There was a very distinguished family of lawyers: a grandfather, his son and his grandson. The grandfather founded the practice and he taught his son how to be a great lawyer. Now this son was teaching his own son how to become a great lawyer.
Previously the grandfather had said to his son, “The most important thing is to get money by hook or by crook. Always tell the client that the case is very easy to deal with, and you have dealt with infinitely more serious cases, so his particular case is nothing, nothing, nothing. Always show utmost confidence. Then if you lose, you will say, ‘What could I do? I tried very hard, very hard. I thought it would be very easy, but there were some hidden complications.’”
The son said, “If the case is really complicated, if it is very serious, how am I going to tell my client lies?”
The grandfather said, “Then you are not meant for this profession. Do you want to become a lawyer without telling lies? My only advice is to give up this profession and do something else.”
The son quickly said, “I will try my best to tell a few lies, but I cannot promise to tell lies all the time if I take up a case.”
Now, with your kind permission, I would like to digress from the story a little at this point.
My maternal uncle, my mother’s eldest brother, was a lawyer. He wrote to Sri Aurobindo and said, “Is there any day when I do not tell lies in my profession? What can I do now? I want to practise the spiritual life. Please advise me.”
Sri Aurobindo wrote back, “You know how many lies you tell every day. Try to decrease the number. Your yoga will be to decrease the number of lies that you tell. Then when you feel really miserable that you are telling even one lie, I advise you to give up the profession.”
The barrister who saved Sri Aurobindo’s life, C.R. Das, was deeply involved in politics. Sri Aurobindo was also in the political sphere. Then Sri Aurobindo gave up politics and entered into the spiritual life. This barrister remained very, very close to Sri Aurobindo. There came a time when he wanted to follow Sri Aurobindo and practise spirituality. Sri Aurobindo wrote to him, “If you sincerely want God, if you really want to practise spirituality seriously, then you have to change your profession. To be a lawyer, to be involved in politics and to be a real seeker — these three things do not go together.”
To come back to my story, here the son told the grandfather that he would try his best to tell a few lies. In the course of time, the grandson was about to obtain his legal qualifications. Then his father began giving him some advice based on his own experience. He said, “You do not have to tell all lies, but charge a very high fee. If others ask for one thousand rupees, you should ask for four thousand. Everybody wants to win the case. Who does not want to win the case? So you have to give them hope. Do not promise anything, but give them very strong hope that you will be able to win the case. And do not forget to charge a very high fee.”
The grandson said, “All right. Since you and my grandfather are so successful, I will maintain the family tradition and charge high fees.”
The son passed all his examinations. He had become a lawyer. He was now going into practice, and he was eager to apply his father’s advice. He was fully prepared to charge a high fee. The very first day he came to his office with such hope that there would be some clients. No sooner had he entered into his office than somebody came in. He told the man, “Please take a seat.”
Then he lifted up the phone and started screaming as if to a client, “How many times do I have to tell you? I am not meant for you. I am not going to take your case. I will not budge an inch from ten thousand rupees. You can go to another lawyer if that is how you feel. There are so many. You say that my fee is too high, but do you want to win the case or not? Now do not bother me any more!”
The young lawyer put the receiver back on the hook. Then he said to the man, “Now, please tell me, how can I help you? What do you need?”
The man said, “I do not have any particular need. I am just here to connect the phone.”