Amusement I enjoy, enlightenment I study, part 2

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The disadvantages of desire-fulfilment

Once there was a great singer who had been performing in public for many years. Unfortunately, all of a sudden he lost his hearing. At first he felt miserable, because he thought he would no longer be able to continue his profession, but he soon found, to his surprise, that he could still maintain the same high standard when performing.

The singer prayed and prayed to get his hearing back. One night, after quite a few years, a luminous being appeared to him. The being was able to speak without using words. It said, “Do you want to regain your hearing?”

The singer said, “Oh, yes! For the last ten years I have not been able to hear at all, but before that I could hear perfectly. When I was able to hear, some members of the audience would criticise my singing and some would appreciate it. On the whole, it seemed to me that more people appreciated me than criticised me. Right now, although I cannot hear their opinions, I feel that my audience is much more critical. How I wish I could have my hearing back!”

The luminous being said, “If you want to get back your hearing, I have the power to restore it to you, but I cannot promise that people will appreciate you more.” The luminous being blessed the singer, and right then and there he got back his hearing.

Early the next morning, the singer was rudely awakened by the sound of loud voices. His wife and their two sons were having a serious altercation. The poor singer found that his morning peace was completely shattered. That very evening he was supposed to give a most important performance. For the rest of the day he practised, and then he went to give his concert. During the performance everything seemed to be normal, but at the end there was no applause. Not even one person clapped!

The singer was extremely puzzled. He said to himself, “What is this? When I was deaf I could not hear the applause, but I could see that people were clapping. Now I can hear, but I am experiencing the same silence!”

The audience did not know that the famous singer was no longer deaf, and they were all wondering why his singing had changed overnight. They said to each other, “My God! He has lost his singing capacity completely. What a wonderful singer he was in the past! Recently also he sang well, but tonight’s performance was simply abominable!” The audience members were so sad and disappointed that they did not clap at all for the singer.

Unavoidably, the singer heard the complaints of his listeners, and he went home that night completely downhearted. He said to his wife and children, “Now I have come to realise that when I lost my hearing, it was a great blessing. I have had my hearing back for only one day, and already I am deeply regretting it. Early in the morning I was forced to listen to the sound of my own family quarrelling and fighting. And this evening’s performance went so badly that the entire audience remained silent after my performance.”

For a few moments the singer remained silent. Then he continued, “O God, everything that You do for us is for our own good. I have learned my lesson. Now please take my hearing back! I do not want to hear anymore. One day is enough! I do not want to hear unkind and undivine things about others and I do not want to hear negative things about myself. When I was deaf, I was happy in my own world. I do not want to hear anything! O Lord, do come and take my hearing back!”

But, alas, God did not come to his rescue. The poor singer was compelled to listen to constant criticism. Ultimately he was forced to abandon his singing career because everybody said that he had lost all his capacity.

When this singer started his journey, it was full of promise. Even after he had lost his hearing, his achievement was not adversely affected. On the contrary, it became more and more glorious. Then, when the singer got back his hearing at a ripe old age, he became utterly miserable. His forward march took an about-face. Why? It was all because of his desire-prayers. For years and years he prayed to God to give him back his hearing, and eventually God fulfilled his desire. When God fulfils our desires after our repeated requests, sometimes it is to our greatest disadvantage!

The city of Lavanya Puri

Many years ago there was a city named Lavanya Puri. In that city people lived very, very happily. They were kind and courteous to one another; their businesses prospered and in every way they were making progress. The residents of other cities used to appreciate and admire Lavanya Puri and try to model their cities along the same lines.

God knows how or why, but after some time it happened that twenty hooligans from a distant tribe decided to enter Lavanya Puri and create trouble. At night these hooligans would destroy stores and plunder houses. They would attack and beat the men and torture the women. This gang quickly became notorious. Unfortunately, nobody was able to catch them and prevent them from doing their undivine deeds.

