Years passed. He even forgot that once he used to be a prince. Years of begging – how can you remember? Remembrance needs a certain climate. Now being a beggar and remembering that once you were a prince does not suit. The climate of the world of the beggar is not supportive to the remembrance; he completely forgot about it.
And there was no point in remembering; it was an unnecessary torture. You have to sleep on the street, you have to eat things that you never imagined that you would have to eat, you have to wear rags. You don’t have even a shelter. Just to survive was so difficult that even if he had remembered that once he was a prince, he himself would have thought, “I must be hallucinating. I cannot be a prince, it must be a dream. I must have dreamed, imagined; otherwise what happened?” Because he had not committed any crime, he had not done anything to lose the kingdom, and the kingdom had disappeared. It was better to forget, because it was hurting, it was a wound. It was better that it heal.
After many years, when he was standing before a poor hotel asking for a cup of tea, a golden chariot stopped on the road and the prime minister… Seeing the golden chariot the prince felt as if he had seen it before – “Must be imagination. And this old man looks like a man I used to know, but he was not so old.” But still he could not remember that he was a prince.
But the prime minister touched his feet, and at that very moment when the prime minister touched his feet a cloud disappeared. All those years of begging became nonexistent. He simply said, “Why have you come after so many years?” Even his voice was different – it was the voice of the prince, not of a beggar.
The prime minister said, “The king is dying. He has called you back. The days of your test are over. The king wanted you to know the lowest possibility in human existence, to be a beggar, so that when you become a king you don’t forget that the beggar is also human, that the beggar perhaps is a prince in disguise. He wanted you to understand that just by being a king you do not become superior. You may have everything, but deep down you remain the beggar. Your test is over and the king is on his deathbed, and we have to reach quickly to the capital.”
The people in the hotel and in the neighborhood who had seen this young man as a beggar could not believe their eyes, because the beggar was completely transformed. His face was no longer that of a beggar – although he was still in rags, the expression of his face and eyes, the very style had suddenly changed. He was a king.
It is an ancient story. Ancient stories were not just for entertainment; they had a message. This story contains so much.
This story means that your enlightenment, your awakening is not something that is going to happen from the outside. It is not something that you have to achieve; it is something that you are born with.
But you are born amongst beggars, and seeing beggars all around you have been imitating beggars. Your being a beggar is an imitation. Your being enlightened is not an achievement but only a remembrance.