A minister once fell from grace. He left court and joined a group of dervishes. By virtue of their company, he achieved peace of mind and a reformed character.
The ruler soon changed his mind and decided to reinstate the disgraced minister. The man refused and said: "I prefer to live in retirement than to busy myself with politics. Whoever opts for a quiet life is free to forget the snarling calamities of rivals. I may no longer have the minister's special pen case, I may have torn up all my papers, but at least I no longer have to put up with bad mouthing from my critics."
The ruler replied: "I always need a competent and wise man to help run the state."
"The sign of wisdom in a man, “the ex-minister replied, "is precisely not to be taken in by the false attractions of politics. Why is the Huma superior to other birds? Because it is content to live off dry bones and thus never oppresses any living thing. Have you heard the story of the lynx? It was asked why it chose to serve in the court of the lion and replied that at court it could live safely protected from its enemies and well-fed with the left-overs of the king's meals. The lynx was also asked why it did not, like other courtiers,
manoeuvre to get itself into the innermost circle of the lion's most trusted companions. Whereupon it said: 'I cannot be safe from the king's anger if I am too close to him.' The Zoroastrian can spend his whole life tending the fire he worships; the fire will burn him up none the less, if ever he falls into it! Your Majesty's companions never know whether they will make a fortune or lose their heads! It is well known that one should be aware of the ruler's fickle moods; he takes offense at a polite greeting one moment and the next he showers rewards on someone who has just insulted him. To be a courtier, you have to be as slippery as an eel; to be a wise man, you have to aim higher. Let politicians flatter and lie and cheat their way to the top! I know my own human worth: that dignity is enough for me."