Eventually the Mayor of the city imposed a curfew. During the day everybody was allowed to move around freely, but after sunset nobody could come out of their house. The Mayor said to the people, “We can see that these hooligans are torturing us ruthlessly in so many ways during the evening. Therefore, it is wiser to stay at home with our families at night. Perhaps these hooligans will leave our city if everyone is home at night.”

So the curfew was enforced and nobody could venture out at night. People were unable to visit the homes of their relatives; they could not go out to eat; they could not go to the temple with offerings. All activities were stopped. One by one, businesses began to fail. The restrictions of the curfew were causing tremendous suffering, but there did not seem to be any alternative. On the one hand, the citizens were terrified of the hooligans; on the other hand, they were disturbed because they could not carry out their normal evening functions.

When the Governor of the province came to know about the situation in Lavanya Puri, he wrote a polite letter to the Mayor. He said, “I congratulate you on the curfew. You have done very well. People are not suffering anymore from unwarranted attacks. But now I wish to offer you another type of wisdom, a higher wisdom. Just because of twenty criminals, the whole city is being forced to suffer unbelievably. Why should the good citizens of your community be the ones to suffer? They are innocent. It is the bad people, the intruders, who should be made to suffer. I am advising you to change your policy. Now, it is time to be very strict. Kindly make an announcement that from now on if any hooligans appear, they will immediately be arrested and put into jail, and eventually they will be hanged for the crimes that they have committed.

“Let all the citizens come out of their houses at night and move around as usual. If anybody sees those hooligans in the streets, they should report the news to you immediately so that the police can come and arrest them. Everybody should be on the lookout. Now let us see if those hooligans will dare to do their work!”

The Mayor respectfully accepted the advice of the Governor and everything returned to normal. In fact, thousands of people came out into the streets that very night in the hope of catching the hooligans. When the hooligans saw that there was no possibility of continuing to plunder and steal from the citizens of Lavanya Puri without being caught and hanged, they lost all their courage. As soon as the citizens went home to sleep, the hooligans escaped as fast as their legs could carry them.

The boatman's way of teaching

There was a boatman who was very, very kind. Every day he used to ferry passengers across the river in his boat. Everybody liked him and they all enjoyed the time they spent on his boat crossing from one shore to the other.

One day a young man came up to the boatman and said, “I would like to be your apprentice. I wish to learn from you the skills needed to be a boatman. You are so kindhearted. Will you please teach me?”

The boatman said, “I am more than happy to teach you. Now, if you sincerely want to learn how to be a boatman, the first thing you will need is patience. So many passengers cross the river every day. Some will smoke, some will talk about undivine things, some will have animals or baskets of vegetables. There are many things that can go wrong, so you have to be very careful. You have to have patience.”

The young man listened to everything the boatman said and watched as the boatman began to get his boat ready for the day. Two or three minutes later the boatman said, “If you really want to help me, you will need patience. So many people smoke, so many people say undivine things, so many have huge bundles or goats with them. You have to be very, very careful at every moment. Today you can just watch me. Later I will definitely be able to teach you.”

After a few more minutes the boatman started the same lecture all over again. “You have to be so careful! People may smoke or say undivine things. They may be carrying heavy loads. You will need so much patience.”

Finally the young man said, “I have heard all this, old man! Three times you have told me exactly the same thing. Do you think I am deaf? Do you think I am an idiot? For God’s sake, when are you going to get on with the business of teaching me how to operate the boat?”

The kindhearted boatman looked at the young man sadly and said, “Look, I have only repeated my advice three times, and you have already lost your patience. With this level of patience, do you think that you will make a good boatman? I am sorry, I do not want you to work for me.”

The young man fell at the feet of the boatman and said, “Forgive me, please forgive me! You are right! You are right! Will you not give me a second chance?”

The boatman said, “No, I cannot take you back today. In a few weeks you can come back. When you return I will tell you exactly the same thing, but perhaps by that time you will have learned some patience. God knows how many times you will have to listen to my lecture, but if you succeed, then I shall take you as my apprentice.”

The young man agreed to the boatman’s conditions. He said, “The next time I come, please examine me again. I will try my best to pass your examination.”

