There was once a very good king. Near his palace there lived a sage. This sage was a man of few words. He would only meditate and meditate at the foot of a tree. The king felt that this sage was extremely sincere, so the king used to send him fruits and other kinds of food on a daily basis. One of his servants used to go and place the king's offerings before the sage, and once a day the sage used to eat. The king was very pleased that in the evening of his life he was doing something good by meeting with the earthly needs of the sage.
Now this sage was always occupied with his prayer and meditation. He did not do anything else. He only prayed to God and meditated to receive enlightenment. He was very simple, sincere and innocent. There were some people who were extremely jealous of him. They felt that he was an idle fellow, that he did not do anything. They could not understand why the king had to send food for him. But they did not dare to complain to the king. They only harboured their jealousy inwardly. The prince, on the other hand, was openly against the sage. The prince would say to all and sundry, "He is an idle fellow; he does absolutely nothing. I do not know why Father likes him. When the time comes and I become the king, the first thing I will do is command that food is not sent for him. Let him perish."
In the course of time, the king died. Then the prince was so happy that he did not have to send food to the sage. Since the prince was not sending food, the old sage used to go out once a day and beg for a little food from the villagers. Many times he received next to nothing. When the new king came to hear that the sage was begging for food, he said, "I will punish him." He went to the sage, who was meditating beneath the tree, and said, "Tell me, why do you waste your time here? I have never seen such an idle fellow as you. You just walk a short distance and beg for food once a day. Then you eat it here. The rest of the day you do nothing, nothing, nothing! I have never seen anybody as idle as you in my entire kingdom. So tell me, why do you not go to some other place?"
The sage replied, "Please wait a little, O King, and I will answer your question. Kindly take a seat. Forgive me, I do not have a proper chair. If you do not mind, could you please sit on the ground? I am such a poor man."
The king said, "No, I am not going to sit. Just answer my question! Otherwise, I shall punish you."
The sage said, "Can you not wait a little longer? I will answer your question in due course."
In the meantime, the new king had become very restless. He was boiling over with anger. The sage said, "Now you can see which is more difficult, to remain calm and quiet or to be like you. In the space of half an hour you have become so restless. You are saying that I am idle, that I do nothing. I tell you, I do my inner work. I sit here calmly and quietly, and I pray to God. You do your work, the things that you are supposed to do for your kingdom. But my work you cannot do. Can you sit here for hours and hours? No, you cannot remain quiet even for ten minutes. So which is more difficult, your work or mine?"
The king said, "You are only seeing one half of the picture. Let me see you try to rule the kingdom. I am sure you will not be able to do it."
The sage said, "But I am not challenging you, O King. You are challenging me by saying that I am doing nothing. So I am asking you to do what I am doing. I know I cannot govern the country. That is not possible for me. But you are challenging me. You are saying that I am wasting my time, that I am useless to your kingdom. Whether you believe it or not, I say that I am doing my inner work. I am praying to God. See if you can succeed in this kind of work."
Then the king fell at the feet of the sage and said, "What you have said is absolutely true, O sage. I cannot keep my mind quiet even for a fleeting second. Worries, anxieties, problems and responsibilities plague me day in and day out. In your case, you do not have any."
The sage said, "My only responsibility is to pray to God, to surrender to Him. I do not have anything in this world. I have renounced everything. But my life I am surrendering to God through my prayers and meditations."
Then the king said, "Please forgive me and bless me. I shall not harass you any more, and I shall send food for you every day as my father used to do. Something more, I shall come to you quite often to seek advice from you about my inner life and my outer life. You shall guide me in ruling my kingdom."