One day a king and his minister went out for a walk incognito. The king said to the minister, “I want to give a reward to anyone who is hospitable to us during our walk.”
The king and the minister went up to one man and said, “We are travelers. This is a fine town and we would like to spend the night here. Could we stay at your house as guests?”
The man insulted them, saying, “How do I know you’re not criminals?”
Then the king and the minister went up and knocked on somebody else’s door. When the man opened the door they asked, “Can we can spend the night here? We are travelers and it’s getting dark.”
The man said, “First tell me how many of you there are. Then I’ll decide.”
The king said, “You see that we are only two. We don’t have much money, but if you allow us to stay with you, before we leave tomorrow morning we’ll pay you what we can.”
Then the king said, “It is still somewhat light out, and your country is very beautiful. We’ll walk around and come back in an hour or so.”
So the king and minister continued walking. They approached another house and knocked on the door. The king said, “We’re travelers. It’s getting dark. Could we spend the night at your house?”
The man said, “Certainly! just tell me how many of you there are.”
The king said, “You can see we are only two.” The king told that person also that they would come back in a while. Then they went back to the palace.
The minister had taken down the address of each person to whom they had spoken, and the following day the king summoned all three to the palace. To the one who had insulted him the king said, “I don’t need you in my kingdom. When travelers come from a different kingdom, we must offer them shelter. You could see we were respectable. It was obvious we weren’t thieves.” And the king threw the man out of his kingdom.
To the second man the king gave a large sum of money. To the third one, who immediately offered shelter and only afterwards asked how many were in their party, the king gave his crown.
He told the man, “In this kingdom we need the kind of people who offer everything without hesitation and only then seek to determine how much is necessary. When we approached you, you didn’t ask how many were in our party. You just said, ‘Come, come!’ The other man first asked how many we had. If we had more people, he might not have agreed to shelter us. We need more people like you.”
So the third man received the crown from the king and took it home as his most treasured possession.
from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy
Published by Health Communications