Is your mind ready to cry? Is your heart ready to smile? part 3

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The wonderful singer

There once was a singer who put everybody to sleep when he sang. As soon as he started singing, his audience would fall asleep for an hour or two. Then they would wake up when the power of his singing had worn off.

Some said that he was such an excellent singer that he was putting everyone’s soul to sleep. Others said that he was such a horrible singer that people went to sleep rather than listen to him — they spontaneously invoked the goddess of sleep so that they could fall asleep. So there were two schools of thought about the singer. One deeply appreciated his musical talent; the other did not appreciate him at all. But they all went to hear him sing.

One day, two burglars came to the singer and said, “You are such a great singer. We want to hire you. If we give you a very large amount of money, will you be able to sing at a particular place?”

The singer said, “Of course! As long as I get the money, I will sing. I don’t trust you two, but if you give me the money beforehand, then I will go wherever you want me to.”

The two burglars gave the singer a very large amount of money and then asked him to follow them. They brought him in front of a small bank and asked him to sing there. It was early evening, and there was only one guard watching this bank. As soon as the singer started singing, immediately the guard fell asleep. Then the two burglars entered into the bank and began collecting all the money.

After some time the singer stopped singing, because the guard was fast asleep. He said, “There is nobody to listen. This man doesn’t care for my music.”

For a long time the singer stood waiting for the two burglars to come out of the bank. Finally he went inside and told them, “You have already given me my money. Now I am going away.”

The burglars said, “Yes, you can go away now,” and they thanked him profusely.

As the singer was about to leave, all of a sudden he got the inspiration to start singing. Immediately both of the burglars fell asleep. In the meantime the guard who was outside woke up since he was not in earshot of the singing.

When the guard saw the singer coming out of the bank, he said, “What were you doing inside the bank? What’s going on in there?”

The singer said, “I don’t know,” and he ran away.

When the guard went inside, he found the two burglars sleeping and he caught them.

The miser's commitment

There was once a rich man who was a real miser. He didn’t trust anyone. He didn’t love anyone. He wouldn’t give anything to anyone as a gift. The man’s wife was quite generous. Although she didn’t have access to her husband’s wealth and money-power, with her very limited resources she used to help people and give money to the poor.

Some people were very sympathetic to the wife because they knew that she had only limited means to help others. Others thought that she should have forced her husband to become a generous man or to give her more money so that she could use it in her own way. There were other people who were so callous that they used to ridicule her for having such a miserly husband. They didn’t dare say anything to the rich man himself since they were afraid of him and his money-power. They felt that with his money-power he could create problems for them if he wanted to. Therefore, they didn’t say anything to him directly, but they used to ridicule his wife mercilessly at times.

One day the wife was watering her garden when some neighbours happened to pass by and began making fun of her. They said, “We have heard that tomorrow your husband is going to give a big feast for hundreds of people. We shall come to his feast without fail.”

The wife said, “I don’t know a thing about it. Where did you hear it?”

They said, “You are telling a lie! Don’t you know what is going to happen tomorrow in your own house? Anyway, tomorrow we shall come and hundreds of people will also come. Tomorrow your husband will really use his money-power in a proper way.”

The wife answered, “Oh no, he will be generous only after his death.”

The neighbours laughed and laughed at her and then went away. She went inside and told her husband, “Some neighbours told me that you are going to feed hundreds of people tomorrow. Is it true?”

He said, “Impossible! Impossible! What did you say to them?”

She said, “I told them that you would be generous only after your death.”

This made the husband mad.

The wife asked, “Why are you mad? I said that you would be generous only after your death.”

The husband said, “But that is a specific date. Why did you make a commitment? Now after I die I will have to think of people and feed them from Heaven. I am really angry and disappointed with you. You should never make any commitment on my behalf!”

The thief's protector

Once a thief was being chased by two policemen. They were running after him but they could not catch him. Finally, the thief entered into a house and asked the owner for protection. He told the owner, “I have lots of money. I will give you half if you save me.”

The owner said, “Definitely I will save you, but you have to keep your promise.”

It was evening, and the policemen had been two hundred metres behind the thief, so they did not see where he had gone. When they came to the house where the thief was hiding, they asked the owner, “Did you see a thief come in here?”

The man immediately said, “Where? On which side of the street did he come?” Then he started screaming loudly, “Thief! Thief!” The neighbours came out and joined the police in looking for him around the neighbourhood. The thief was not to be found anywhere, so the police were about to leave.

