The king who had three sons and needed to choose his heir

1001 Tales Discourses

“You cannot hoard flowers, that is one of the most beautiful things about flowers,” says Osho. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.


I have heard an ancient parable….

A great king had three sons and he wanted to choose one to be his heir.

And it was very difficult, because all three were very intelligent, very courageous. And they all were twins, of the same age, so there was no way to judge. Whom should he choose? So he asked a great sage and the sage suggested an idea.

And the king went home and he asked all the three sons to come. And he gave them each one bag of flower seeds and told them that he was going for a religious pilgrimage – for a Teertha Yatra.

“It will take a few years – one, two, three, maybe more. And this is a kind of test for you. These seeds you will have to give back to me when I return. And whosoever protects them best will become my heir.”

And he left for the pilgrimage.

The first son thought, “What should I do with these seeds?” He locked them in an iron safe – because when the father comes he has to return them as they are.

The second son thought, “If I lock them up, just as my brother has done, these seeds will die. And a dead seed is not a seed at all. And my father may argue that ‘I had given you live seeds, there was a possibility for them to grow – but these seeds are dead; they cannot grow. So you are not returning the same thing to me as I have given to you.'”

So he went into the market and sold the seeds and kept the money. And he thought, “When my father comes, I will go to the market, purchase new seeds and give him back, better than the first.”

But the third was the best. He went back into the garden and threw the seeds all over the place.

After three years, when the father came back, the first son opened his safe. Those seeds were all dead, stinking. And the father said, “What! These are the seeds I have given to you? They had the possibility to bloom into flowers and give great perfume – and these seeds are stinking. These are not my seeds!” And the son said, “Father, they are the same seeds.” The father said, “You are a materialist.”

He went to the second son. He rushed to the market, purchased seeds, came back home and said, “These are the seeds.” The father said, “But these are not the same; these are not exactly the same. You are better than the first, but yet not as capable as I would like you to be. You are a psychologist.”

Yes, a little better than the body is the mind – a little better than the materialist is the person who believes in the mind.

He went to the third. With great hope and fear too: “What has he done?” And the third took him back into the garden and there were millions of plants blooming, millions of flowers all around.

And the son said, “These are the seeds you had given to me. Soon I will collect the seeds and give them back to you. Right now they are getting ready to be collected.”

The father said, “You are the spiritualist. You are my heir. This is how one should behave with seeds.”

The hoarder will not understand life, and the calculating mind will also miss it. Only a creative mind can understand it. That is the beauty of flowers – they cannot be hoarded… They represent love: love cannot be hoarded.

It is not just an accident that the flower has remained a symbol for love, down the ages, in all the countries, for all kinds of societies. It is not just an accident. Love is like a flower – when it starts blooming in you, you have to distribute, you have to share, you have to give. You have to find people to enjoy it. And when somebody receives your love you feel tremendously grateful to him. Otherwise that flower would have died – unknown, unappreciated. And the more you give, the more love grows.

Osho, Zen, The Path of Paradox – Talks on Zen, Vol 2, Q 2 (excerpt)

ShantiShanti is a regular contributor
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales
All articles by this author on Osho News

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