The Emperor’s 3 Questions Meditation Method - Ajahn Brahm


Written 7 years before he died:

" “The Three Questions " is a 1903 short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) as part of the collection What Men Live By, and Other Tales . The story takes the form of a parable, and it concerns a king who wants to find the answers to what he considers the three most important questions in life.”


“It was only towards the end of his life, during the period of his spiritual crisis, that Tolstoy began a deeper engagement with the East. Several factors coincided to produce this renewed interest. As stated, Tolstoy’s ethical and religious foundations underwent a dramatic transformation during the 1870’s and 1880’s. Tolstoy sought answers to his personal moral struggles in ancient religious teachings and philosophy, including texts from India (Shifman 22). Tolstoy’s predisposition to reject wealth, capitalism, and earthly pleasures meant that he found a sympathetic voice in the teachings of the Buddha, whose movement began out of a progressive rejection of the excesses of Brahmanism.”

—" From East to East: concepts of the vipassana tradition in Tolstoy’s art"

• The point of the story as answered by the hermit is not the three questions, but that your own life experience can give the answers if you are able to interpret it, but that it takes patience:

““But you have already been answered,” said the hermit, squatting on his thin
calves and looking up at the king who stood before him.”

This investigation of the results of one’s own actions is nothing less than the investigation carried out by the Buddha-to-be described in Majjhima Nikaya 19.

Text of “The Three Questions”:

“Karma,” 1902, Tolstoy: