Butter and Milk
In ancient India there lived a most virtuous Brahmin who was considered by all to be the best authority on philosophy. One day the local king ordered him to appear before him. When he did so, the king said:
“I have three questions that puzzle—even torment—me. 'Where is God?', 'Why don’t I see Him?', and 'What does He do all day?' If you can’t answer these three questions I will have your head cut off.”
The Brahmin was appalled and terrified, because the answers to these questions were not just complex, they were impossible to formulate. In other words, he did not know the answers. So his execution date was set.
On the morning of that day the Brahmin’s teenage son appeared and asked the king if he would release his father if he—the son—would answer the questions. The king agreed, and the son asked that a container of milk be brought to him. It was done. Then the boy asked that the milk be churned into butter. That, too, was done.
“The first two of your questions are now answered,” he told the king.
The king objected that he had been given no answers, so the son asked: “Where was the butter before it was churned?”
“In the milk,” replied the king.
“In what part of the milk?” asked the boy.
“In all of it.”
“Just so, agreed the boy, “and in the same way God is within all things and pervades all things.”
“Why don’t I see Him, then,” pressed the king.
“Because you do not ‘churn’ your mind and refine your perceptions through meditation. If you do that, you will see God. But not otherwise. Now let my father go.”
“Not at all,” insisted the king. “You have not told me what God does all day.”
“To answer that,” said the boy, “we will have to change places. You come stand here and let me sit on the throne.”
The request was so audacious the king complied, and in a moment he was standing before the enthroned Brahmin boy who told him: “This is the answer. One moment you were here and I was there. Now things are reversed. God perpetually lifts up and casts down every one of us. In one life we are exalted and in another we are brought low—oftentimes in a single life this occurs, and even more than once. Our lives are completely in His hand, and He does with us as He wills.”
The Brahmin was released and his son was given many honors and gifts by the king.
Title graphic photo licensed under under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license by Jorge Láscar, available here
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