The owner of the house said, “I feel that one day the culprit will be caught. In God’s creation if anybody does anything wrong, he will be caught. How I hate thieves. We work so hard to earn money. With greatest difficulty we earn money and then thieves come and steal it. Of all crimes I hate theft the most.”

Then everyone went home, including the policemen. The man went back into his home and told the thief: “Look, everybody has gone away. I joined the party looking for the thief and I played my role most successfully. Now you have to give me half of the money you have.”

The thief said, “A new idea has entered into my brain. From now on, I will never tell a lie or have anything to do with anybody who tells lies. I hate to see people telling lies. From now on if I see anyone telling lies, I will punish that person. Now, you are the first person I have seen telling lies.”

The man said, “What? I have saved you!”

The thief said, “Yes, you told those people that you did not see me. You protected me, but you told them a lie. So you are the first person I have seen telling lies.” Then the thief took out his revolver and said, “Now I am going to kill you.”

The man started crying and the thief said, “Either allow me to kill you or let me leave your place peacefully.”

The owner said, “Go away peacefully. I don’t need your money. Please, just go.”

The king and the traveller

One day a king said to his minister, “I do not know what is actually happening in my kingdom. Unless I move around incognito, I will not know what my subjects are really thinking. People come and bow down to me and show me all kinds of respect, but their true nature I do not know. Let me try to find out the true nature of my subjects.”

The minister said, “That is an excellent idea.”

The king said, “This evening I am going to walk around my kingdom and I would like you to accompany me. We will move around in disguise like two ordinary men. Nobody will follow us. Only you and I will go.”

The minister agreed. “That is a good idea. Then we will know what people are like in their true nature.”

So that evening the king and the minister went out. As they were walking along, they happened to see a traveller. The traveller said to them, “I am very tired. Please tell me if there are any guest houses here where I can stay. I have no money.”

The king said to him, “We don’t know of any guest houses in our city.”

The traveller exclaimed, “You do not have any guest houses? What kind of place is this? If you were to come to my city, you could easily find a place to stay!”

A middle-aged man was passing by and asked, “What is happening? May I take part in this conversation?” The man did not recognise the king at all.

The traveller said, “I am from another town and I am asking these two men if there is a guest house where I can take shelter tonight. They say there is no place. If you were to come to my city, there would be places for you to stay.”

The man said, “These two are fools. They have no knowledge of our kingdom. Our king is so kind and generous. He has made us so good that we don’t need any special guest houses. All the houses serve as guest houses. If you come with me, you will see what a nice host I am. Like that, you can go to any house. If you don’t believe me, come with me and spend the night. These two are fools.”

Then the man turned to the king and the minister and said, “You two live here and you do not know how kind and generous our king is? Our king would be shocked if he heard that a traveller could find no shelter here. Perhaps you two come from another city and that is why you don’t know about our hospitality.”

The king and the minister remained totally silent. Finally they said, “Can you tell us your name in case some other people ask for shelter? Then we will be able to recommend you. We have never seen such a kind-hearted man.”

The man said, “I am sorry that the king has such fools in his kingdom like you two.”

The man gave the king and minister his name and address and then brought the traveller with him to his house. The man kept his promise and offered the traveller excellent treatment.

The following day the king summoned the man to his palace. O God, when the soldiers arrived at his house to bring him to the palace, he got so frightened. He said, “What have I done wrong?”

When the man reached the palace the king said to him, “I was so moved by your kindness.” The king told him the whole story and gave him a very large amount of money. Then he said, “I am ordering my workers to build many guest houses in my kingdom. I want my kingdom to be a place of hospitality. People should feel that I am really generous, which I am, but until now I haven’t provided shelter for visitors. You have opened my eyes. From now on we shall have guest houses for all the travellers.”

The minister's test

There was a king who wanted to become really great. He said, “I shall conquer my neighbouring king.”

His minister said to him, “O King, it is always good to remain peaceful. Why do you want to conquer another king?”

The king said, “If you speak to me like this, I will dispense with your services and get a new minister. Only a minister who listens to me and carries out all my wishes will I keep. Only tell me how I can conquer the other king.”

The minister said, “But what has he done wrong?”

The king said, “The very fact that he is another king makes him a rival. I want only myself to be king and nobody else.”

The minister told the king, “Whether or not you can conquer the other king entirely depends on the wisdom of the other king’s minister.”

“Yes, yes,” said the king, “you are right. As I depend on your wisdom, the other king also has to depend on his minister. All right, tell me what you are going to do.”

