Once upon a time, a king said he would give away his kingdom. He said he would give it to anybody who came to him, in seven days’ time, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and asked for it! Practically everyone decided to go in for this adventure.
The king himself sat behind seven gates.
After the first gate was a beautiful garden, with swimming pools, baths and fountains, where you could bathe and refresh yourself.
After the second gate was every type of food and drink, tasty and appetizing, all provided for nothing.
After the third gate, there were beautiful clothes and costumes of every kind, where one could dress up and take clothes away for one’s self or others.
After the fourth gate was the treasury. Here were heaps of gold, silver and diamonds. You could take as much as you could carry.
After the fifth gate were actors and musicians and you could hear music and singing, and watch the beautiful dancing.
After the sixth gate were armchairs and sofas and beds, soft and eternally comfortable. Here you could sleep. No sooner had you stretched your legs out than you were asleep.
People came up to each gate and asked the gatekeepers to let them in. The gatekeepers said, “Come in! Everything is free!” People rushed in gladly. They had the most marvelous bath of their life. Then they ate and drank all they could, and took some more for their family. They dressed themselves up in all kinds of fine clothing. They loaded themselves with gold, silver and jewels.
Some had enough after the first two gates, and, once they were and full, felt satisfied. Others went off with clothes, or gold, or silver, and did not come back. Very few went on and enjoyed the music, and after seeing the beautiful dancing and listening to the entrancing songs, lost control of their minds and went no further. One or two went on, and found themselves a cosy corner to enjoy a perfect sleep…
But there was one man who cared for none of the things. He did not stop to bathe, he took no food, he did not change his clothes, did not even look at the gold, took no notice of the music, and showed no interest in sleep. At every gate, he was asked to stay and make himself at home, but he did not even look!
One after the other he walked through the seven gates, and at the right time came to the king and demanded the kingdom. So the man got it, renunciation brought him a kingdom.
We want pleasure but we get pain instead. This is because each pleasure contains the seeds of pain.
Adapted from The Man Who Wanted To Meet God.
Sri Shantanand Saraswati