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The Key to the Golden Palace

Dai_Jin-Inquiring_of_the_Dao_at_the_Cave_of_ParadiseThere is a beautiful legend about a Golden Palace that would please the heart of any person, but, that person must earn the key to the palace through his or her good deeds.

One day, Hung Di approached the Golden Palace and asked the door keeper “What shall I do to earn the key to the Golden Palace?” The door keeper replied “do something nice for somebody else, and you can earn the precious key.”

Huang Di ran to find someone to do something nice for. He searched the streets to find a beggar and gave him the coins he had been saving for years. He waited at the roadside to help people cross the muddy and slippery path. “Now,” he said, “I have surely earned the key.” He hurried to the door keeper, but the old man shook his head sadly and said, “try again.”

Huang Di returned to town disappointed. As he came to a steep pathway he noticed an old woman struggling up the mountain with a heavy load. Huang Di thought to himself, “I shall carry her heavy load all the way to the top and that shall earn me the key!”

His good deed completed, he turned and hurried to the door keeper and cried “the key, the key, I surely earned it now!” The door keeper looked sadly at Huang Di and said, “try again.”

Now Huang Di was discouraged. He decided to abandon his attempt to earn the key to the Golden Palace. Feeling dejected, he walked home in despair. Suddenly he heard a faint cry from the bushes. As he parted the bushes he noticed a shaggy dog caught in a hunters trap. Huang Di knelt and tried to unfasten the trap, pulling at the sharp sticks until his fingers were torn and bloody. Finally, the dog was free. He tore off his shirt and bandaged the shaggy dogs paw. The dog licked his hand and whimpered thankfully. Huang Di scooped up the dog and carried it home.

Suddenly, the old door keeper appeared in front of the tired and bloody Huang Di and handed him the much sought after key to the Golden Palace. Huang Di said, “the key is not for me. I did not help the little dog for the key. I forgot about the key.” To which the door keeper responded with joy, “you forgot about yourself, Huang Di, the key is for those who forget about themselves when doing good deeds.”

We don’t win the rich rewards of life by doing things with the hope and expectation of a reward. Only when we do something through sheer compassion, sincere love, and friendship do we reap the rewards we seek.

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