The minister said, “Let us make a test. Let us send a letter to the other king saying that we shall be extremely grateful if he could send us two men — one who makes his living by giving life to others, by helping others to have a sound life, and one who depends on the death of human beings to make his living. We will say that we have been looking everywhere in our kingdom for two men like this but have not been able to find them. If the king passes this test, then I tell you, it is useless to fight against him, for that king is really powerful.”

The king got mad and said, “You are always saying that others are powerful and I am useless. You get out of my kingdom!”

The minister begged him, “O King, don’t throw me out at my age. Allow me to make this test and see how the other king answers our letter.”

So they sent the letter to the neighbouring king. When the other king received the letter he asked his minister what to do. The minister advised him to send a doctor and an undertaker. He said, “A doctor earns his livelihood by giving strength and life to people. He lives by helping others to have a sound life. An undertaker comes when people die, when they have to be buried. It is by the death of people that an undertaker lives.”

So instead of answering the letter, the other king sent a doctor and an undertaker to the first king’s palace.

When they arrived at the palace, the minister said to the king, “Don’t try to conquer the other king. You will not succeed because that king is really wise. When a king can answer a question like this one, it is impossible to conquer him. Such wise people he has in his kingdom. With wise people you can’t fight.

“O King, you can fire me if you wish. But no matter whom you take in my place, if that person advises you to fight against that other king, he will be making a very serious mistake. If you fight against intelligent people you will always lose.”

Money-power surrenders to wisdom-power

There was once a man who was very miserly, whereas his wife was very generous. But the wife did not have access to her husband’s money. They had so much money that they could have easily helped the village that they lived in. For months people were suffering from drought and famine. Because of the drought, there was not enough food and people were dying of starvation. The wife begged the husband to dig some wells so that at least their neighbours could have water. But the husband did not want to spend money to dig wells.

The wife said, “Who knows, by digging in the ground, perhaps even I can find water.”

So she asked their one servant to help her dig a well at a particular place. The wife, herself a respectable lady, also joined the servant in digging. Every day they would dig, but they did not find water at all. The husband laughed and laughed and said, “Yes, you will dig for a year and still there will be nothing. Only your stupidity-hole is becoming bigger.”

One day the servant had a clever idea. He said, “Mother, we are trying so hard, but your husband is being so unkind and cruel. Let us play a trick.”

“What kind of trick?” the wife asked.

The servant said, “Every morning your husband comes and laughs at us. Tomorrow also he will come. Let us put some oil on the ground where we are digging. When he sees the oil on the ground, he will get very excited. He will employ many workers and servants, thinking that oil may be found here. They will dig and dig. Who knows, perhaps there will be some water here.”

The following day the husband came and saw the oil on the ground. He was so excited and said to himself, “I want to take the full credit for discovering oil.” Then he said to his wife and servant, “Can you do me a favour today? Can you bring me something from the market? I will give you anything you want if you do me this favour.”

His wife and servant went to the market to buy a few things for the husband. The wife was totally innocent. She had totally forgotten about the oil trick. She was just doing a favour for her husband. In the meantime, the husband brought twenty workers to continue digging at the same place so that he could get all the credit for discovering oil. They worked for a few hours and finally they found water.

The workers were so happy to find water, but the owner of the house was very disappointed. He said, “Who wanted to have water? I wanted to have oil so that I could sell it and become richer. How can I sell water? I can only give it away to my neighbours.”

The wife and the servant came back from the market and they were so delighted and excited to see that water had been found. The husband said to them, “How can it be? This morning I actually saw oil on the ground. That’s why I hired so many workers. This morning there was oil, but now there is only water.”

The wife said, “Money-power surrenders to wisdom-power.”

“What are you talking about?” asked the husband.

“This is all due to our servant’s wisdom. We tried so hard to find water but we failed. Then he had a brilliant idea. He knows how miserly you are. He knew that if you saw oil on the ground where we were digging, then you would start digging a well looking for oil. God wanted you to help the needy. God didn’t want you to become richer by discovering oil.”

The kingdom's worst liar

There was once a king’s minister who was very jealous of the court jester because the king used to pay much attention to the jester and everybody used to appreciate the jester. It pained the king that although the minister held such a high post, still he was so jealous of the jester. The king said to himself, “Why should he be so insecure and jealous of this man?”

One day the king wanted to play a trick on the minister and humiliate him. He said to the minister, “I would like to have some entertainment. I would like the court jester to bring me the worst possible liar in my entire kingdom.”

