Please see preceding posts if you're just entering this story . . . "Yesterday, if you had not taken pity on my age and given me a hand with digging these beds, you would have been attacked by that man on your way home.  Then you would have deeply regretted not staying with me.  Therefore the most important time was the time you were digging in the beds, the most important person was myself, and the most important pursuit was to help me."

"Later, when the wounded man ran up here, the most important time was the time you spent dressing his wound, for if you had not cared for him he would have died and you would have lost the chance to be reconciled with him.  Likewise, he was the most important person, and the most important pursuit was taking care of his wound."

"Remember that there is only one important time and that is now.  The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.  The most important person is always the person you are with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future?  The most important pursuit is making the person standing at your side happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life."

THE END

A note on this series

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.