The Education of a King's Son
Contributed by DMDesiderata - original source unknown
There was a powerful king in ancient times who had fought his way to the top and worked hard to keep his job. He was very pleased when he had a son and did not want the son to have to go through the same tough school of learning by experience. So, the king called together his wise advisors and asked them to organize knowledge so that his son could learn what he would need to know to be a good king without having to go through the same trials.
The advisors said they could and would get right on the job.
The wise men came back a few years later and said that they had built a great library that had organized all of the important books and thoughts of the age in one place. The king went out and looked at the library and then said to the wise men.
My son is so small and the library is so great that I don't think he would ever get through it. Could you organize the knowledge into something that one person could deal with and be able to learn.
The advisors said that they could and would get right on with the job.
The wise men came back a few years later, though this task took longer, and brought with them a great set of books -- an encyclopedia of all knowledge. The books filled the kings chamber and he looked at them with awe. He was impressed with the scholarship and wisdom of his advisors but there was a problem. The king called back the advisors.
My son is now a young man and is traveling the empire to learn about our peoples and gain experience. He is learning about taxation and governance in the provinces and the administration of justice. These are far too many books for him to take on his travels. Could you boil this down into one book that has the most important information.
The advisors said that it could be done and that they would do it but that it would be hard because there was so much that was important for a young boy to learn. They would get right to work on getting it together.
A few years later, the wise men came back with a huge book. Four of them brought it into the throne room and the king leafed through it. Good. Good. This is very good, he said. This is just what I would have liked to have had when I started as a young king. But you know that my son has taken over many of my duties and he is now defending our country.
He is at the front with the army and he has to travel light. Could you boil down all of this knowledge into one sentence that I could send him that would help him in his decisions. Something that I could send him in a message.
The advisors said they would do their best and called a great conference of all of the wise from around the country. After long debates and much thought they came up with one sentence that a king should remember.
The king was excited when they came back and remembered what he had asked them to do for it had only taken them a few months rather than years. The oldest and wisest of the wise men came forward and handed the king a paper. On the paper was one sentence.
"This day too will pass."
The king read it and thought. Then, he spoke. "Wise, Very Wise, and so true," he said.
I will send this off to my son who is now had a great victory and is taking over a foreign land to add to our country.
Then, after a moment of reflection the king said: "You have done so well in this task that I would like you to do one more thing for me. The sentence was so powerful and helpful I wonder if you could boil it down to one word. One word that my son could always keep in mind to help him when he soon comes to take my place on the throne.
The very old and wise advisors took a moment to think and gathered into a group in the corner of the room. Voices were raised and then there was silence. The oldest and wisest came back to the king and said that they had a word that was important to keep in mind.
The king sat up and focused his full attention on the old man who was looking at the floor.
"What is the word?" asked the king.
"Maybe" said the wise old man.