A few weeks passed and one morning the young man appeared at the bank of the river again. The boatman was so happy to see him. This time the old man was inspired to give his lecture at least twenty times. Each time the young man listened patiently and said, “I am so happy and grateful that you are advising me. I really want to become an excellent boatman like you.”

At the end of the day the old man said, “Now you have passed your examination. I shall keep you as my apprentice. You may come back tomorrow, and then I shall begin teaching you how to operate the boat.”

The way to the highest Heaven

There once was a group of spiritual seekers who used to meet together to pray and meditate. They were all well advanced along the path to God-realisation. They all had one aim in common and that was to enter the highest Heaven after leaving the body. So they were praying and praying to God to be allowed to dwell in the highest Heaven.

One day the seeker who was the most advanced said to the others, “Let me enter into deep meditation and see how we will be able to go to the highest Heaven. Perhaps I will receive an inner message that will help us make faster progress.”

So this seeker entered deep within to try to discover the shortest road to his goal. All at once he saw a beautiful goddess in front of him. He bowed to the goddess and said, “I am searching for the way to reach the highest Heaven. My friends and I have been praying and meditating for so many years. When we die, we would like to enter the highest Heaven. Is there any special passage which is extremely fast?”

The goddess gave the seeker a mantra and told him to repeat this particular verse many times. Then she said, “Now go and teach this sloka to your friends. Let them learn it from you and practise it every day. I do not want you to go alone to the highest Heaven.”

When the seeker had finished his meditation, he taught his friends the mantra and together they repeated it countless times. They were all extremely pleased with the mantra and they begged the advanced seeker to tell them how he came by it. But the seeker remained silent, so everybody concluded that he had received it from within and did not want to take the credit. They told him, “You are so modest, so kind. We feel that since you are more advanced than we are, your own soul gave you this message. That is why you are reluctant to tell us. Your humility is preventing you.” Still the seeker just kept quiet.

Many years passed. One evening the seekers were all meditating together when the same goddess appeared. This time everybody could see her. She said, “You have all prayed and meditated here on earth for many long years. Now the time has come for you to leave your physical existence behind and go to Heaven. I have come to show you the way.”

The goddess went to each seeker in turn and showed that person the way to Heaven. At last she came to the advanced seeker. But instead of showing him Heaven’s door, she said, “You are so ungrateful! I will not allow you to go with your friends. Why did you not tell them that I gave you the mantra? You allowed them to believe that you received it from deep within yourself. You became so full of your own self-importance!”

Suddenly the goddess disappeared. The advanced seeker found that he could not go to the highest Heaven, although all his friends had gone there. Alas, he was forced to start all over again, chanting the mantra that the goddess had taught him long, long ago.

The welcome song

A new Governor came to a particular state. He was very kind, good and learned. The citizens of the state held a ceremony to welcome the new Governor and sang a song highly appreciating him. One particular singer, the leader of the choir, sang the song again and again, and the Governor was extremely pleased. The citizens proudly told him, “We have performed this song in honour of your appointment. It was composed by our leader. We are deeply honoured that we have been able to sing it for you.”

The following day the Governor sent for the leader of the choir, and the singer hurried to the Governor’s office. The Governor said to him, “I understand that you composed the song which was sung yesterday in my honour. I would like to offer you some money as a gift. I was so moved by your song.”

The singer asked, “How much money would you like to give?”

The Governor mentioned a certain amount and the singer said, “It is not worthwhile to take money from you.”

The Governor increased the amount, but still the singer said, “It is not worthwhile.”

Finally the Governor said, “Kindly tell me how much you want. I shall gladly give you the full amount. By the way, I would be so pleased and happy if you could sing the song one more time.”

The singer said, “All right, I shall sing the song for you once more.”

He sang the special song of welcome very soulfully and beautifully. The Governor was deeply pleased. Again he said to the singer, “Please tell me how much money I should give you. This song was composed specially for me and I would like to show my gratitude in a practical way.”

Then the singer was compelled to tell the Governor the truth. He said, “Alas, alas, this song was composed for all those who come to our state as Governors. When the first Governor came, we sang that song. Each time another Governor comes, we perform it for him.”

