts, and are blessed thereby”.
The new king heard out his father with rapt attention, understanding once more that it is never a matter of just ruling over people. The worst leaders make people fear and obey them. The best ones are loved, they are followed because they see the light within others and help reveal it.
— the harbinger