The Parable of the Impoverished Son From the Lotus Sutra Chapter 4, Belief and Understanding
Once a boy ran away from home and wandered for many years becoming more and more poor and confused.
The boy’s father loved his son very much, but had no idea where to find him. As time went on, the father became very rich.
Fifty years passed. One day, the son showed up at his father’s estate. He did not know whose grand home this was, but wondered if he could find a job there. The father recognized his son, and set messengers to greet him. The father was overjoyed that his son had returned.
But the son misunderstood. He thought the messengers were trying to arrest him for doing something wrong.
The father saw his son’s fear and confusion. He realized his son was not ready to accept the truth, so he told the messengers to leave his son alone.
Later the father had some of his servants dress in rags. He had these servants go to his son and offer him a job shoveling excrement. The son had been living so poorly for so long, he saw this job as a wonderful
Over the years, the father showed an interest in his son. He praised him, increasing his pay, and gave him better jobs. But he never told him his true identity.
After twenty years, the father was old and near death. By then the son was in charge of all of the wealthy man’s business. The son had become a responsible but humble man.
Finally, just before his death, the father gathered all of his friends and all the powerful people of the city to his bedside. He revealed then the true identity of his son. The son inherited all of the wealth.