The Buddha once told a story about a young man who was a trader and had a beautiful wife and baby son. Sadly, his wife fell ill and died, and the man poured all his love into his little child, who became the sole source of his happiness and joy.
Once while he went away on business, bandits raided his village, burned it to the ground and captured his five-year-old son. When he returned and saw the devastation, he was beside himself with grief. He found the charred corpse of a small child, and in his desperation, he took it for the body of his son. He tore at his hair and beat his chest, and wept uncontrollably.
At last, he arranged a cremation ceremony, collected up the ashes, and put them in a very precious silk pouch. Whether he was working, sleeping or eating, he always carried that bag of ashes with him, and often he would sit alone and weep, for hours on end.
One day his son escaped from the bandits, and found his way home. It was midnight when he arrived at his father’s new house and knocked on the door. The man lay in bed, sobbing, the bag of ashes by his side.
“Who is it?” he asked.
The child answered, “It’s me, daddy, it’s your son. Open the door.”
In his anguish and confusion, all that the father could think of was that some malicious boy was playing a cruel trick on him.
“Go away,” he shouted, “leave me alone.” Then he started to cry once more.
Again and again, the boy knocked, but the father refused to let him in. Finally, he slowly turned and walked away. The father and son never saw one another ever again.
When he came to the end of his story, the Buddha said, “Sometime, somewhere you take something to be the truth. But if you cling to it too strongly, then even when the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it.”
Thich Nhat Hanh. Being Peace