Serving your ongoing personal and professional development.
Life and Business Coach
Nachiketa and the Secret of Immortality
is one of my favorite stories. It teaches much of what we
need to know to really succeed in our careers and lives. It comes
from India and it
is centuries old. This particular rendition is adapted from Jack Kornfield’s excellent book,
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path.
hero of our story is a young Indian boy named Nachiketa.
Nachiketa was the son of a rich merchant.
His father, encouraged by the local Hindu priests, tried to
buy a good rebirth through a large donation to the local temple.
Nachiketa was horrified by the idea that virtue could be
Father persisted. The Brahman priests arranged a big public
gathering to mark the donation.
With the whole village gathered, the Father stood up in
front of the town folk and announced that he was giving his
cattle, his gold, and all he valued to the temple.
this Nachiketa could not contain his disgust any longer and cried
“Hah, all you value Father….what about me
embarrassed the father responded, “I give you too you rude
boy….. I give you to Death.”
He returned home immediately, said goodbye to his mother
and headed off to an isolated spot deep in the forest. And there
he sat down, waiting to meet The King of Death.
For three days and three nights with neither food nor water
he sat motionless, determined to meet The King of Death also known
in these parts as Lord Yama.
through hunger, pain and exhaustion Nachiketa finally entered that
magical stage halfway between life and death. It was then he
finally arrived at the land of Lord Yama.
arrival, he was greeted by Death’s three assistants, pestilence,
famine and war, who explained that Lord Yama was currently away,
but was expected back shortly.
said Nachiketa, “I will wait for him.”
Lord Yama returned several days later his assistants told him of
the curious young man, who actually came seeking him. (Most humans
run far away from Death.)
Yama, The King of Death greeted Nachiketa and apologized for
keeping him waiting.
“Welcome to my kingdom.
And since I have kept you waiting, I will offer you three
blessings. Choose wisely.”
with the clarity of mind that came after 3 days of sitting and
fasting, Nachiketa knew exactly what to ask for.
first boon he requested was forgiveness for himself, and everyone
he had known. Nachiketa said, “May my father love me as
tenderly as the day I was born.”
(Nachiketa knew that only by releasing the past could he
continue his journey.)
his second boon Nachiketa asked for the blessing of inner fire.
knew that to succeed on his journey, he would need passion,
courage and commitment to fully give himself to his path.
Yama was very impressed by the choices young Nachiketa was making.
free of past conflicts and pain, and filled with the passion of
his own inner fire, Nachiketa had found much of what he needed.
But there was one more boon.
Lord Yama asked Nachiketa to name his last blessing.
careful reflection Nachiketa asked that as his third and last
boon, he would like to know immortality.
Yama reminded him that this was his last boon and evoking images
of riches, dancing maidens and all that the material world could
offer, he tempted Nachiketa to choose among these.
Nachiketa was wise and determined. He asked The King of Death,
“Will not all of this you have shown me quickly return
to your kingdom Lord Yama?”
replied The King of Death, extremely impressed by the young
let me know that which is immortal.”
Yama said, “You are very wise Nachiketa. I will grant your
third boon.” Lord
Yama handed Nachiketa an extraordinary gift—a simple hand
“If you wish to know immortality Nachiketa, I cannot
help you more than this. To find immortality, you must look
directly into yourself and ask the greatest of all questions,
‘Who am I.’ You must look beyond your body Nachiketa. You must
look beyond your personality, thoughts and history.
When you can do this, you will find what you seek.”
peace with his past, in touch with his inner fire, and stripped of
concerns of ego, Nachiketa could now continue on his journey with
a peaceful, free and pure heart.
I have three questions for you to consider.
What do you need to let go of to become more present, and have more energy to focus on what is important to you today?
What do you do to connect to your inner fire, your passions, those things that bring you more fully alive and get you more excited about life?
is the reflective practice you can do each day to help you get
past your ego, the home of your doubts and fears, and more fully
the day with a light and pure heart?
All the best,