Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.
He also loved his 3rd 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 2nd 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 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the 1st wife. Although she loved him deeply he hardly ever noticed 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 4 wives with me, but when I die, I’ll be all alone.”
Thus, he asked the 4th 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 4th wife and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart.
The sad King then asked his 3rd wife, “I have loved you all my life now that I’m dying will you follow me and keep me company?”
“No!” she replied “Life is too good! When you die, I am going to remarry!” His heart sank and turned cold.
He then asked the 2nd wife, “I have always turned to you for help and you’ve always been there for me. When I die will you follow me and keep me company?” “I’m sorry, I can’t help you out this time!” replied the 2nd wife. “At the very most, I can send you to your grave.” Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.
Then a voice called out: “I’ll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go.”
The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said “I should have taken better care of you when I had the chance!”
In truth, we all have four wives in our lives:
Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort was lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die.
Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others.
Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.
And our 1st wife is our soul – often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However our identity as a spirit soul is going to be maintained wherever we go, whatever bodies we acquire and whatever destination we achieve. So, we should cultivate, strengthen and cherish this existential reality now.