Swami Vivekananda often told this story…
In ancient times, there was a most rare and precious jewel, renowned throughout all the lands. It had many owners over the years: it was traded for great riches; bestowed as a highest reward; even battles were fought over its possession. In time, this jewel came universally to be regarded as the most precious object in all existence.
The jewel was captured by a particular king, who fancied himself as ruler over all. He kept the jewel under guard in his palace.
Other kings now feared for their own domains, and conspired to obtain the jewel for themselves. Two faraway kingdoms dispatched their best secret service agents to capture the jewel by any means necessary.
The king’s secret police uncovered both conspiracies. Both special agents were arrested and locked in a cell inside the palace.
It happened that the jewel was being kept in the very next room to the spies’ cell. One of the spies was aware of the jewel’s whereabouts, and knew it was next door: the other had no idea.
That night one of the spies slept soundly, while the other lay wide awake.
Which one slept well, and which had no sleep?
The one who knew not the jewel’s whereabouts slept well; he who knew it was next door could not sleep, obsessed with gaining the treasure.
We humans are as these two thieves. Those who are oblivious to the soul within them, are content to sleep soundly in ignorance, enjoying the attachment of earthly pleasures: those who have become aware that the most precious treasure of the universe – our soul – is tantalisingly closer than our own breath, yet veiled – these spiritually awakened seekers are consumed with a unique torment, and cannot rest until the soul is won.