Yayati, a hundred-year old king, was ripe enough to die. Yet the fire of his craving was not extinguished. He was dying but clinging on for more.
And so Yayati cried to Death:
“Oh, spare me another hundred years. All my desires are still unfulfilled. I was simply preparing and preparing. I have not enjoyed my life.
“Now that I have conquered the whole world, now that I have all the riches, the most beautiful women, now that everything is ready — I was just thinking to relax and enjoy.
“Spare me just one hundred years more so that I can live to my heart’s content.”
Death laughed and said:
“Yes, I can spare you a hundred years more, but I will have to take one of your sons instead. You have to ask them.”
And so Yayati summoned all his sons. And he asked them.
The eldest, a man of eighty himself, looked down and away from his father’s eyes. He was not ready to say yes. He had lived only eighty years; and if his father was not contented with a hundred, how could he be with only eighty?
The second eldest, seventy-five years old, looked down and said nothing too. He was unwilling. And so it was with the third, the fourth, the fifth… Until the youngest, a boy of eight, finally stood up and said yes.
Death was surprised, and questioned the boy:
“Your other brothers — one is eighty, one is seventy-five, one is seventy, sixty, sixty-five, fifty — these people are not ready to go and you are the youngest, you have not lived at all. Why are you ready to go?”
The young boy replied:
“If my father could not live in a hundred years, if my eldest brother could not live in eighty years, if my other brothers… nobody has been able to live, then the whole project is nonsense. I don’t want to waste time. If I have to die, it is better to die now. Why wait for many more years? If these people have not been able to manage, it is absolutely certain it is unmanageable. Let my father try a hundred years more.”
Death agreed and took the boy away.
After a hundred years, Death returned and the situation was the same.
Yayati was dying but clinging on for more:
“I know that I should now be ready, but nothing is fulfilled yet.
“I may have all my riches and beautiful women, but I havn’t lived a fulfilled life. Because nothing is fulfilled, nothing is fulfilled yet –
“A new desire has arisen and I want more! I want to live at least one time more, a hundred years more, just spare me one time more…”
(adapted from Osho’s adaptation of a story in Dhammapada)