So the minister asked the court jester to bring the worst possible liar and said that the king would reward that person. The court jester went here and there and brought many different people to the palace.

One person told the king, “I have seen a lion flying in the sky.”

Another person said, “I saw the sun and moon fighting like cats and dogs.”

A third one said, “For the last few months my wife has not remembered my name. Many of my friends ask her what my name is, but she has totally forgotten, although she remembers everybody else’s name.”

The queen said, “I don’t like this kind of entertainment. Why do people have to tell these kinds of lies? It is not good. You are the worst liar. You have been telling me for years that you will give me a new crown, but still you have not given me one. So you are a true liar.”

The king said, “All right, I will give you a crown. But you can’t be the worst possible liar because you have just stated a fact.”

The queen said, “I don’t want to be the worst liar. Again, I don’t want to have such a stupid husband who enjoys trying to find the worst possible liar. This kind of game does not become you.”

So the king and queen were arguing and everybody was enjoying it. Then the jester said, “Still I am not satisfied. Let us ask the minister.” He turned to the minister and said, “You are the wisest of all. You don’t know how much I admire you. Do you think you could tell us a lie?”

The minister became furious. He said, “How dare you ask me to tell a lie. I have never told a lie. My father and mother never told lies. My grandfather and grandmother and my great-grandfather and great-grandmother never told lies. I come from a family where there were no lies — only the truth. How do you dare to ask me to tell a lie!”

The jester turned to the king and said, “Your Highness, now I have found the man you are looking for. If you have real faith in me, then I wish to say that there can be no liar worse than this minister. He says that he has never told a lie and that his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have never told a lie. Is it possible?”

So the king gave a prize to the court jester because he had discovered the greatest liar and another prize to the minister who had unconsciously proven himself to be the worst possible liar. One found the worst liar and the other unfortunately was caught.

The royal exhibition

Once a king personally arranged an exhibition of all his wealth. All the jewels that he had collected during his life and also those that he had inherited from his parents and grandparents were displayed. Included in the exhibition was a most beautiful and valuable diamond ring called the Kohinoor diamond, which was displayed on a plate decorated with diamonds.

Ordinary subjects were not allowed to see the exhibition. Only those who were wealthy were allowed to go. Many distinguished people went.

One evening, many people were looking at the many beautiful objects and enjoying the display. All of a sudden, somebody noticed that the Kohinoor diamond ring was missing. The king was horrified to think that one of his many distinguished friends and relatives could have stolen the diamond. He asked his minister, “What should we do? This is so embarrassing.”

The minister said, “We don’t want to search anybody, because all the people here are your friends and relatives. Let us turn off all the lights, so that nobody will be able to see. Then, in the dark we can make an announcement asking whoever has taken the ring to quietly put it back. Let us not use the word ‘stolen’. We will say, ‘Whoever has taken the ring by mistake should quietly put it back on the plate’.”

The king agreed that it was best not to expose the culprit. So they turned off all the lights and the minister said, “In five minutes I hope the one who has taken the ring by mistake will put it back.” After five minutes the minister said, “Let us give a few more minutes for the person to return the diamond. Who knows, that person may not be near the place where the diamond was supposed to be.”

After five more minutes the minister said, “Now we are turning on the lights, and to our deep joy I am sure we shall find that the ring has been returned.”

They turned on the lights and all eyes turned to the place where the ring had been. O God, now the plate was also gone! The king got furious with the minister. He said, “Here I tried to avoid embarrassing my friends and relatives, and this is what has happened!”

The minister said, “I am sure at least that the fellow who has taken the plate is still here. The person who has taken the ring may not be here, but the fellow who has taken the plate must be here. Let us search everybody.”

The king said, “No, I am now closing down the exhibition. God wants me to be wise. God wants me to know that I don’t live with honest people. If even my friends and relatives are not honest, then I have to be careful.”

The minister's trick

There was once a kingdom where everybody had been living peacefully for years and years. One day a thief came into the kingdom and began creating problems for everyone. Every day reports would come in that something else had been stolen. The peace of the kingdom disappeared.

The king asked his minister to find the thief, but he could not find him. Finally, the king said to the minister, “If you can’t find him, I will have to get another minister. Previously this was such a peaceful kingdom. Now it is full of suffering. Every day more people come to me and say that their things have been stolen.”

The minister was afraid of losing his job, so he began praying to God to give him some Light from above. Then he went to the king and said, “Tomorrow I will catch the thief.”

