Chapter 29: Faith
The king was shocked. One expects from a saint that he has renounced the world, he cannot come back to the world - and the saint would have risen in honor and respect in his eyes. But the man said, “This is a perfect idea! I can just go with you right now. I don’t have anything to carry with me, no arrangements have to be made.”
The king was in doubt - perhaps he has been befooled. Perhaps this man is not a saint; he has only been pretending and must have been waiting for this moment. But now it was very difficult to take the invitation back. So sadly, reluctantly, he had to take the man whom he had desired so much, loved so much, his company, his presence, his eyes, his every gesture.He gave him the best palace where his guests, other kings and emperors, used to stay.
He was hoping that the saint would say, “No, I don’t need these golden beds and marble palaces. I am a naked monk, more in tune with the trees, with the wind, with the cold, with the heat.” But instead of this, the man became very interested. He said, “Great! This is the right place!”
The king could not sleep the whole night, although the monk slept the whole night perfectly well in those luxurious surroundings. From that morning the monk’s respectability in the mind of the king went down every day, because he was eating luxurious food, he was no longer naked, he was using the costliest robes. He was not worried about women - the most beautiful women were serving him and he was quite at ease, as if nothing had happened. He looked just the same as he did naked under the tree.
But it was too much; it was becoming a wound in the king’s heart that he had really been befooled, cheated. Now, how to get rid of this man? He is not a saint.. One day he asked him, “I have been carrying a question in my mind for many, many days, but have not been courageous enough to ask.”
The man said, “I know - not many, many days, but from the very moment when I accepted your invitation.”
The king was again shocked. He said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “I could see that very moment the change in your face, in your eyes. If I had rejected your offer, you would have respected me, touched my feet. But I don’t reject anything. My acceptance is total. If you are inviting me, it is perfectly good. When I said the palace is right, it is not the palace that is right, I am right wherever I am. I was right under the tree naked; I am right under these royal robes, surrounded by beautiful women, all the luxuries. Naturally I know you must be very puzzled. You look tired, you look sad, you don’t look your old self. You can ask me the question, although I know the question.”
The king said, “If you know the question, then the question now is that I want to know what is the difference between me and you?”
The young man laughed and he said, “I will answer, but not here because you will not understand it. We will go for a morning walk, and at the right place, at the right moment, I will answer.”