Dreams of a King
upon a time (perhaps it was yesterday or maybe even
tomorrow) in a land far away (or maybe closer than you
think) there lived a king who was plagued by a recurrent
nightmare, of a fruit tree that would bear no fruit.
his enormous wealth, never having learnt how to relate
to people, the King was in fact an extremely lonely
man. However, over the years he had learnt how to compensate
for his discomfort with people by spending more and
more time in his extensive gardens, which became so
much of an obsession with the King that nothing else
seemed to matter to him.
content with merely supervising the work on the land,
the King went to great pains to ensure it was fully
protected from any unwelcome intruders by surrounding
the Palace grounds with all the latest security measures
- ferocious guard dogs, high walls, fences of razor
wire and 24-hour video surveillance - all with the purpose
of ensuring his Garden of Eden was truly impenetrable.
In view of the King's obsession, the consternation the
recent spate of dreams had caused the monarch came as
no surprise to those who knew him well.
after night, as soon as the King laid his royal head
on the pillow and closed his eyes, the vision would
return to haunt him and give him no peace. At his wits
end, the sovereign turned to his advisors who summoned
the leading medical experts from all over the land to
examine him and diagnose the cause of his condition.
recommendations were as varied as their specialities,
ranging from sleeping on a bed of nails to the application
of blood-sucking leeches, from the King drinking three
glasses of his own urine daily to a strict seven-day
fast. Being a renowned gourmet, it was this last suggestion
that displeased him the most and he responded by having
the nutritionist who suggested it beheaded. Not surprisingly,
the visits from the various specialists dried up after
desperation, the King sent for his Head Gardener, a
wise old soul who was never afraid to say what he thought
regardless of whether it met with royal approval or
not. As an expert on the folklore of trees, surely his
trusted and loyal servant would be able to interpret
the meaning of the dream and so put an end to his suffering.
the Head Gardener heard the dream, his interpretation,
to the King's surprise, was a positive one. "Sometimes
the trees that do bear fruit only sustain those who
are beyond salvation and who serve no useful purpose
in any case. At least the tree in your dream cannot
be misused in this way."
hearing this, the King responded by asking to be left
on his own as he wanted time to reflect on his trusted
servant's strange interpretation, which left him even
more puzzled than he had been before. It was a hot,
sticky, summer afternoon and as he lay on the couch
by the window overlooking the gardens, he soon drifted
off to sleep.
usual, he found himself standing in front of the fruit
tree but this time it was dripping with fruit - exotic
fruit of all shapes and sizes, the likes of which the
King had never seen before. And the fruit tree was surrounded
by all the King's courtiers who were gorging themselves
on the succulent produce, stuffing themselves silly.
Meanwhile, the poor people excluded from the Royal Gardens
by the high railings, could only look on hungrily and
watch the proceedings. As for the King, he had never
noticed the crowds outside the railings before. In fact,
he had become so engrossed in his garden over the years,
to the detriment of everything else, that he'd forgotten
they even existed.
new dream, in a way, was even more disturbing than the
previous one and left the King a chastened man. He immediately
resolved to summon all his people to the Main Hall to
deliver a speech. Nobody could remember the last time
the King had shown any interest in addressing his subjects
so the Hall was packed to bursting point for this extraordinary
Never having had the opportunity to relate to my fellow
human beings as an equal, I have always felt uncomfortable
in the company of others and have devoted my life to
caring for my vegetables and trees instead. And in my
greed to protect what I falsely believed belonged to
me, I did everything in my power to ensure that the
fruit of my labour would be inaccessible to everyone
else. But I know now that we will be provided for and
that we should give thanks for what we will be given
even before we receive it. For it is only by showing
faith that our needs can be met. Instead of directing
our energies to protecting what was never intended to
belong to anyone in the first place, our time would
be better spent in ensuring its equal distribution to
all. So from this day on, I decree that the gates of
the Palace will always be open, open to everyone whatever
their status might be. And I have every confidence that
rather than leading to any shortage, the result will
be more than enough for everyone."
from that day on, nobody in the Kingdom ever went short
of food again. As for the King, by mingling among the
visitors who came to the Garden, dressed inconspicuously
in his overalls, he gradually learnt how to relate to
people and began to enjoy life in a way that he had
never imagined possible before. And the nightmares?
They never returned.