The new Governor was completely shattered and disillusioned. In a very sad tone of voice he said, “Oh, it is for everybody. It is a general song.”

“Yes,” said the singer. “We sing the same thing for everyone who comes here to serve as the Governor.”

The Governor was so disheartened that he was not inspired to give any money at all to the great singer, and the singer quietly left the room.

The doctor-swimmer

This is a story about a village doctor. This particular doctor was very successful in his profession. He had an excellent reputation and people used to come and seek his help from far and wide.

One evening a young man arrived at the doctor’s place from a distant village and cried, “My father is dying, my father is dying! Please come and cure him! You are so famous. You can cure any disease. You have to help my father!”

The doctor said, “I am glad that people appreciate my treatments, but how can I know in advance whom I can cure? I can only try to the best of my capacity.”

The son said to the doctor, “No, no! I know you can cure my father. Everybody says that your treatments are one hundred per cent successful.”

Finally the doctor said, “All right, let us see. Kindly take me to your father.”

There was no proper transportation to the young man’s village, so he and the doctor covered the four miles on foot. When they arrived, the doctor examined the patient and gave him some medicine. Then he waited to see if the medicine would take effect. Unfortunately, in two hours’ time the patient took a serious turn for the worse and died.

There were some local village doctors present. Their advice and remedies had been passed over because the son had placed all his faith in the famous doctor. Now they began saying, “We were on the verge of curing the patient when this new doctor came! Obviously he gave the wrong medicine to your father, or the dose that he gave was too powerful. That is why your father died. Had you listened to us and followed our advice, your father could have gone on living for many more years. We could definitely have cured him. In fact, by the time you came back, he was already making some improvement. Why did this new doctor have to interfere?”

At this point, the son was also regretting that he had brought in the famous doctor. Now he became absolutely mad and furious. He and the members of his family, along with some of the villagers, grabbed the poor doctor and threw him into the deepest part of the river. It was late at night and there was nobody nearby to rescue the doctor. Fortunately, he did know how to swim. The water was extremely cold, but the doctor swam and swam until he reached the shore. From there he started walking, and finally, early in the morning, he came home.

The doctor arrived at his home to find his son studying medical books. The son had always wanted to become a great doctor like his father. Now the doctor said to him, “My son, do not study anymore. You do not have to study right now.”

The son said, “Why, father? You have always encouraged me to follow your profession, and now all of a sudden you do not want me to study. I cannot understand.”

The father said, “Before you start learning medicine, I want you to become an excellent swimmer. If you can be an excellent swimmer, then definitely you can become a good doctor. You have to know that your life comes first.” Then he told his son how he had saved his own life the previous night. The doctor said, “I could not save the life of the young man’s father, but I saved my own life by swimming. All my medical knowledge became useless when my own life was in danger. At that time it was only my knowledge of swimming that saved me. So, my son, first learn how to swim. Then you can think of giving medicine to others!”

The king disobeys his own decree

One day long ago a king went up to the roof of his palace. From there he could look out over the whole city. To his wide surprise he saw that down below, in the street, all the citizens were singing and dancing. They were wearing brilliant and colourful costumes and they looked most spectacular. Naturally the king thought that they were all appreciating and admiring him, so he was very pleased with them, especially when he saw that they had gone to so much trouble to wear beautiful costumes.

Unfortunately, the king had a very critical side to his nature. The more he looked at the costumes, the more unsatisfactory he found them. He said, “I know they are getting joy from wearing all the colours of the rainbow. However, since I am the one they are trying to please, I feel my own joy should come first. I must get joy in my own way and not in their way.”

So the king went downstairs and summoned his minister. He told the minister, “You can make an announcement that I am very pleased with the singing and dancing that was held today in my honour, but I will be more pleased if, from now on, all the citizens wear a kind of uniform. It has to be the same colour, but there should be one design for men and another for women. Right from tomorrow, everybody will wear the same thing. This also applies to me and to the queen. Everyone will be equal, and you people will be able to talk to me in exactly the same way that you talk to each other. Everyone will be able to talk and mix freely and openly, without any distinctions of rank or wealth. According to me, that will make an ideal kingdom. I want everybody to be equal, equal, equal.”

