There is a great old Chinese story. A king was very angry with his prime minister. He had done something or other, so the king ordered him to be sentenced to death. It was the tradition that if somebody was to be executed by the king’s order, the king had to visit him one day before, to ask if he had some desire to be fulfilled. The last desire of the condemned man had to be fulfilled. And this man was no ordinary man – he had served the king for many years as his prime minister; he had been an intimate. But something went wrong, he did something and the king was angry so the next morning he was to be executed, hanged. The king came to see him twenty four hours before.
The prime minister was a brave man. He had been to many wars as a general. When the king came the prime minister started weeping and crying – tears rolling down. The king said: I would never have imagined that you, a man of such bravery, would be weeping and crying because you are going to be hanged tomorrow. Are you afraid of death?
The prime minister said, That is not the point. Death I have never been afraid of, it is something else but – leave it aside, now there is no time to do it.
The king became curious. He said, What is the matter? You tell me. I am here to fulfil your last desire. I promise you to fulfil it, you tell me. You have served the kingdom long, and I would like to fulfil it whatsoever it is; you just tell me.
The prime minister said, If you insist, then I will tell you. This is a long story. When I was young I was with a great Master, and he was an enlightened being, and he had many secrets with him. One secret I learnt. And that secret was that there is a rare type of horse which can be taught to fly, and my whole life I have been searching for that type of horse that can be taught to fly, but I couldn’t find one – and look at the irony of fate; the horse that you have come on is the right horse, and tomorrow morning I will be dead! And the whole science will go dead with me. The secret will be lost to humanity – that’s why I am crying.
The king said, The horse can fly? How much time will you take to teach it? – because the king became interested. If this horse can fly in the sky this will be something superb, incomparable, that no other king in the world can claim. He said, You forget about your sentence; you tell me how much time you will take.
The man said, It will take one year. The king said, Okay. There is no harm in it. For one year you try. If the horse flies, then not only will you not be hanged, but you will get married to my daughter and you will share my kingdom: half-half. But if the horse cannot fly, then you will be executed. So there is no harm in it; you come out – take the horse.
The man took the horse, went home – there his wife and children were crying and weeping because this was the last day, the next morning the husband, the father, would be dead. They could not believe their eyes – that he was coming back riding on a horse. They thought they must be dreaming. They wiped their eyes and they asked: What is the matter? How could you manage to come?
He told them the whole story. The wife again started crying and said, You are a fool, because I know very well you don’t know anything like that. You invented a lie. If you were going to lie then why say one year? You should have asked for fifty years, twenty years at least! The one year will pass so soon, and this will be a nightmare, because the whole year we will be trembling, because soon again you have to die.
The man said, Don’t be afraid, one year is too long! The king can die, I can die, at least the horse can die – you don’t be worried! Don’t you be worried, one year is long enough.
Reference Book: Tao The Three Treasures Volume 3
#Chapter 7, Difficult And Easy