One great king, Prasenjita, contemporary to Gautam Buddha, had come to see Gautam Buddha for the first time. His wife had been a lay-disciple of Gautam Buddha for a long time before she was married to Prasenjita. She was a daughter of a greater king.
So when Gautam Buddha came to Prasenjita's capital, the wife said to the husband, “It does not look right that when a man like Gautam Buddha comes to your capital, you don't go to welcome him. I am going. He is sure to ask about you. What am I to say?”
The husband thought for a moment, and he said, “Okay, I am coming also. But because I am coming for the first time, I would like to give him some present. I have one very great diamond; even emperors are jealous because of that diamond. Buddha must appreciate it, so I will take the diamond.”
The wife started laughing. She said, “Rather than the diamond, it will be better if you take a lotus flower from our big pond. To the Buddha the lotus flower is more beautiful. What will he do with the diamond? It will be an unnecessary burden.”
He said, “I will take both and let us see who wins.”
So he came on his golden chariot to the commune of Buddha, where ten thousand monks were sitting around him. Just before he was going to start his morning talk, the golden chariot of the king stopped, so he waited for the king to come in.
The king came in front of him, and first he offered Buddha the diamond. Buddha said, “Drop it!” It was very difficult for Prasenjita to drop his diamond — that was his very life! — but not to drop it also was difficult. Before ten thousand people Buddha had said it — “and you have offered the diamond so it no longer belongs to you.”
He hesitated. Buddha said, “Drop it!” So he dropped the diamond, reluctantly, and offered the lotus flower with the other hand.
Buddha said, “Drop it!” Prasenjita thought, “Is this man crazy?” He dropped the lotus flower, and Buddha said, “Don't you listen? Drop it!”
He said, “Both my hands are empty. Now what do you want me to drop?” At that moment, one of the oldest disciples of Buddha, Sariputra, said, “You don't understand. Buddha is not saying to drop the diamond, or to drop the flower. He is saying, `Drop your personality. Drop that you are a king. Drop this mask, be just human, because through the mask it is impossible for me to approach you.'”
He had never thought about it. But a great silence, and ten thousand people… and he fell spontaneously at the feet of Buddha.
Buddha said, “That's what I have been telling you: drop it. Now sit down. Be just human.Here nobody is an emperor and nobody is a beggar. Here everybody is himself. Just be yourself. This being an emperor can be taken away from you.