Once there were two neighbouring kings. They were friends, but at the same time there was considerable rivalry between the two. One day one of the kings went to visit the other. The host king was much more powerful and important than his guest. His army was much larger and, as a result, he was much wealthier. He was not at all hostile to his guest, but in the back of his mind there was always the fear that one day this neighbouring king might surpass him in wealth. The poorer king, on the other hand, felt that his was a hopeless case. It seemed that he would never be able to match the splendour of his friend’s palace or the strength of his army. He was jealous of his friend, but he knew that he could never equal him, let alone defeat him.
The host king received his friend with utmost courtesy and the two sat down to talk. The guest said, “You are my true friend. You have made me feel so welcome here in your palace. Now may I ask you a serious question?”
The host king answered, “Any question that you have, whether it is serious or not, I will try to answer. We are friends, so it is natural for us to help each other.”
“Tell me,” said the guest, “how did you acquire such a huge army? You have so many soldiers, elephants and weapons. How did you become so powerful?”
“You do not know?” said the host. “Tell me, have you ever seen a hungry dog following its master?”
“I have not, but I can easily imagine it,” his guest replied.
The wealthy king continued, “The secret is that if you keep your dog hungry, the dog will follow you. I keep my army hungry, so they all follow me. I do not give them a proper salary, proper nourishment or proper uniforms, so they all follow me. They feel they will eventually get a high salary, good food and all kinds of benefits, so they stay with me. They want to get a promotion. That is my trick!”
The poorer king listened very thoughtfully and did not make any further comment. He spent the night at his friend’s palace and returned home the next day. On the way back to his kingdom, what should he see but a dog following its master! The king got down from his horse and started walking behind the dog and its master. After some time the king felt very sorry for the dog, so he gave it a large piece of bread.
O God, as soon as the dog had devoured the bread, it started following the king, and not its real owner! The king gave the dog a few more pieces of bread, and the dog followed him all the way back to the palace. The king immediately got the point.
The next day, the king asked his spies to go to the army of his friend and give each soldier a very large amount of money on his behalf. Lo and behold, the soldiers all decided to join the army of this generous king. In a few months’ time, the army of the poorer king became so strong that he was able to attack the neighbouring king and defeat him badly.
When the wealthy king saw the attacking army, he said to his opponent, “These are my own soldiers! How ungrateful they are! They have betrayed me to fight on your side. What has made them go against me?”
Then he began to curse the so-called poorer king. “You are such a rogue! In the name of friendship I invited you here a few months ago, and now you have taken away all my soldiers. How could you do such a thing?”
“You yourself taught me,” came the answer.
“I taught you?”
“Yes. You told me the story of the hungry dog. You said that if you keep a dog hungry, it will always follow you with the hope of getting something to eat. On my way home from your palace, I saw a dog following its master and I tested your theory. I gave the dog a piece of bread and then it started following me. In the same way, you were not giving a sufficient salary to your army. I gave them money and now they all have become loyal to me. I learned this lesson from you, so you cannot blame me at all!”
Indefinitely we cannot torture any living creature, whether it is a little dog or a human being. If we do so, we are bound to meet with the consequences eventually, for cleverness and unkindness are no match for wisdom-light and justice-power.