The king said, “Tomorrow?”

“Yes,” said the minister. “I will catch him tomorrow.”

The king was so delighted. The following day the minister ordered that an announcement be made throughout the kingdom that the thief would finally be caught. Then the minister bribed someone to say that he was the thief. He told him, “I will arrest you and bring you before the king. You will confess that you are the culprit. Don’t worry, I will save you from any punishment. You take this money from me.”

Everybody in the kingdom was talking about the minister’s announcement. They were so happy and excited that the thief would finally be caught. Many people came to the palace so that they could see the bandit when the minister brought him to the king.

The next day, the minister rushed to the palace with the “thief”, acting so happy and excited that he had caught him. The king said to the man, “You have created so many problems. Such joy we once had in my kingdom. Now you deserve severe punishment.”

The man said, “Whatever you want to do with me, I am ready, O King.” Inwardly he had faith that the minister would save him.

The king said, “I am sentencing you to twenty years in jail.”

Everybody in the palace applauded the king’s decision. The minister said, “It is absolutely right that this fellow deserves a long punishment. But I have another idea.”

“I am very interested to hear of another kind of punishment,” said the king. “Please tell me your idea.”

“You always tell me,” said the minister, “that you want your kingdom to be the only peaceful kingdom. In other kingdoms you say you want unrest, unhappiness and misery. You want other subjects to suffer and your subjects alone to be happy.”

“That is absolutely correct,” said the king.

The minister continued, “Let us send this fellow into your worst enemy’s kingdom. Let him create there the same problems that he has been creating here. Your kingdom will be full of peace again, just like before, and your enemy’s kingdom will be full of suffering.”

“It is an excellent idea!” exclaimed the king. “Let me give him lots of money since he will be doing us a favour.”

The man was so excited to receive so much money from the king, and the king was so excited with the minister’s new plan. All the people watching in the palace were happy that their kingdom would be peaceful once again, while the enemy’s kingdom would be full of unrest and unhappiness.

So the minister, the thief and two guards set out to go to the other kingdom. When they reached the neutral territory between the two kingdoms, they let the thief go.

All of a sudden a very big, strong and stout bandit came out and attacked the so-called thief.

He said, “I was in the crowd at the palace observing everything that happened. How dare you get so much attention and money by saying you were the thief! It was I who used to steal and create all the problems. Now you have got so much money just to go to another kingdom. It is I who have stolen, but compared to what you have just received, I have got next to nothing. What you have got from the king you have to give me. Otherwise, I will kill you.”

Immediately the guards who had been following the fake thief arrested the real one and brought him to the king. The minister said to the king, “Now we have got the real thief. We have caught him red-handed.”

The king said, “What shall we do? Do you think we should kill him?”

The minister said, “If we send him to the enemy kingdom, it is not going to help us. God alone knows what he is going to do there. Since he is such a bad fellow, the best thing is for us to kill him.”

So this is how the minister caught the thief and saved the kingdom. The minister knew that when the real thief came to learn how much attention the false thief was getting and how much money the king had given him, at that time he would not be able to remain silent.

The mistaken invitation

There was once a king who had a big heart. Every month he used to invite some of his friends, a few of his ministers and selected officials from his cities to a special meal. He always gave them good meals and was happy that they enjoyed his food.

Once an invitation was sent to the wrong person — not to one of the officials of a city, but to a poor man. He came to the dinner and, O God, what did he do? He deliberately threw all the food off the expensive plate and started licking and biting the plate. The man didn’t say a word. He refused to touch the food and just went on biting the plate. Everybody thought he was a crazy fellow and that something was wrong with him. Afterwards, as the man was leaving, the king followed him and asked him, “Why did you do this?”

The man said, “I am a poor man. There are thousands of poor people just like me. The ministers take your money and tell you that they are supplying us with food. But it is all lies. Like me, many are extremely poor. I have never seen that kind of plate or that kind of food. That is why I would not eat the food, and instead I was only biting the plate.”

The king investigated and found that the man was telling the truth. He used to give money to his friends, to his ministers and to the city officials to give to these people, but they were all corrupt. After that he appointed new ministers and officials and he made this poor fellow who ate the plate his prime minister.

Editor's preface to the first edition

The tales in this book, part of a collection that Sri Chinmoy has adapted from traditional Indian stories, have an innocent and childlike quality that appeals to the child in all of us. The stories have been performed as plays by Sri Chinmoy’s students.

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