The Gold Plated Kingdom

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there was once a great city with a king who loathed to see peasants lying on the streets and wanted them out of his sights, for he wanted his kingdom to be the most beautiful and happy of all the land.

One year, he created a small village outside the city near the forest, and there he conspired to cast away all the invalids and all manner of people with deformities and maladies. “It pains me so, but there is no other way…” the king said.

But before casting aside the invalids to the forest, the king had each one brought before him so he may judge their fitness and value for his kingdom. If they were to be found ill, he would send them off, but if they could offer service to his kingship, they could stay.

Hundreds of invalids passed by the king, until the knights brought forward a little boy who would not confess to any malady. The little boy was brought before the king and he stared in wonder at the tall, golden-plated pillars of the palace.

“What a beautiful palace you have!” the boy said.

“Yes” the king responded… “Now, knights what is the problem with this one?”

“Every day his memory leaves him, and he knows not where he is or what his name is”

“Very well, …then toss him aside as well” said the king, and the boy was sent off with the lot.

And so it came to pass that the king rid his kingdom of all ill people, and only the most beautiful and healthy people resided therein. He covered every tower peak with gold and every gate with silver. But despite this, the townspeople grew anxious and unhappy as they compared one another for their beauty and envied always one another. The golden plated kingdom grew heavy with vanity and greed. And so one day the king summoned his brightest men to try to explain why it is that everyone was yet more unhappy in his new paradise. None could offer an answer until an old man came to the king’s palace to try and explain to him. “My king, there are rumors that the village of outcasts is the most joyful place in all the land” he said “And your townspeople despair continually at the thought of losing their elegance and glamour.”

“What is this?!” the king said, and went himself to the outcast village and saw the crippled limping along, the blind telling jokes together, and the deaf laughing. Then he saw the boy with memory-lapse, and he asked him “Why are you so happy?”

“Look at this forest, isn’t it beautiful?” the boy said.

The king looked around; it was indeed quite beautiful.

“Yes, but what about your condition? What is wonderful about that?”

“What condition?” answered the boy, and went off to play.

And the king returned back to the palace in bewilderment. He then summoned the old man and asked him to explain.

“That boy’s name is Augen. The cripples love him the most, for he remembers nothing of how the world ought to look, and is amazed anew every day at all the things he sees. His heart lifts the spirits of the people.”

“But what of their illnesses? Why are they not in misery?”

“My king, misery comes not from the pain of the body, but from the unhappiness of the heart. A heart which compares itself endlessly to an image of perfection can never be fulfilled, but a heart that is content with nothing will suffer no sickness. Your kingdom has a sickness of the heart, and you have cast aside the medicine.”

The king was filled with remorse, and had his knights beckon back the outcasts from the village but they would not come. And the forest village grew into a beautiful town beneath the cedar trees.