Diogenes and the King

Diogenes lived naked, and he was a strong man. Four people who were hijacking people and selling them as slaves in the market thought, “This is a great catch, this man can bring us a lot of money. We have sold many slaves, but none of them were so strong, so beautiful, so young. We can get as high a price as we demand; and there is going to be a great competition in the marketplace when we put this man on the pedestal for sale. But,” they thought, “four are not enough to catch him. He alone could kill us all.”

Diogenes heard what they were saying about him. He was sitting by the side of the river, just enjoying the cool breeze of the evening, underneath a tree; and behind the tree those four were planning what to do. He said, “Don’t we worried. Come here! You need not worry that I will kill you, I never kill anything. And you need not worry that I will fight, resist you — no. I don’t fight anybody, I don’t resist anything. You want to sell me as a slave?”

Embarassed, afraid, those four people said, “That’s what we were thinking. We are poor… if you are willing.”

He said, “Of course I am. If I can help you in your poverty in some way, it is beautiful.”
So they brought out chains. He said, “Throw them in the river; you need not chain me. I will walk ahead of you. I don’t believe in escaping from anything. In fact, I am getting excited about the idea of being sold, standing on a high pedestal, and hundreds of people trying to get me. I am excited about this auction — I am coming!”

These four people became a little more afraid: this man is not only strong and beautiful, he seems to be mad also; he could be dangerous. But now there was no way for them to escape. Diogenes said, “If you try to escape, you will be risking your own life. Just follow me, all four of you. Put me on the pedestal in the market.”

Unwillingly, they followed him. They wanted to take him, but he went ahead of them! He told those people, “DOn’t be afraid, and don’t try to escape. You have given me a great idea, I am grateful to you. This is my responsibility; I am going to the marketplace. You put me up for auction.

“What type of man was this?” they wondered. But there was no way to back out now, so they followed him. And when he was put on a high pedestal so that everybody could see, there was almost silence, pin-drop silence. People had never seen such a proportionate body, so beautiful — as if made of steel, so strong.

Before the auctioneer said anything, Diogenese declared, “Listen people! Here is a master to be sold to any slave, because these four poor people need money. So start the auction, but remember, you are purchasing a master.”

A king purchased him. Of course, he could do it — more and more money he offered at the auction. Many people were interested but finally a sum, larger than any that had ever been heard of before, was given to those four people. Diogenes said to them, “Are you happy now? You can leave now, and I will go with this slave.”

On the way to the palace as they were riding in the chariot, the king said to Diogenes, “Are you crazy or something? You think yourself a master? I am a king, and you think me a slave?”

Diogenes said, “Yes, and I am not crazy, but you are crazy. I can prove it right now.” At the back of the chariot was the queen. Diogenes said, “Your queen is already interested in me, she is finished with you. It is dangerous to purchase a master.”

The king was shocked. Of course, he was nothing in comparison to Diogenes. The king took out his sword and asked his queen, “What he is saying, is it true? If you say the truth, your life will be saved — that is my promise. But if you say an untruth, and I find it out later on, I will behead you.”

Fearful, afraid, still the queen said, “It is true. Before him, you are nothing. I am enchanted, allured; the man has some magic. You aare just a poor guy compared to him. This is the truth.”

Of course, the king stopped the chariot and told Diogenes, “Get out of the chariot. I set you free; I don’t want to take such risks in my palace.”

Diogenes said, “Thank you. I am a man who cannot be made a slave, for the simple reason that every responsibility I take on myself. I have not left those four people feeling guilty — they did not bring me there, I came of my own accord. They must be feeling obliged. And it is your chariot, if you want me to get out, that is perfectly good. I am not accustomed to chariots at all, my legs are strong enough. I am a naked man, a golden chariot does not fit with me.”

From Awareness: The Courage to Be Yourself by Osho.

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