By Satguru Swami Nirmalananda
Long ago, a king invited a drama company to come perform a play. As the king was known to be stingy, the head actor and his wife were concerned about getting paid. They put on the play but, as they were near the end, the wife began to falter, despairing about getting paid.
Her husband, playing a character opposite her, said quietly to her, “Don’t slacken now,” even though it was not a line in the play. The king’s daughter took off a jeweled bracelet and tossed it on the stage as a gift to the players.
A little later, the wife again lost her focus. Her husband turned to her and said, “Don’t slacken now.” The king’s son was affected by it. He took off a ring encrusted with many gems and threw it onto the stage.
The play continued. Near the end, again the actor spoke to his wife, to draw her more deeply into her role, “Don’t slacken now.” The queen took off a pair of emerald earrings, put them together in one hand and tossed them onto the stage.
The players completed the story to rounds of applause. Then they came over to bow before the king who offered them paltry gifts, just as they had expected. The king said, “There were times you seemed to be faltering, but you said, ‘Don’t slacken now,’ and everybody picked up again. You managed that very well. But I don’t understand why my family members were affected so much that they gave such valuable gifts.“
He asked his daughter, “Why did you throw them that expensive bracelet?” She replied, “I must tell the truth, father. You won’t arrange a marriage for me because you’re too cheap to give the dowry. So I was thinking of eloping with somebody. When the actor said, ‘Don’t slacken now,’ I thought, ‘I can wait. I can wait. I can sustain myself a little longer.’ I threw him the bracelet out of gratitude.”
The king asked his son, “Why did you throw them that ring?” The son said, “You’re never going to give me any power. You keep me under your thumb. I cannot lie. I was thinking of leading a revolt against you. But you’re my father, I don’t want to do that. So when he said, ‘Don’t slacken now,’ I thought, ‘I can wait. My father is an old man. He’ll die soon. I can wait.’ I threw the ring as a gift.”
The king also asked his wife. She said, “This is the first time you have ever asked me how I felt. I must tell you true. You have shown me no compassion or love in our many years together. So my head is turned toward another man. But I have not yet stepped fully into that possibility. I have not taken a lover. I remain true to you, though you don’t make it easy. When he said, ‘Don’t slacken now,’ I threw them my earrings as a thank you.”
Now is the time to remind yourself: “Don’t slacken now. Yes, seclusion is hard, even scary, but necessary. Don’t slacken now.” Yet there’s a deeper level of teaching in the story: “Your own Divine Essence is so close within, closer than your breath. You don’t ‘become’ Consciousness. You discover who you already are by looking inward, to the deepest level within. Meditate! Don’t slacken now.” While you have more time available (if you do), this is the time to do more yoga.