A great King, Yayati

A great king, Yayati, was going to die. Death came…. It is an ancient story; in those days things were simple and the other world was not so far away. Death came and knocked on the door. Yayati opened the door and he said, ”What? I have lived for only a hundred years, and here you are – and with no notice! At least some time should be given. I have not fulfilled my real desires yet. I have been postponing: tomorrow, tomorrow; and now you are here, and there will be no tomorrow. This is cruel! Be kind!”

Death said, ”I have to take somebody, I cannot go empty-handed. But seeing your misery, your old age, I will grant you a hundred years more. But then one of your sons has to go with me.” Yayati had one hundred sons – he had one hundred wives – so he said, ”That is simple!” It was not so simple as he had thought. He called his hundred sons and asked one to go. ”Save your old father’s life! Many times you have said, ’Father, we can die for you.’ Now the time has come to prove it!” But these things are always said; they are polite nothings. The sons started looking at each other.

Somebody was seventy, somebody was seventy-five, somebody was sixty; they themselves were getting very old. The youngest was just twenty. The youngest son stood up and he said, ”I am ready to go.” Nobody could believe it! His ninety-nine brothers could not believe it; they thought he was a fool. And he had not lived yet, not at all. He was only twenty, just on the threshold of the beginning. Even Death felt compassion. Death took the young man aside, whispered in his ear, ”Are you a fool? Your older brothers are not ready, they have lived long. Seventy-five years somebody has lived – he is not ready. 

And you are ready? Your father does not want to die. He is a hundred years old, and you are only twenty.”

The young man said something very beautiful, something of tremendous import. He said, ”Seeing this, that my father has lived one hundred years and he has ALL that one can have, and he is still not satisfied, I see the futility of life. What is the point? I may live one hundred years and the situation will be the same. And if it was only my father then I would have thought, ’Maybe he is an exception.’ But my brothers – seventy-five, seventy, sixty-five, sixty – have also lived long. They have enjoyed every kind of thing; now what else is there to enjoy?

They are getting old and they are not satisfied. So one thing is certain: this is not the way to become satisfied. Hence I am ready, and I am coming with you, not in any despair but in tremendous understanding. I am coming with you with great cheerfulness that I have not to pass through this torture, these one hundred years of torture which my father has had to suffer. He has not yet become able enough to go with you.” And the story continues. One hundred years again passed; they came and were gone, nothing was noticed. 

Again Death knocked. When Death knocked, only then did Yayati become aware again that one hundred years had passed. He said, ”But I am not ready!” And this went on happening, and each time a son went with Death, and for one thousand years Yayati lived. This is really a symbolic story. After one thousand years Death came, and Death said, ”What do you think now?” Yayati said, ”I am coming. Enough is enough! I have seen that nothing can ever be fulfilled here. Desires go on growing; you fulfill one desire and ten others arise. It is a process ad infinitum. 

Now I am coming willingly, and now I can say that my first son who went with you and was only twenty years old had intelligence. I was stupid. It took one thousand years for me to see it and he could see it when he was only twenty. That is intelligence! ” If you are intelligent you will see the futility of greed. If you are intelligent you will start living rather than preparing to live. Greed is preparing to live. And you can go on preparing, and the time to live will never come. If you are intelligent you will not miss today for tomorrow. You will not sacrifice this moment for another moment, you will live this moment in its totality. 

Source: “The Guest” – Osho

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