The king of a nearby kingdom came especially to view the palace. He was very impressed; it was so safe and so well-guarded no enemy could possibly get in. There was only one door, and that was guarded by a carefully selected squad of sentries who had been especially chosen in order of seniority. After all, can a sentry really be trusted? One might be tempted to kill the emperor in the night. So they had been hand-picked according to seniority, and each guard had to keep a keen eye on his junior. The other monarch was so impressed he said, “I shall also have such a palace built.”
A beggar sitting by the side of the road overheard the two rulers talking and began to laugh loudly. Quite startled, they turned to him. The beggar said, “Pardon me, but there is just one thing you have overlooked. I have been sitting here begging, and I have watched this palace being built. There is only one flaw, but it might prove costly one day. If you take my advice you will go inside and stay there; then you will remove this one door and replace it with a wall instead. Then there will be no flaw, and no danger whatsoever.”
The emperor said, “You fool! I understand what you are saying, but I would be as good as dead inside there. The palace would be my tomb.”
The beggar replied, “It has already become a tomb. The grave is always the last door to remain open.”
We are all in the process of dying, and the degree to which we step up measures for our security is in direct proportion to the progress we make in digging our own graves. The reason you look so lifeless is because you have made so many arrangements for your safety.
To be insecure is to be alive.
Life’s mantra is to live in insecurity. And, of course, living like this there is no safety. A stone is safe and a flower lives in danger – but a stone is dead and a flower is full of life! If a storm comes, the flower will fall but the stone will remain where it was. Mischievous children may come and pick the flower, but the stone will remain where it was. When the sun sets in the evening the flower will wither, but the stone will remain unaffected, will remain in its place. Would you prefer to be a stone simply because it is safe from such dangers? That is the condition you have chosen! You have become like stones. The flower is always in jeopardy. Love is a flower. And there is no greater flower, no more important flower in this world than love. There is also nothing that is in greater danger.
Love is life. Love means that your doors are open, that you are standing beneath the open sky. There may be great danger being in such a position, but this is the essence of life. Exposed like this, two things can happen – one, an enemy can attack you; two, a friend can come and embrace you. But if you protect yourself from the enemy you are also protecting yourself from the friend. If you build a wall around yourself it means you are building your own tomb. You will always be uneasy in it; you will always feel you have lost something. You have not lost anything. It is just that the flower of your heart has not opened; it is just that you have not been able to love.