There was a king who suddenly developed a desire to overthrow a neighbouring king. This neighbouring king happened to be a friend of his. The first king had the desire to conquer his friend and take all his wealth. So the king spoke to his prime minister and told him of his desire. Then he said, “What is your opinion of it?”
The prime minister said, “He is your friend. How can you even dream of doing this to him?”
The king said, “No, this desire has taken root inside me. I want to be stronger than he is. I want to be mightier than he is. Friendship is one thing, but this goes beyond friendship. If I can surpass him in every way, then I will be really happy and proud.”
The prime minister replied, “What can I say? You are the king. You must make your own decision.”
“Tell me frankly,” said the king, “do you think I will be able to win?”
The prime minister replied, “How can I say whether or not you will be able to win? First of all, O King, you are doing something wrong. Your friend has not done anything to you. He has not antagonised you or insulted you in any way. He seems to be your friend, and you have always claimed to be his friend. How can you treat a friend this way? But if you have the desire to conquer him, then I can only say this: first let us examine the intelligence of his prime minister.”
“What kind of examination do you propose?” asked the king.
The prime minister said, “Let me examine him in a special way. Based on the prime minister’s intelligence, I shall tell you what to do.”
The king agreed to send a messenger with a most expensive gift to the other king, along with a message that was dictated by the prime minister. The prime minister said, “Messenger, go and tell the king that our king will be extremely happy and grateful if he can send two men. One will have to prove that he lives for death, and the other will have to prove that he lives for life.”
“What kind of stupid question is this that I am asking the messenger to take to the other king?” said the king.
The prime minister replied, “Please, please listen to me. Let the messenger deliver the message to your friend and let us see if he abides by your request. If he can fulfil your request, then I will tell you what to do.”
The messenger arrived at the court of the neighbouring king. This king was very, very happy to receive such a beautiful gift from his dear friend. Then the messenger said, “O King, I also have a special message for you. My king requests you to send from your kingdom two men: one who lives only for death and one who lives only for life.”
Now, the prime minister in this kingdom was very smart, very shrewd. He said, “Do not worry, O King. I know the answer.” He immediately summoned a doctor and a priest. The prime minister said to the messenger, “Here are our two representatives: a doctor and a priest. The doctor lives for life. He tries to keep life on earth. Everywhere people are dying, but the doctors try to conquer death. So this is the man who lives for life. He wants people to stay on earth as long as possible. The priest lives for death. When somebody dies, the priest arranges the funeral and performs all the ceremonies. When somebody dies, he has to do his job. So the priest lives for death and the doctor lives for life.”
The priest and the doctor accompanied the messenger back to his own kingdom and he brought them before the king. The prime minister of the first king saw them and said, “Your Majesty, do not try to fight against that king. His prime minister is extremely intelligent. I tell you, if you try to conquer your friend, you will fail because his prime minister is very smart. So do not do it.”
The king took the advice of his prime minister and decided not to try to conquer his friend.
Meanwhile, the same desire entered into the other king. He wished to conquer the first king. Desire does not stay at one place. Like a monkey, it goes from one place to another. Now the second king discussed his desire with his own prime minister, the one who was so smart. This prime minister said, “Let us put the same question to them. You shall send your friend a very expensive gift, and your messenger will beg for the fulfilment of your request. Two men we need: one for life and one for death. But they cannot send the same type of people. They have to send two people from totally different professions.”
This prime minister thought that the other prime minister would not be able to fulfil their request, since the puzzle had already been solved. He did not see how there could be two answers to the same question.
In due time, the messenger from the second king arrived with a most beautiful and expensive gift. Then he delivered his message requesting the first king to send one man who lived for life and one who lived for death.
The first prime minister said, “It is so easy. Send for an undertaker. An undertaker lives for death. When somebody dies, it is his job is to take care of the body.”
Then the first prime minister said, “Now, for life, bring me a spiritual seeker, someone who does very deep meditation. A seeker prays to God all the time for the fulfilment of God’s Will. Here on earth everything is transitory. Even human life is fleeting. But a true spiritual seeker prays for Immortality, for immortal life.”
So the prime minister found a very saintly person and an undertaker, and he sent them both to the other king. The prime minister of the second king said, “O King, this prime minister is very smart. His intelligence has defeated us. I urge you not to fight with that king because we are bound to lose.”
So the two wise prime ministers both advised their respective kings not to fight. Each king gave up the idea of conquering the other one when he heard that defeat was unavoidable.