Short Stories

Hanging by a thread ☸

There is an ancient story in India:

A great sage sent his chief disciple to the court of King Janak to learn something that was missing in the young man.

The young man said, “If you can’t teach me, how can this man Janak teach it to me? You are a great sage, he is only a king.  What does he know about mediatation and awareness?”

The great sage said, “You simply follow my instructions. go to him, bow down to him; don’t be egoistic, thinkingthat you are a sannyasi and he is only an ordinary haouseholder, taht he lives in the world , he is wordly and you are spiritual. Forget all about that. I’m sending you to him to learn something, so for this momet, he is your master. and I know, I have tires here, but you cannot understand because you need a different context to understand it. The court of Janak and his palace will give you the right context. You simply go, bow down to him. For these few days, he will represent me.”

Reluctantly, the young man went. He was a Brahmin, a high caste! And what was this Janak? He was rich, he had a great kingdom, but what could he teach a Brahmin? Brahmins always think that they can teach people. And Janak was not a brahmin, ha was a Kshatriya, the warriour caste in ındia. They are thought to be second to Barhmis; the Brahmins are the first, the foremost, the highest caste. To bow down to this man? This has never been done! A Brahmin bowing down to a Kshatriya is against the Indian mind.

but the master had said it, so it had to be done. Reluctantly the young man went, and reluctantly he bowed down. And when he bowed down, he was really feeling angry with his master because having to bow down to Janak was so ugly in his eyes. A beautiful woman was dancing in the court, and people were drinking wine, and Janak was sitting in this group. The young man had such condemnation- but still, he bowed down.

Janak laughed and said, “You need not bow down to me when you are carriying such condemnation in you. And don’t be so prejudiced before you have experienced me. Your master knows me well, That’s why he has sent you here. he has sent you to learn something, but this is not the way to learn.”

The young man said, “I don’t care. He has sent me, I have come, but by the morning I will go back becasue I can’t see that I can learn anything here. In fact, if I learn anything from you, my whole life will be wasted! I have not come to learn drinking wine and seiing a beautiful woman dance, and all this indulgence.”

Janak still smiled and said, “You can go in the morning. But since you have come and you are so tried… at least rest for the night and in the morning you can go. And who knows- the night may become the context of the learning for which your master has sent you to me.”

Now, this was mysterious. How could the night teach him anything? but okay, he had to be here for the night, so don’t make much fuss about it. He ramained. The king arranged for him to have the most beautiful room in the pallace, the most luxurious. The king went with the young man,  took every care about his foord, his sleep, and when he had gone to bed, Janak left.

But the young man could not sleep the whole night, bacause as he looked up, he could see a naked sword hanging by a thin thread just above his head. Now, it was so dangerous that any monet the sword could fall and kill the young man. So he remained awake the whole night, watchdul, so he could avoid the catastrophe if it was going to happen. In the morning the king asked, “Wasthe bed comfortable, the room comfortable?”

The young man said, “Comfortable! Everything was comfortable – but what about the sword?Why did you play such a trick? It was so cruel! I was tired, I had come on foot from the faraway ashram of my master in the forest, an you played such cruel joke. What kind of thing is this, to hang a naked sword by so thin a thread that I was afraid that just a small breeze and I’m gone, finished. I have not come here to commit suicide.”

The king said, “I want to ask only one thing. you were so tired, you could have fallen asleep easily, but you could not fall asleep. What happened? The danger was great, it was a question of life and death. hence you were aware, alert. This is my teachig too. You can go. Or if you want, you can stay a few more days to watch me.

“Although I was sitting there in the court, where a beautiful woman was dancing, I was alertto the naked sword above my head. It is invisible; its name is death. I was not looking at the young woman. Just as you could not enjoy the luxury of the room, I was not drinking wine. I was just aware of death, which could come any moment. I am constantly aware of death; hence I live in the palace and yet I am a hermit. your master knows me and understands me. he understands my understanding too. That is why he has sent you here. If you live here for a few days, you can watch on your own.” … From Osho – Awareness

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