The Emperor's three dolls3

There was once a king who had a very, very wise minister.

Everybody used to admire the minister’s wisdom. This king was good friends with a particular emperor. One day the emperor gave three dolls to the king and said to him, “I will be very happy if either your minister or anybody else can tell me which is the first class doll, which is second class and which is third class.”

The king thanked the emperor profusely, “O Emperor, I am all gratitude for your gifts. I shall always cherish our friendship, and I shall gladly ask the members of my court and my kingdom to look at these dolls.”

The following day the king invited all his very intelligent friends and members of the court to see the dolls. All of them looked at the three dolls, and some of them held them and examined them in every possible way. But most of them said, “O King, we are sorry. All three dolls look exactly the same to us. Either they are all first class, or all second class or all third class; it is hard to tell. But we can only say that whatever class they belong to, they all belong to the same one.”

“This answer is not satisfactory,” said the king. Then he turned to his wise minister and asked, “Why are you remaining silent? You are the wisest of all. Why are you not saying anything about these dolls?”

“What do I know about dolls?” replied the minister.

“Please,” pleaded the king, “you must help me. If you do not come up with a satisfactory answer, what will the Emperor say about my kingdom? He will think that we have no intelligent people here.”

The minister finally agreed to look at the dolls. “Let me take them home and examine them.”

The king said, “Take them and keep them for several days so that you can find the answer. Otherwise, I will be really embarrassed.”

The minister took home the dolls. He noticed that although the dolls looked exactly alike, there were some small differences. One doll had one hole in one of its ears. Another had two holes, one in each ear. And the third doll had one hole in one of its ears and another hole in its mouth.

“Now I know the answer,” cried the minister. “The first class doll is the one that has only one hole in its ear. This doll hears with a sympathetic ear, and then keeps whatever it hears to itself. There is no way for what it hears to come out. This doll represents very good people. When these kinds of people hear something, they keep it to themselves. This world is full of corruption and they don’t want to spread gossip.

“The second doll is also silent, but whatever it hears goes in one ear and out the other. It does not keep any information to itself. Regardless of whether it hears good and soulful things or undivine things, the information just passes through one ear and out the other. These people are indifferent to the world situation.

“The third one has the hole in one ear and another hole in the mouth. As soon as it hears anything, immediately through its foul mouth it tells the whole world.

“So, the first doll remains silent, because it knows that the world is full of corruption and it does not want to add to the world’s ignorance. The second doll is indifferent. Whatever it hears immediately goes out the other ear. And the third doll immediately tells the whole world everything with its foul tongue. This is the answer that my King needs for his Emperor friend.”

The following day the minister told the king his answer, and this answer was sent to the emperor. The emperor said, “The minister is absolutely right. Now I see that the King indeed has some intelligent people in his kingdom.” And the king gave the minister a very good reward for his divine wisdom.

GIM 103. 27 January 1979