The depth of gratitude and the height of ingratitude

The King wanted to see two creatures: the most ungrateful and the most grateful beings on earth. So he asked his favourite minister to bring before him, on the following morning, the most ungrateful creature and the most grateful creature on earth.

The poor minister was thrown into a sea of doubt and worry. Whom should he select? The minister had never lost in any of his little games with the King, but if he could not bring these two creatures to the palace the next day, the King would be terribly disappointed. Also, everybody would know that at last the minister had been beaten in the game, and perhaps the King would appoint somebody else to take his place. The minister thought and thought, and at last he decided whom he would take to the King.

The following day he asked his son-in-law to come with him to the palace, and he also brought his own dog. When he entered the King’s presence with his dog, the King became angry. “You fool,” he shouted, “why do you bring your dog into my palace?”

“Please wait, your Majesty,” said the minister.

“I told you to bring me the most grateful and the most ungrateful beings on earth,” said the King. “I see only one person and this dog. Now, how are you going to fulfil the wish I expressed yesterday?”

“Your Majesty, this is my son-in-law,” explained the minister. “No matter what I give him — thousands of rupees, clothes, furniture, anything — he is never grateful. On the contrary, he always feels that he deserves more. He feels that he has done me the greatest possible favour by marrying my daughter. All sons-in-law think that when they marry someone’s daughter they are doing him a tremendous favour, so naturally they deserve everything from him. So you see, I have given him my dearest daughter, my money, my house, my prestige, everything, and still he is not satisfied. He will never be grateful.

“Now look at this dog. I give the dog practically nothing — just a little food (and sometimes I even forget to give him that) and a floor to sleep on. But how grateful, how faithful, how devoted he is. All the time he stays in front of my door, eager to protect me. If somebody wanted to commit a theft or hurt me, he would bark and bite, and chase the culprit away. All dogs are like this. Give them a piece of bread and they are ready to die for you. Look at the gratitude of the dog. This is the difference between the most ungrateful being and the most grateful being.”

Then the King cried, “Why should we keep this ungrateful being on earth? Your son-in-law must be killed immediately. All ungrateful persons should be killed!”

But the minister quickly responded, “Why only my son-in-law? If my son-in-law must be killed, then all sons-in-law must be killed, for they are all ungrateful to almost the same extent.”

“Yes,” agreed the King,” all sons-in-law have to be killed. Since all sons-in-law fall into the same category, they all have to be killed!”

The King was about to order all sons-in-law to be brought to the palace and executed when the minister said, “Wait, your Majesty.”

“Why?” asked the King.

“You are also somebody’s son-in-law,” said the minister. “Why, the Queen’s father is living right here in the palace. That means you also have to be killed.”

At this, the King changed his mind, and nobody was killed.

Spiritual comments

Now who is grateful and who is ungrateful in the spiritual life? The most grateful person is he who feels that the Master has accepted him out of his infinite bounty, not that he deserves the Master’s kindness and compassion. Gratitude will flow in your life only when you see that you do not really deserve your Master’s blessings. If you feel that you do not even deserve to be his disciple, that you are not even in the world of aspiration, but he is constantly bringing you to the Light — then your gratitude will come forward. If you feel that you are really in darkness, and that the Master has brought you to the Light even before you have cried for it, then only can you have real gratitude.

This feeling is not false modesty. Far from it. You people are under the impression that you came to the Centre, and that is why I saw you. But I wish to disagree. The Divine in me, the Supreme in me, brought you to the Centre. He who chooses God has already been chosen by God. God here means the Divine in me. He who chooses the Divinity inside me has to feel that long ago I chose him. Why did you come to me? Just because one of my inner beings or the Supreme in me had already kindled the flame of aspiration in you. I came and knocked at your heart’s door. That is why you came to me. If I had not, there are many schools that you might have gone to. When you feel that I chose you before you even dared to think of my existence on earth, then only will gratitude come into your life. If you think that you came to me and therefore you don’t have to feel gratitude, it is not true.

Ungrateful persons are those who deliberately think that they are not the chosen children of their Master. Everybody is chosen; everybody must feel that he has to be grateful. If a person thinks, “No, the Master thinks only about others. He has no time to think of me,” he is sadly mistaken. My Father’s Day message this year is, “I shall not fail you if you can dare to think that I care for you.” This is my Father’s Day message to each and every disciple of mine: I shall not fail you if you can dare to think that I care for you.

If any disciple of mine thinks that I do not care for him, he is the most ungrateful person on earth. If I do not care for you, then why did I enter into your heart and bring you into my boat, to my door, into my inner house, into my very room? Just because I do care for you, I brought you into my heart’s room. And just because I care for you, you are still in my boat. If I did not care for you, you would not be here. If you think that I don’t care for you, it means that you are cherishing your own self-imposed ignorance.

I shall not fail you if you can dare to think that I care for you. Ungrateful persons are those who constantly cherish the idea that I do not care for them at all. And grateful persons are those who feel that I went to them first, that I entered into them and brought them into me so that they could have Light.