The King was getting old and he knew it. Under his direction, his personal physicians had prescribed magic herbs and elixirs, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that the shadow of death was gaining on him day by day. He assembled the greatest minds in the land to give him advice on how to triumph over death, but none could tell him with any certainty the path to take. Even with all the worldly powers at his disposal, he became fearful and despondent. Finally, in utter desperation, he had his courtiers bring to the palace a great Master, a recognized man of wisdom in every sphere of life.
“How can I help you, great King?” the master asked as he bowed low to the floor.
“I am going to ask you the most important question I have ever asked, and I expect an honest answer,” the King replied.
“My answers are always honest, even at the cost of my life,” the Master replied. “What is your question?”
“I know that I am going to die soon. I want to know what will happen to me after death,” the King said in a trembling voice. “Will I continue on in some way?”
“I don’t know,” the Master replied simply.
“You don’t know?” The King was astonished, almost angry. “How can that be? You are a Master of Wisdom, are you not?”
“Yes, great King. But not a dead one,” the Master replied.
(My retelling of one of my favorite wisdom stories)