“He wandered around the kingdom and found a group of drunkards, gamblers, prostitutes. All sorts of evil-doing was going on; he became part of it. Not only did he become a member – by and by he became the leader. Of course, he was a prince and he had the charisma of becoming a leader.
“Many years passed. The father was getting older and older, and he was worried – worried for the welfare of his only son. Seeing that death was approaching, he sent one of his most clever ministers to bring the son back.
“The minister went in a beautiful golden chariot, with many servants, almost a regiment following him. A great golden tent was fixed outside the village. He sent a messenger to this prince, but he didn’t bother to turn up. The minister remained outside the village – it was below him to go inside the village, a poor village – and it was absolutely inconceivable for him to enter the black hole where the prince was living with all those dirty people. He tried but the communication was not possible – the distance was vast. He failed, came back.
“Then another, a more courageous man was sent. He was courageous and he has understood the failure – why the first messenger, the first minister could not communicate. So he didn’t go there like a minister, he went like a peasant. In ordinary clothes, with no servants, he simply went and mixed with the group. He became friendly, but by and by he himself started to love that freedom.
“The palace was like a prison, there was no freedom – and here everybody was absolutely free, totally free. Nobody was creating any hindrance for anybody, everybody was allowed to be himself. They were drunkards, but they were beautiful people. They were gamblers, but they were beautiful persons. He really got mixed…. He also failed because he himself never turned up to report back to the king.
“The king was very much worried. Now the thing was becoming unmanageable. He asked a third minister, who was not only courageous, but wise also – and that was going to be the last effort.
“The third minister asked for a three-month leave to prepare himself, only then could he go.
“The king asked, ‘What? What are you going to prepare?’”
“He said, ‘To remember myself.’”
“Three months leave was granted. He went to a zaddik, to a master, to become more mindful, because the way the first minister has behaved was absolutely useless, communication was not possible. The second had done better but he has also failed because he could not remember himself.
“So he said to the master, ‘Help me, so that I can remember myself and can remember that I come from the palace on a certain duty to be fulfilled.’ Three months he meditated – a method of self-remembering, what Buddha calls mindfulness – then he went.