The King and His Son
There is a wonderful story from the Old Testament that concerns a conflict between a king and his son and the power of the spirit to resolve that conflict. The king had been preoccupied with matters of state and unable to spend much time with his family. One day, he decided he wanted to see his son so he called in his chief minister and instructed him to find the young man and bring him to his audience chamber at once. After a long search the minister found the son and told him of the king’s order. The young man said he was busy at the moment and couldn’t come to the palace to see his father. The chief minister was appalled. In his world you didn’t defy the orders of a king. However, since he had no power to force the king’s son to return to the palace, the chief minister had no choice but to return empty handed and report to the king what the young prince had said. The king was shocked and upset when the chief minister told him his son’s answer. After all he was the king. No one dared to disobey him. Who was his son to do so?
Again, he ordered his chief minister to find the young man and command him to come to the palace immediately. The chief minister, however, could not find the young man. Eventually, he learned that king’s son had fled the kingdom. With a heavy heart the chief minister returned to the palace and informed the king that his son had run away. This time instead of getting angry, the king became introspective and quiet. The father in him took over. As he thought the matter through, he realized that his relationship with his son was far more important than his authority and control over him. His insensitive demands had driven his son away. Only his love and respect could bring him back. With his mind now clear, the king gave new instructions to his chief minister, “Go and find my son, and when you have found him, tell him to come as far as he can. I will come the rest of the way.”
The possibility of losing his son had shocked the king and brought him back to his true nature. By moving outside his ego, he connected with his soul and found the answer to his problem. By stepping outside his role as the king, and away from his power to dominate the lives of his subjects that this role gave him, he was able to act with humility and find common ground with his son. By placing a more important value on serving his son than on controlling him, the king displayed his wisdom.
We are not always as wise as the king or as prepared to be humble in the service of love and truth. Instead of moving back a step, cooling down, and seeking to find the way out of conflict, we are often prone to react under the auspices of the three forces of alienation, fear, greed, and desire, thereby making things much worse for everyone involved, including ourselves.
Emptiness and Futility
Whenever the three forces of alienation attain systemic dominance in our lives, the end result of that dominance is a growing conviction of the futility of life. If we are busy and successful we can override that sense of futility for a time, but our success will never entirely eradicate it. We can cover it up, but we cannot expunge it.
Most people make the mistake of thinking that if they succeed in the external world, their success will automatically translate to their inner life: that in some mysterious, mystical, unthinking, and unfathomable fashion, their affluence will cross-pollinate and blossom into happiness, meaning, peace, and fulfillment. The long history of man, however, suggests a far different outcome. Cross-pollination has always been far more a hope than it ever has been a reality. While mankind has renewed its pursuit of this dream in each successive generation, spiritual law suggests that in doing so we have put the cart before the horse. What we gain in the world does not translate into increased internal light, nor can it compensate for what we lose when we ignore our inner growth. However, if we were to reverse the normal order of things and seek our growth first, success would come to us in a much easier fashion, and that success would be more in harmony with our essential nature. When we find ourselves, it is much easier to be fulfilled than it is to attempt to find fulfillment when we don’t yet know who we are.