The King’s Wisdom

a tale created by Susi Wolf ©2006. The following original tale, shaped like a traditional teaching story, has been used by Susi Wolf in her healing work. The version that she sent was a transcript of her oral telling. It has been edited in order to make it more available to others to be used from a written text. When using the story it is suggested that you acknowledge Susi, and also respectfully do not reprint it.

After the tale, which is best read out loud, she offers responses from people who have heard the story rather than an essay which is our usual format. The quotes include clients who are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction.

A wise king ruled a certain land for many years.

One day two thieves arrived in his Kingdom. For two days they watched the King as he walked through the marketplace or sat with his subjects beside a lake. They were astonished by his willingness to mingle among ordinary people, and waited until he was alone.

Early one morning they saw the King by himself. He was seated quietly by the lake watching the sun rise. They drew their daggers and threatened to kill him if he did not give them his jewels and his purse.

The King looked at the two strangers, and then calmy gave them his satchel filled with gold. He invited them to share what food and drink he had, saying “Forever remember that a King showed you love and kindness when you showed him your greed.”

The thieves departed, deeply moved by what had taken place.

Word spread quickly about what had happened. And, one villager hearing the tale did as the thieves had done and waited until the King was again alone by the lake. He took his dagger and threatened the king as well.

The King looked up, “What do you wish?”

The man said, “I have come to kill you unless you give me your jewels and purse!” Then he added, “Can I have my gold now?”

The King smiled and said, “no.”

“Why not?” stammered the man. “When two strangers threatened you they received gold. Would you do less for your own subject?”

The King sighed and answered, “Those two strangers were wounded by life. It is obvious that all they have known is misery and hardship. They needed the experience of love and compassion to show them another way to satisfy their needs. You, on the other hand, have been surrounded by family and friends your entire life. You lack for nothing. Your only motivation is pure greed. I offer you another kind of compassion by not giving you the gold. So, kill me if you must, but no reward will come your way.”

With that the King arose and walked slowly back to his court . The man sat down by the lake and wept.

Narratives about Story Usage

“My experience of recovering addicts responding to this story has been positive. Even those I do not have direct quotes from have listened intently and shown engagement during the telling. Often times they will smile and nod or say “Right on” afterwards. I can hear them talking about the story and the crux of the conversations is about having another chance, about not being judged, about someone caring about them. They seem to grasp that the food and drink given by the King was not literal and that they have received gifts from counselors, mentors, etc. – Susi Wolf

Here are some typical responses from people in general, including those with alcohol/drug addition:

“It gives me another chance. I might be able to have another chance.”

“Just goes to show that people can’t be pigeon-holed. We all are different and need different things at different times.”

“So true. Greed should not be rewarded.”

Here are some responses from people currently recovering from alcohol/drug addition:

“People know only what they experience until they are taught different.”

“I feel like I continue in domestic violence because I have not been taught different.”

“Things are not as simple as they may seem.”

“I am glad someone is giving me a chance (by being in the shelter).”

“As a recovering person, my response to the part about the King surrendering is this: it reminded me of when one finally surrenders your addiction a part of your motivations may be anger at having to let go of your addictive substance or fear at what will happen if you stop but greater fear if you don’t stop. You may even come from an almost greedy place of not wanting to lose anything else in your life. Maybe you are just plan tired and exhausted of being in the addictive cycle. I think there are a lot of reasons. However, the main thing is most people really don’t want to let go and surrender but have found themselves in a place that they have no other choice. The great paradox is that once you surrender you find “riches and abundance” far more than you ever had when you were using. So, for me the story triggers the experience of having received great love, and healing from Spirit even when I initially came to recovery very selfishly in many ways. I think if I had continued to be the “user” after recovery and not given back it would be like the second set of men. Anyway, that’s what I get from the story. I like that there is no right or wrong about story.”

Here are some responses from therapists currently working with those recovering from alcohol/drug addition:

“As a therapist I due feel it would be appropriate to tell to recovering people. I would be less likely to think it would be appropriate in the Domestic Violence group.”

“As a therapist I believe this is a powerful story for women to recognize they have an opportunity for change. To reinforce that childhood experiences are very powerful influences on who they are. To demonstrate there are opportunities for change.”

“The story is awesome! My first reaction is that this is more a story for helping professionals who may be judgmental and critical of their clients seeking help. It is a big eye opener to see life from someone else’s perspective who has been neglected and traumatized on a daily basis.”

“I have mixed feelings about it being told to clients. There are some traumatized folks who feel the world owes them and choose to remain a victim with entitlements for life. I am thinking this story would not be beneficial for them.”

About Susi Wolf

Susi Spirita Wolf comes from a background in acting, professional clowning, writing and storytelling. She is a therapeutic storyteller using healing tales in drug/alcohol recovery programs, domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, crisis situations, as well as the penal system. She is currently residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico,and continues work in domestic violence shelters, offender programs, drug/alcohol recovery groups, grief, trauma centers, youth detention, a children’s hospital, and at the local zoo where she incorporates healing storytelling to encompass environmental issues and endangered species, as well.


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