So the decree went out. The poor people were very happy that they would be wearing the same uniform as the king and the members of the court, but the members of the court and all the wealthy citizens were unhappy to the extreme because now they would look just like the poorest people in the kingdom. The queen was especially unhappy because she would not be able to wear her beautiful gowns and jewels. She would look just like a maidservant.

But the king was supremely happy and he was convinced that his attempt to create an ideal society would be a success. The next day the king put on his uniform and went in search of his wife. He saw quite a few women in the palace, but he found it difficult to tell which one was his wife, since they were all wearing exactly the same kind of dress. He said, “What is happening? My queen is so beautiful, so dignified. Now everybody looks practically the same. I cannot distinguish her from any of the other women or attendants in the palace.”

When the queen saw that her husband could not recognise her, she was deeply hurt and she went back to her own room. Meanwhile, the king went in search of his minister. He found the minister chatting with some friends. When the king approached, the minister did not bow down or show him any kind of outer respect. What is more, the minister was wearing exactly the same kind of uniform as the king. This was too much for the king. He grabbed the minister’s arm and said, “How dare you ignore me when I approach you! I am the king. You and your friends are wearing the same outfit as I am wearing. There is absolutely no difference between your uniform and mine. I can see that you are all trying to make fun of me!”

The minister was horrified, but he thought perhaps the king was trying to test him in some way. So he said very casually, “You yourself told us to dress like this. If there is anyone to be blamed, it is you.”

Nobody had ever spoken to the king in that manner before. His anger knew no bounds. He said, “What right do you have to challenge me in this way? You are speaking as if you were my equal. That is intolerable! My word is law in this kingdom.”

The minister mustered up his courage and said, “O King, in your decree of yesterday you gave us all the authority to feel that we are as great and as powerful as you are. That is why you told us to wear the same uniform. You wanted everybody in your kingdom to be on an equal footing, including yourself. Furthermore, you told your ministers and others not to treat you any differently than they treated each other. That is why, when you approached me a few moments ago, I did not show you any special respect. I was talking with my friends. If you wanted to interrupt us, you should have apologised first. But you simply grabbed my arm and demanded my attention, the way a king would. You are the first one to disobey your own decree. Now perhaps you will realise your own stupidity!”

When the king received this serious scolding from his minister, he came to his senses and gave up his idea of having an equal society. He said, “Let everyone behave the way they have been behaving all along. Let them dress in whichever clothes they choose, let them mix with their own friends and let them once more show proper respect to their king and queen. I have recognised my stupidity!”

The turtle that bragged

Two little fish met together in a stream and began bragging to each other. The first fish said, “I am so beautiful, so exquisite in every way. Look at my colours! See how I am shining! I am literally perfect!”

The second fish said, “I have a much more subtle beauty than you have. You look so gaudy! I am much more elegant. And what is more, the lake where I live is far superior to yours!”

The first fish was shocked. “How can your lake be superior to mine? It is so puny and shallow. My lake is as vast and deep as an ocean! Your claims are all exaggeration.”

The second fish began to defend itself in a spirited way. It said, “Your lake has no character. Mine is smaller and more charming. People appreciate it so much. There is really no comparison between my lake and yours!”

The two fish continued bragging and then started fighting about their respective claims. There seemed to be no end to their argument. Finally, one of them had a brilliant idea. It said, “Let us find a judge who will be able to tell us truthfully who is actually the more beautiful and who lives in the nicer lake.”

The fish agreed to go and ask a turtle to be the judge. The turtle said, “Let me hear both sides of the case and then I will decide.”

So they explained everything to the turtle and repeated all their claims. The turtle listened patiently and then said, “All right, before I tell you who is the more beautiful, listen to me carefully.” Then the turtle stretched out its neck and legs and said, “Look at me! God has given me such a beautiful, thick body. My legs are so strong and beautiful. I feel that even God’s Legs may not be as beautiful as mine! And see how long my neck is! Now look at my eyes. I cannot see my eyes, but when I think of them, I know they must be like sparkling jewels. I cannot imagine that there can be anything more beautiful than I in God’s entire creation. Without a doubt, God has made me His most beautiful creation.”

