The king’s ambassadors

A king needed ambassadors for two different countries. So the minister found two well-educated men and brought them to the king for his approval. The king was very, very pleased with the minister’s choices, and he confirmed their appointments. The king said to one ambassador, “I am sending you to this particular country. Although the people there are under my rule, I want to strengthen my friendship with them. I want them to be more loyal to me. I wish you to strengthen our relationship.”

The king gave the ambassador a very nice present to give to the head of that particular small country. Then he gave identical instructions to the second ambassador and also entrusted him with a very expensive gift to give to the king of the second country. The king said to both of them, “Once you reach your destination, do not stay there for more than two days. After two days I want both of you to return. Give the gift and come back.”

The two ambassadors left the palace to fulfil their commissions. One of them covered some distance, and then he turned back. When he came before the king, the king asked, “What happened? Why did you not go?”

The ambassador said, “O King, you have to forgive me. As I was travelling to that country, some ideas entered into me. You told me that you are infinitely more powerful than that ruler, and you want to strengthen your friendship. If you are so strong, what kind of friendship do you need with that country? Since they are already devoted to you, why do you have to strengthen your friendship? I am afraid they will misunderstand you when I go and tell the king that you want to strengthen your friendship. He will be shocked. He is already like your slave. So why do you have to strengthen your friendship? He will never expect your friendship. He will only expect commands from you. So I have come back to you in case you want to change your opinion.”

The king said, “Change my opinion? I gave you an order and you did not obey me. What right do you have to question my orders? I do not approve of your disobedience, but before I take any action, let me wait and see how the other one fares.”

Two days passed by and still the second ambassador had not come back. When he gave the expensive gift to the king of the neighbouring country, the king was so happy that he begged the ambassador to stay a few days more. The ambassador was enjoying himself immensely. He was given almost a royal reception. With difficulty, he took his leave after four days and returned to his own kingdom.

When this second ambassador appeared before the king, the king asked, “What happened?”

The ambassador replied, “O King, I have strengthened your friendship with that ruler immeasurably. He was so pleased, so happy. He treated me like another king, and he begged me to stay there because you gave him such an expensive gift. So I stayed there an extra four days.”

The king became furious. He said, “I need an ambassador like the first one. On the one hand, ambassadors are bound to listen to the commands of the king. On the other hand, if they feel that something the king has said on the spur of the moment is unwise, then it is their supreme duty to bring it to the notice of the king. That ambassador did the right thing by returning to the palace. I am so superior to the rulers of those countries. Why do I have to strengthen my friendship with them? I do not need it. Did I not tell you to come back in two days’ time? You stayed there an extra four days! This is how you listen to my command?”

The king dismissed the ambassador who lingered and enjoyed himself in the neighbouring country. Then the king said to the entire court, “We kings give orders to our ambassadors, but they can also give us advice on occasion and we shall consider it. After weighing the pros and cons, we shall either accept the advice or not. In this instance, I fully accept the advice of my first ambassador. That is the kind of ambassador I need.”

From: Sri Chinmoy, Life’s bleeding tears and flying smiles, part 6 - , Agni Press, 2001
Sourced from http://www.srichinmoylibrary.com/lts-83