As the fakir was proceeding towards the town he met some travelers who said, “What an egoist the king is! He has made all these arrangements just to show you his magnificence. He has lamps lit not only in every house but all along the streets. The whole town looks like the Festival of Lights. He has covered the steps you are to climb with sheets of gold inlaid with precious stones. He wants to show you that you are but a naked fakir while he revels in his glory.” The fakir said, “We shall see his arrogance.”
The day arrived for the fakir to visit his old friend. All the people went to receive him at the gates to the town. The king was also there. He looked at his friend and was dumbstruck. It was not the rainy season but the fakir’s legs were smeared with muck right up to his knees! But it would have been embarrassing to ask him about it in front of so many people. When he crossed the glittering steps and entered the palace, the fakir sat on the priceless carpet spread especially in his honor – and dirtied it!
Then the king finally asked him. “Friend, there was no rain anywhere, and it is not the rainy season, then how come your legs are covered with mire?”
The fakir replied, “If you wanted to show off your wealth, I wanted to show off my poverty to you.”
The king laughed and said, “Then come, brother, let us embrace, for neither of us has gotten anywhere. We are just where we were when we left school.”
Wealth can fill you with arrogance, and so can renunciation. So arrogance is the only obstruction. Once arrogance is obliterated, shame is what remains.
Nanak says, “The he who is filled with shame gets showered with God’s grace.” Shame and modesty is worthiness. As long as you are arrogant you do not need him, and how can you achieve what you do not need? You have never really called him, wanted him, needed him. If ever you called him it was for other things: when the child was ill, or you had a case in court – but never just for himself!
Until you call him just for himself, all your prayers are false for your prayer has nothing to do with divinity. You want something of the world – perhaps you might get it from God.
A wealthy man was dying. He called his priest and asked him, “If I were to donate one hundred million rupees to your temple, would I get a place in heaven?” This was a natural question from a man who always thought in terms of wealth.
The priest answered, “There is no harm in trying, though I cannot promise anything. I have never heard of anyone booking his seat in heaven this way. Since your wealth is going to be left anyway, why not try?”
If you have acquired anything through wealth, the feeling always remains in your mind somewhere that worship or meditation can also be attained this way. Wealth is gained by ego, by ambition; whereas worship, prayer, meditation are attained through shame. God is attained only when all ambitions fall, when you find yourself utterly useless, when nothing you do turns out correct. At the moment that you are absolutely helpless and incapable of doing anything, his grace showers.