The little fish were aghast. They said to each other, “We chose the turtle to be our judge because we thought that it would be impartial. We thought that it would truthfully be able to proclaim which one of us is more beautiful. We never imagined that the turtle would think of itself as the most beautiful of all God’s creations. Now we have come to learn that everybody has the right to feel that he himself is beautiful and perfect. It is a matter of individual belief.”

Then they said to the turtle, “We shall not go to any other judge. You have really taught us something. We are so grateful to you for illumining us by bragging and bragging about your own beauty. Your self-appreciation is no match for ours, but we have learned something most important about beauty from you. The best thing is for everything in God’s creation to live happily believing that it is the most beautiful of all. Bragging only creates problems which have no solution. Now let us all go back to our own homes and live peacefully.”

The court jester says something new

In ancient India, most of the kings had court jesters. Sometimes the fame of these court jesters spread far and wide, especially if they were extremely clever, witty and imaginative. The job of the court jester was to make everybody laugh, but if he was also very wise, then everybody was able to profit from his humour.

This story concerns a particular court jester who was renowned for his unique sense of humour. One time he was asked to entertain a visiting king. He said many, many funny things and composed some very witty verses. Everybody enjoyed his performance immensely.

The visiting king was very, very pleased. Finally he said to the court jester, “Say something new, something absolutely new! If I really enjoy it, then I will reward you with some gold coins. I have in my pocket one hundred gold coins. I will give you twenty if you can say something which has never been said before.”

The court jester said, “For twenty gold coins it is not worth my time to exercise my brain. For such a small price I do not want to reveal something absolutely new and humorous which my king and others have not heard.”

The visiting king said, “All right, I will increase it to fifty gold coins. Now at least say something new which your king has never heard.”

The court jester’s own king was observing everything in silence and waiting to see what would happen next. The visiting king continued, “I am offering you half of my gold coins, and still you do not want to tell me something absolutely new?”

The court jester said, “No, still I do not feel it is worthwhile.”

Finally the visiting king said, “All right, here is my bag containing one hundred gold coins. It is all that I have with me. You may keep the entire amount if you tell me something new. Is this acceptable?”

The court jester took the bag of coins and said, “If I keep these gold coins of yours, then you and I will be equal. Previously, you were offering this amount and that amount as if I were a beggar. That is why I did not feel it was worth my while. You were only tempting me by raising my reward. But now that you have given me all your wealth, I do not have to beg anymore. You have given the highest price, which is everything that you have. Now I do not need your money. Take it back.”

And the court jester handed the bag of coins back to the visiting king. This king was puzzled. He said, “What do you mean?”

The court jester said, “I do not need your money because I am pleased with you. You are ready to give me everything you have, whereas my own king does not give me all that he has. Not by any means! He has so much wealth, but he is very miserly with his gifts.” Then the court jester began to elaborate on the defects of his own king. He criticised his king mercilessly. Instead of getting angry, the king laughed and laughed.

Then the visiting king asked, “So, what is the new thing that you are saying?”

The court jester explained, “The new thing that I am saying is that my king is miserly. Whereas you are ready to give me everything that you have, my king finds it very difficult to part with his money. He is closefisted to the extreme. Once in a while, with great reluctance, he may give me one gold coin. But he would not dream of giving me one hundred gold coins!”

Then everybody laughed and laughed. The visiting king laughed because the court jester had flattered him and said unkind things about his own king. And the host king laughed because his court jester, as usual, had conveyed the truth in a very humorous way by making fun of his own king. Both the kings agreed that the court jester had succeeded in saying something absolutely new.

A little boy and his drum

A little boy was bragging and bragging to his young friends that he was getting so much money from his drum. With this money he could afford to buy ice cream, pastries and all kinds of delicious things.

