Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the fourth wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.
He also loved the third wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.
He also loved his second wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.
The King’s first wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!
One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I will be all alone.”
Thus, he asked the fourth wife, “I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I am dying, will you follow me and keep me company?”
“No way!”, replied the fourth wife, and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.
The sad King then asked the third wife, “I have loved you all my life. Now that I’m dying, will you follow me and keep me company?”
“No!”, replied the third wife. “Life is too good! When you die, I am going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.
He then asked the second wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you have always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?”
“I am sorry, I cannot help you out this time!”, replied the second wife. “At the very most, I can only walk with you to your grave.” Her answer struck him like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.
Then a voice called out: “I will go with you. I will follow you no matter where you go.” The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was very skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect.
Greatly grieved, the King said, “I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!”
In truth, we too have four wives in our lives:
The fourth wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it is temporary and will be left behind
The third wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.
The second wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.
And the first wife is the Spirit – often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. Cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now for the state of the spirit is all that really matters. All else is secondary.