The king seeks wise advice

There was a king who had a very wise minister. This minister had been advising the king for many, many years and he was now quite advanced in age. When the minister felt that his death was approaching, he said to the king, “I shall not be able to serve you much longer. I am deeply concerned about who will advise you when I die. I have given the matter much thought and I would like to request you to bring three young men to the court after my passing. Each one should be wise. After observing these three young men for a while, please appoint one of them to take my place as your chief minister.”

Soon afterwards, the old minister did pass away. The king badly needed to find a replacement for him. Remembering the old minister’s advice, the king sent for three very wise young men. They came from various parts of the kingdom. When they arrived, the king said to them, “I have a serious problem and I would like you to advise me what course of action I should follow. There are two neighbouring kings who are always quarrelling and fighting. One of them is definitely much stronger than the other in terms of his wealth, his army and the size of his kingdom. But the weaker king compensates by holding many spectacular celebrations. The problem is that both of them want to have me as their friend, their ally. Each one has written to me that he will be so glad if he can have me as his friend. Now what should I do?”

One of the young men immediately answered, “O King, the answer is so easy! You should take the side of the stronger one. If anything happens to you, if anybody attacks you, then the stronger one will help you.”

The king listened to this advice in silence and then asked the second candidate, “What do you recommend in this case?”

The second one said, “O King, he is wrong! People who are strong and rich cannot be trusted. Quite often their character is not good at all. When you first become their friend, they promise that they will help you if you find yourself in unfortunate circumstances. But this kind of person never actually comes to your rescue. When you are in need, the people who are wealthy and powerful always invent excuses. They say they have no time to help you or they have something more important to do. My advice is not to go to the stronger king. Offer your friendship to the weaker one. Those who are weaker usually have good hearts.”

Once again, the king did not pass any comment on the advice that had been offered to him. Finally he asked the third young man, “Where do you stand? Are you in favour of my becoming friends with the stronger king or the weaker one?”

This young man said, “O King, this is my advice: do not go to anyone, good or bad, weak or strong. Now both of these kings want your help and friendship, but I feel that you should not go to either one.”

“Then what should I do?” asked the king. “I do not want to remain all alone, without any friends.”

The third candidate continued, “You will not remain alone for long. Tell both these kings that you will become their friend on the condition that they themselves become friends first. If they resolve their differences, if they stop fighting and become friends, then only will you become their friend. Otherwise, if you choose to become friends with the stronger one, he may fool you. When you need his friendship, at that very moment he may desert you. And if you make friends with the weaker one, he will not have the capacity to help you, even though he may have a good heart. So the best thing is not to choose either one, but to encourage them to become friends first. If they become friends, then you do not have to worry. The three of you will be peaceful neighbours.”

As soon as he heard this advice, the king knew that he had found a worthy replacement for his old minister. He said to this young man, “You are the right one!”

From:Sri Chinmoy,Amusement I enjoy, enlightenment I study, part 7, Agni Press, 1998
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