The Barber and the King

Serving the Guru is more important than life

There was once a barber who was serving the local king. In those days barbers used to do massages as well as shaves and haircuts. The king had had arthritis for many years and it was the barber’s job to go to the palace every morning to shave the king and massage his knees.

One day, the barber received an unexpected visit from his Guru. He thought to himself, “This Guru is my God. I have to stay at home to serve him. The king may punish me and I may even lose my job, but today I have to stay at home to serve my Master.”

Later that day, when his Guru had left, the barber went to the palace to apologise to the king for his absence. He approached the gates in a state of great agitation because he knew that the king had the power of life and death over him.

The palace guard said to him, “Why have you come back? Did the king send for you again?” The barber couldn’t understand. He just thought that the guard was making fun of him. News of the barber’s unexpected visit spread quickly and soon reached the room where the king was staying. He rushed out to greet the barber and embraced him with great joy.

“After your visit this morning,” said the king, “my arthritis has completely gone. That was the best massage I have ever had. I wanted to thank you but you slipped away before I had a chance. I am glad you came back because I want to give you a reward.”

He gave him a bag of gold and said, “You don’t need to come here again. I don’t need any more massages. You can retire and enjoy the money I am giving you.”

Now, what happened in this case? The barber showed his loyalty to his Guru by serving him first. In doing so, he knew he was jeopardising his job and maybe even his life. He didn’t care because serving his Guru was more important than saving his life. When you have that degree of faith and commitment, miracles can easily happen. His Guru did nothing, but the barber’s faith in his Master invoked a power that manifested in the king’s presence and cured the latter’s painful joints.

These things can happen around a Master, even if he is not aware of them.