One of his friends said to him, “That means you must play so well! You are a born drummer. One day I would like to hear you play. I have no money, but please play for me.”

The little boy said to him, “You do not have to worry about paying me. I am your friend. As a matter of fact, you can come to my house tomorrow. I will give you free ice cream and I will play for you.”

The following day the young friend who had been invited came to the house of the budding musician. To start with, the little musician brought out some ice cream and the two friends sat eating quite happily. The drum was on the floor beside them. When they had finished eating, the eager guest pointed at the drum and said, “Now can I hear you play?”

“No, it is not necessary,” said the musician very proudly. “Without playing the drum, I make so much money! My parents, my brothers and sisters and all my relatives give me money on the condition that I do not play my drum. I can easily make so much money by not playing.”

His little friend was curious. “If you play, what will happen?” he asked.

The budding musician looked very serious. “If I play,” he said, “perhaps my parents will turn me out of the house!”

A child after his own heart

A court jester had a little child. He was very, very fond of his child. Whenever the child wanted anything, his father would immediately give it to him. He indulged the child in every possible way. His position as court jester brought him lots of money and he was able to fulfil all the wishes of his son.

One day the child was caught doing some kind of mischief in the house. His father scolded him a little and sent him out to play. Then the father felt miserable because he had been so strict with his little child. He went in search of the child, only to find that he was again doing the same thing. This time the father gave the child a slap. Afterwards the father felt so sorry for giving his son a slap that he gave him a rupee.

The little child said to his father, “You are so kind to me. I did something wrong, so you gave me a slap, but now you have given me a rupee. Can you sign a contract?”

“What kind of contract?” asked the father.

The little child explained, “Every day I will do something wrong. You will give me a slap to punish me and then you will give me a rupee.”

The court jester was greatly amused. He said, “All right, all right!”

One day the court jester allowed his child to accompany him to the palace. The king was extremely fond of the court jester and his family, and he was very pleased to see the child. He said to the child, “So, are you learning jokes from your father?”

“Yes, I am learning many jokes,” said the child with tremendous confidence.

The king smiled and said, “Then you may begin today by telling me some of your best jokes. If you can tell me at least one good joke, then I will invite you to come to my court once a week to entertain us.”

“Yes, I can tell you a good joke,” said the child eagerly. “My father says to me that you are very, very kind to him. He has never seen anybody as kind as you are.”

The king was very pleased. “Did he really say that?” he asked.

“Yes, he did,” answered the child.

“I am very glad to hear it,” said the king, “but this is not actually humour. There is no joke behind it.”

The little child immediately said, “There is no joke behind it because right now it is incomplete. But if I complete the joke, you may be displeased with me, so it is better to stop here.”

“What could make me unhappy with you?” said the king. “I am telling you to finish your joke.”

“All right,” said the child. “My father has also told me that the queen is infinitely more generous than you are! So if the queen comes to know that you are employing me one day a week, she will definitely pay me much, much more than you will give me.”

The court jester was very embarrassed and uncomfortable, but to his great relief the king started laughing. The king said, “Oh, this is real humour! Unfortunately, the queen is not here today, so I am giving you much more than what I will normally give you because I want to give you the queen’s share also. I would definitely like you to come here to the court once a week on a regular basis, and I do hope that one day you can surpass your father!”

Then the king handed the little child a small pile of rupees.

The retired military officers

Four retired military officers used to meet together to discuss the glorious adventures of their youth and to brag about their bravery and heroism. One afternoon, when they were all taking tea and chatting together, one of the officers said that in a certain battle he met an enemy soldier face to face and cut off both the man’s legs.

The second officer said that he had exactly the same experience, except that in his case he had found himself face to face with two enemies, so he had cut off four legs.

The third officer said to them, “Why did you cut off their legs? Surely it would have been better to think of their heads!”

Now the fourth officer, who had been silent all along, suddenly opened his mouth. “Stop, stop, stop!” he said. “They did not get the chance. I cut off the heads of those three enemy soldiers long before these so-called heroes arrived upon the scene!”

Translations of this page: Czech
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