The king of a small state in the south of India used to meditate every day on himself as a servant of God. He limited the satisfaction of his desires to what he thought appropriate to a servant, and practised a servant’s simplicity of life. After some years, this practice produced in him extraordinary energy and clear-sightedness; his kingdom was a success internally, and the neighbouring kings soon found it did not pay to venture to extend their territory.
The king’s spiritual adviser (though not his teacher) was one of his ministers to whom the king owed, and knew that he owed, a good deal of his success. This minister was an advanced practicant of meditation.
One day the king learned, by chance, that the minister’s own form of meditation was on the self as infinite shining space. He told the minister that he would like to go on to this higher form of meditation, but the minister advised him against it.
Tt would not accord with your present role,’ he told him.
The king was a little put out, and retorted, Tf you can say this and meditate on it, I can do so too. Why shouldn’t I?’
The minister said, ‘You can say it, of course. But it will not have any effect unless the one who says it is qualified for it.’
‘What has qualification to do with it?’ cried the king. ‘The words are bound to have their effect.’
The minister beckoned to tl>e king’s bodyguard, who stood on the far side of the room. The man came running up and stood at attention.
‘Slap his face!’ said the minister in a firm voice.
The bodyguard’s jaw dropped in astonishment.
‘You heard me, didn’t you? Slap his face!’ ordered the minister sharply.
The bodyguard closed his mouth firmly and stood motionless, his eyes fixed on the king.
The minister turned to the king: ‘You say it.’
‘Slap his face’ said the king in a low voice. Instantly the bodyguard’s hand landed in a loud smack on the minister’s cheek. The king waved him away – ‘Not so hard, not so hard.’
After a little silence, the minister said quietly, ‘You see? We spoke the same words, but you were qualified, and I was not. So the words you spoke were effective. But what I said would not have been effective, even if I had repeated them a thousand times, because I did not have the qualification to say them. It’s the same with spiritual truths.’