Please see preceding post if you're just entering this story . . . "But what have you done that I should forgive you?" the emperor asked.

"You do not know me, your majesty, but I know you.  I was your sworn enemy, and I had vowed to take vengeance on you, for during the last war you killed my brother and seized my property. When I learned that you were coming alone to the mountain to meet the hermit, I resolved to surprise you on your way back and kill you.  But after waiting a long time there was still no sign of you, and so I left my ambush in order to seek you out.  But instead of finding you, I came across your attendants, who recognized me, giving me this wound.  Luckily, I escaped and ran here.  If I hadn't met you I would surely be dead by now.  I had intended to kill you, but instead you saved my life!  I am ashamed and grateful beyond words.  If I live, I vow to be your servant for the rest of my life, and I will bid my children and grandchildren to do the same. Please grant me your forgiveness."

To be continued . . .

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.