“If you are humble, the whole existence becomes a teacher to you,” says Osho commenting on a Sufi story. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.
A powerful king, ruler of many domains, was in a position of such magnificence that wise men were his mere employees.
That’s possible; you can hire wise men. If you have enough money wise men can be mere employees to you – but you will not learn that way. He had many wise men. But I have never heard that any emperor ever learned anything from those wise men.
It is said of the great emperor, Akbar, that he had nine wise men in his court. He could afford them. They were called the nine jewels, but I don’t see that he ever learned anything from them. Because learning needs a different relationship: learning needs that the learner should bow down, surrender. How can you surrender to your own servants? It is almost impossible! You can order them, but you cannot surrender.
It is reported, it happened in the life of Akbar, that he called his nine wise men and he was very angry and he said, ‘You are here, and people say you are the greatest wise men in the world today, but I have not been able to learn anything from you. What is the matter? You are here and I remain the same; then what are you doing here?’
A child had come with a wise man; he wanted to see the court.
He laughed. The wise men were silent and the child laughed.
Akbar said, ‘Why are you laughing? It is insulting to the court! Has not your father told you about manners?’
The child said, ‘I am laughing because these nine wise men are silent, and I know why they are silent. And I know why you have not been able to be benefited by them.’
Akbar looked at the child’s face – very innocent, but very ancient also. Whenever a child is very innocent, you can see the deep ancientness in his eyes – because no child is a child. He has lived, experienced much; he carries all the knowledge from all his experiences in the past.
Akbar said, ‘Then can you teach me something?’
The child said, ‘Yes!’
Akbar said, ‘Then teach!’
The child said, ‘Then you have to follow me. You come down here where I am sitting, and I will sit on the throne. And then you ask like a disciple, not like a master.’
And it is said that Akbar understood. Those nine wise men had been absolutely useless. He could not learn, not because they couldn’t teach – they could teach – but he was not ready, and he was not receptive, and he was not humble enough.
It is said that he sat down, and the child sat on the throne and he said, ‘Now you ask like a disciple, not like an emperor.’
Akbar never asked anything. And it is said that he thanked the child, touched his feet and said, ‘There is no need to ask. Just by sitting in a humble attitude near your feet, I have learned much.’
Humbleness is the basic thing. Even without a wise man, if you are humble, you will learn much. You can learn from the trees and the springs and the clouds and the winds. If you are humble, the whole existence becomes a teacher to you. But if you are not humble, and a Buddha is there, no intimacy happens. A Buddha is around you, but no intimacy happens – you are not humble. You would like to learn, but without bending, without bringing down your ego.
Osho, Until You Die – Discourses on the Sufi Way, Ch 8 (excerpt)