The Parable of the Golden Boat (for children and adults)
Once upon a time, some very wealthy people lived on a golden boat. The golden boat was really big, like a city, but floating on a beautiful blue sea.
The people of the golden boat liked to call themselves “The Goldens,” and they thought they were very special. As a matter of fact, the golden people thought they were much more special than the workers, who worked on the boat, but who lived somewhere else. The Goldens didn’t even bother to find out where the workers lived, because they didn’t care.
In fact, the workers, who called themselves “real people,” lived on wooden boats. What was really funny was that the Goldens thought their golden boat floated all by itself, and they didn’t realize that the wooden boats of the real people surrounded the golden boat and held it afloat.
If it weren’t for the real people’s wooden boats, that golden boat would have sunk long ago. The real people worked really hard to make sure that their wooden boats stayed water proof and leak proof, not only so they wouldn’t lose their own homes, but also so that their boats would keep the golden boat afloat.
Life had been this way for a very long time. No one remembered when people had lived any other way.
The workers, that is, the real people, would sail wooden cargo boats to the land that they could see at the edge of the water – on the horizon. On the land, they would gather more wood, and grow food, and get rain water for drinking and all the needs of the golden people.
The real people would bring everything the golden people needed back to the golden boat, and then they also worked very hard for the golden people on the golden boat, making sure they had meals, and clothes, and clean homes.
The golden people directed the workers as to what they should do. But when they directed the workers to bring them more wood, or water, or clothing, they had no idea where the workers got everything; to the golden people, everything just magically appeared, because they gave the workers something called “money.”
The money the goldens payed the workers enabled the workers to buy clothes and wood and food from each other. The money also paid for the schools that their children attended, on a big wooden barge behind the golden boat. The real children had to learn how to cook, sew, clean, count, and so much more. The golden children only had to learn how to direct the workers, how to dress to impress, and how to make money. Everything in life seemed to depend on the money that the golden people made on their golden boat.
Because the golden people made the money, they thought they were the real reason that everything went smoothly for everyone. The golden people took all the credit for creating jobs, for making sure that everyone had wood and clothes and food. In reality, though, the real people were the ones who made sure that everyone had clothes, and food, and wood, and everything they could possibly need. The real people did all the work, except for making money.
The real people cooked, cleaned, manufactured everything except the money, and they worked hard day and night, making life really wonderful for the golden people. At night, the real people would work hard taking care of their families, and then the real people would get a little rest on their small wooden boats, so that they could start all over again.
The golden people believed that they ran everything. Because they decided when they wanted more food, and when they wanted more wood, and when they would take a bath or go swimming in their swimming pools on their golden boat, they thought that they were in charge of everything. They believed that being in charge made them important. They also believed that making money and having money made them important. They made money whenever they wanted to, and they made sure that their money was golden, too. The golden people simply got the real people, whom they always called “the workers,” to do everything for them by giving them a little bit of money for their work.
Only the real people knew that all their work made life possible for the golden people, but they had forgotten that they were the ones who knew how to do everything that was needed for life to go on. After all, they were the only ones who knew how to grow food, and to mend the wooden boats, and to sail to land. The real people had forgotten that they didn’t really need the golden people, because the golden people had convinced the real people that they needed money, which, after all, wasn’t even very real.
Money didn’t grow on trees, although it was made from trees. Money didn’t grow fruits or nuts or make flowers. Money didn’t make the gardens grow, and money couldn’t be sewn together to make clothes. But, nonetheless, the golden people had somehow, long ago, convinced the real people that they needed money to stay alive.
The real people knew that the only reason the golden people stayed alive was because of all the real people’s work, and because the real people’s wooden boats held up the golden boat. But the real people were too scared to live life without the golden people and their money. And the real people liked living beside the golden boat because it was so beautiful and because life seemed so wonderful on the golden boat. The real people dreamed of being able to live on the golden boat themselves. They even dreamed of being golden people.
Because the real people lived in the pretend world of their dreams, and the golden people lived in the pretend world of keeping their golden boat floating and their golden lives organized and happy, everyone lived in a pretend world together. The real people had actually forgotten why they called themselves the real people.
Everyone got along, but no one was really very happy. The only way people felt happy was by pretending that what they experienced in life was all there is, and by pretending that the golden boat, the golden money, and the golden people all made life special. The golden people felt good having money, because then they could make the workers do everything for them. The real people felt good earning money, because then they felt a little bit more like the golden people. As long as they had money, everyone felt a little bit happy, because they all believed the money, and the golden boat, were what made them truly happy.
Sometimes, once in a long while, one of the real people would figure out what was really happening, and become very unhappy. The real people who woke up, tried to convince everyone else that they were crazy, and that they didn’t have to live life this way, and that the reason everything worked was because the real people worked, not because of the golden people.
Whenever one of the real people woke up and tried to make everyone else see what was really going on, the golden people would pay the real people more money to make that person go away and stop talking “crazy talk.”
Sometimes, the real people who woke up would be rowed over to the land, and left there. Usually, the real people who were abandoned on the land would learn to live happily with the plants, the animals, and the forests. Sometimes they would even learn to meditate, and live peacefully and blissfully among the beauties of nature. Eventually, the real people who woke up and who meditated stopped wanting the golden boat anymore. Once they broke free of the pretend world through meditation, they no longer wanted to be like the golden people or the real people.
The real people who no longer wanted to be someone else other than who they truly are, became the very few people who were truly free. And once these very few people became free, they never, ever wanted to be anyone or anything except free ever again.
When they became free, they felt so full of love, they wanted to help everyone else become free. They knew that the best way to help others become free was to remain free from the golden boat themselves, and to teach others how they could become free. The people who became free taught meditation, and were revered by only a few people who had also awakened. And so, every generation or so, there would be one or two, or maybe even a few real people who woke up, and who became truly happy, and truly free. They taught the next generation how to be free.
The golden people never woke up, because nothing happened to them that would make them want to wake up. They thought they were very happy because they had money, and because they lived on a golden boat. The golden people especially thought they were happy because they believed that they were so much better than the workers. But the golden people were never free.
The happiest people in the world were the real people who woke up, and then gave up money, gave up the golden boat, meditated, and became free. And the people who became free always lived happily ever after.
Love and Light,