it is the heart that perceives beauty

There is a story told in the East of how a king was debating with his philosophers and friends on the question of wherein beauty lies. As they were talking together on the terrace of the palace they watched their children playing below in the courtyard. Suddenly the king called to the slave of the courtyard and, handing him a jewelled cap, said 'Now take this and put it on the head of the child whose beauty seems to you to suit it best; choose and crown the most beautiful of all those playing down there'.

The slave, a little embarrassed, but pleased and interested, took the jewelled cap most carefully. First he tried it on the king's son; he saw that it suited the handsome lad and yet, somehow the slave was not quite satisfied; there seemed to him something lacking about the child and he tried it on the head of another, and another, till at last he put it on his own little son.

There he saw that the cap fitted his child exactly; it became his wonderfully; it was just the right cap for him. So the slave took his son by the hand, and leading him to the king, and trembling a little with fear said, 'Sire, of all the children, I find that the crown suits this one best of all. Indeed if I tell the truth I must say this, though I am ashamed to appear so bold; for indeed the boy is the son of my most unworthy self.'

Then the king and those with him laughed very heartily as he thanked the slave, and rewarded him with the same cap for his child, and said, 'Certainly you have told me what I wished to know; it is the heart that perceives beauty'. For the son of this slave was outwardly a very ugly child, as the king and all those with him saw at a glance. But it didn't matter because truly, it is the heart that perceives beauty.

Credit: A story from the works of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Published in Chishtiya Inayati of Canada website.

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