There was once a great and wise king and his greatest desire was to convey his wisdom to the subjects under his dominion. However, because his wisdom was so lofty and his subjects were so uncivilized, they could not understand his wisdom and refused to heed his words. Even more, to them the words of the king were folly because of their limited understanding and their ignorance.
The king had a son and the son was also wise but not as wise as the king. Nevertheless, he understood much of the king’s wisdom. The king sent the son out to the provinces, thinking that because the son’s wisdom was somewhat less than the king’s, he could envelop the king’s wisdom in parables and stories so that his subjects could understand it. This way they could come to understand something of the king and more willingly take upon themselves his rule.
But it was not an easy task for the son; the people constantly argued with him and chastised him and sometimes didn’t even allow him to speak, even in parables and stories that they could understand. But the son, knowing that what he was doing was what the king wanted him to do, was relentless and continued even given all the obstacles.
In time, the son had some success and slowly some of those who loved the king began to understand his wisdom [through the son’s tutelage]. But over time, since the son was alone and distant from the king, living amid his detractors who made his life miserable, the son’s own mind began to weaken and he eventually fell into a bitter depression. And since his mind became weak he was no longer able to teach his constituents the wisdom of the king, and [in time] he couldn’t even open his mouth and speak of the king’s wisdom at all. And with this, he became more and more despised in the eyes of the people. Even those who were sympathetic to him beforehand, given that he was sent by the king and he held the king’s wisdom in his mouth, now they, too, abandoned him and wanted nothing to do with him. Moreover, they too began to ridicule him and laugh at him as the detractors had done before, heaven forbid.
And when the king’s son saw all this, not only that he could no longer convey the greatness of the king, but even now his own wisdom was diminished, he knew if more time passed everything would be lost. He sat and cried and contemplated his options. To return to the king wasn’t an option because the king commanded him not to show his face without first teaching the people the king’s wisdom. In addition, when the people will see that he was abandoning them, they will try to kill him on the way. He thought perhaps if he was able to bring the king to the people, it might be better because then his father would see this bitter and dire situation. In that case, the king may send his son back home until his own mind was strengthened once again. Or, because much of his own diminished knowledge was because of his own bitter depression, when he sees his father and feels the joy [of that reunion], he will regain his strength and spirit and will once again attain the level of knowledge he had before. And thus he could once again teach the people of his father’s wisdom.
But how would he bring the king? His father told him that he will only come to him when the son reveals the wisdom of the king to the people, exhibiting the greatness of the king. But if he will deceive the king and call him anyway, the king will come thinking his wisdom has been revealed and he will see that this was all to embarrass him, to the contrary, this will cause the detractors to hate the king forever. In addition, his son who came to teach them, will be seen as a fool and even insane, heaven forbid. This will increase the acrimony more than before.
The son became very worried and his spirit sank and he became increasingly confused. And when the son lost all hope he said to himself, “I will call my father and when he sees me crying he will comfort his son. My father will see there is no other alternative. I have been hopelessly confused and I find myself in danger.”
And if the son truly knew how to entreat his father, not only would the king not be angry at him, but seeing him would give him renewed strength and lift his spirits. And then, said the son, I will be able to continue my work passing on his wisdom to the people. However, if even now the son cannot entreat the king and having already lost his understanding of what he has done, deceives the king, the king will become even angrier. It’s not only that the son will have failed in his mission to convey the wisdom of the king to the people but he will be guilty of deception.