One day it occurred to a certain emperor that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter.

1. What is the best time to do each thing?

2. Who are the most important people to work with?

3. What is the most important thing to do at all times?

The emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer the questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer.

To be continued . . .

This post is part of a short series of postings taken from Tolstoy's short tale, "The Emperor's Three Questions."

The tale is a remarkable meditation on mindfulness, the awakened life, the practice of living from a prayerful center. Along with other Russian literary giants, Tolstoy wrote from inside nineteenth century Russia which experienced a revival of the Jesus Prayer among ordinary peasants who sought to live well in hard times.

I see Tolstoy's tale as a popularization of the spirituality of the Jesus Prayer for ordinary people. Reviving this story during our tumultuous century may serve to give us guidance for living well in the midst of the new challenges facing our daily lives.

Take time to ponder this little section of the tale and seek for ways it might guide your day today.

Don't hurry, there is real gold here.

You might also enjoy the award winning 2006 Russian film, The Island, which explores the ethical impact of 19th century Russian spirituality, and in particular, the Jesus Prayer, on our modern world.