There was once a prince who had a reputation for indulgence. One day, with the Lord’s grace, the prince came into contact with the Buddha and was accepted on to the path. After he had become a disciple, the prince became a monk and vowed to repent for his past sins.
However, in his zeal, he was rapidly moving to the other extreme. He would take only one meal on alternate days; he would meditate under the hot, unforgiving sun. He walked around naked and did exercises that were torturous to the body.
Over time, this behaviour took its toll. Earlier, the prince was a beautiful man but within six months of this regimen, he became very thin and weathered. One night, the Buddha went to the prince and asked him, “I have heard that when you were a prince you were a great musician and you used to play the sitar. So I have a question for you. If the strings of the sitar are very loose, what happens?”
The prince said, “If the strings are very loose, then no music is possible.”
Then the Buddha asked, “And if the strings are too tight; then what happens?”
The prince replied, “Then too there cannot be any music. The strings must be adjusted in the middle, neither loose nor tight; only then can the divine music flow through the sitar.”
The Buddha then said, “O prince, I have observed you for the last six months. I am here to convey the same message to you. Life is musical only when the strings are neither loose nor tight, but just right in the middle. Although renouncing the world is easy, only a Master knows how to be in the middle. So, be the master of your life and set the strings in the middle in whatever you do.”