Monday, March 15, 2010

The King and the Sage

We hear stories about Kings meeting with sages and being transformed by the encounter, often with few words being spoken. A newsletter carried a similar story going back 2500 years to China. It was about a king who thought he had everything he could want in life, and a severely crippled and physically repulsive man who had none of the things most of us consider important in life: health, physical beauty, and wealth. What he did have was wisdom, compassion, and virtue that all could see. When the king heard that such a man was living in his realm, he decided to see for himself if what he had heard was true.

After the meeting, the king saw a different world from the one he had seen before. "Strange to say," he said, "but the things I saw before, I no longer see, and the things I didn't see before, I now see. The sage had opened the king's inner eye, a quality of seeing that is often compared to seeing with the eye of the heart. This insight is captured in the well-known saying," It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

The newsletter account goes on to tell of the miracles of Jesus curing the blind. Though Jesus restored sight to those who were physically blind, he was much more than a healer of the physical. He was and is also a healer of our inner blindness.

We are fortunate in not seeing all there is to see in the world; it would be more than we could bear. By growing in wisdom and compassion, however; we can look forward to the time when we will see more than we see now and what we thought we saw in the past may not be important. In the Beatitudes we are told: "Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God."

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