I attend the Center for Spiritual Awareness in Lakewood on Sundays. This Sunday the leader retold a Franz Kafka short story that struck a personal chord in me. Here is my retelling and paraphrasing of the “Asking Permission” story:
Once upon a time, a long time ago, a man, a Seeker, was searching for meaning and purpose in life. He studied, he prayed, he asked all the wise people he could find. Then, one early morning during that time when we are no longer asleep or awake, he had a crystal clear vision and heard a voice. Very clearly he was told and shown, with directions, to take this path into the wilderness to find his fulfillment. So he packed up some provisions and began following the directions on the path into the unknown. After a time he came upon a very large, wooden gate. Next to the gate was The Gatekeeper.
Our Seeker asked, “Mr. Gatekeeper, will you give me permission to pass through the gate?”
The Gatekeeper quietly responded, “No I will not.”
“Okay”, said the Seeker, “I’ll just wait until you open it or another comes along.”
So he waited and he waited and he waited. Then he unpacked his provisions and set up camp right there on the path. After a few days he went back into town to get more provisions.
And he waited and he waited and he waited. Being so persistent and tenacious he lived there by the gate for years and years and years.
Finally, he was an old man and could feel his time was coming to an end. Weak with old age and decrepitude he went up to the Gatekeeper and said,
“What gives? I’ve waited here all my life and you do not give permission to pass and I have never seen anyone else on this road? What gives?”
Whereupon The Gatekeeper said, “You do not need permission to pass, you may pass anytime you want.”
And the Gatekeeper added, “You have not seen anyone else on this path because this path has always been yours and yours alone.”
“You never need permission when you are on your own path”
With that, the Gatekeeper then closed and locked the gate for good.