There was a king, and he once said to the court sages: I have a ring with one of the finest diamonds in the world, and I want to hide a message under the stone that can be useful in a situation of extreme despair. I will give this ring to my heirs, and I want it to serve faithfully. Think of what kind of message will be there. It must be very short to fit in the ring.
The sages knew how to write treatises, but did not express themselves in one short sentence. They thought and thought, but did not come up with anything.
The king complained about the failure of his venture to a faithful old servant who raised him from infancy and was part of the family. And the old man said to him: I’m not a sage, I’m not educated, but I know such a message. For many years spent in the palace, I met a lot of people. And once I served a visiting mystic whom your father invited. And he gave me this message. I ask that you don’t read it now. Save it under the stone and open it only when there’s no way out at all.
The king listened to the old servant.
After some time, the enemies attacked the country and the king lost the war. He fled on his horse and his enemies pursued him. He was alone, his enemies were many. He rode to the end of the road. There was a huge deep cliff before him, if he fell there, it is the end. He could not go back, as the enemies were approaching. He already heard the clatter of their horses’ hooves. He had no way out. He was in complete despair.
And then he remembered the ring. He opened it and found an inscription: “This too shall pass.”
After reading the message, he felt that everything was quiet. Apparently the pursuers got lost and proceeded in the wrong direction. Horses were no longer heard. The king was filled with gratitude to the servant and the unknown mystic. The words were powerful. He closed the ring and set out on the road. He gathered his army and returned his state.
On the day when he returned to the palace, they arranged a magnificent meeting, a feast for the whole world – the people loved their king. The king was happy and proud. The old servant came up to him and said softly: Even in this moment, look at the message again.
The King said, Now I am a winner, people are celebrating my return; I’m not in despair, not in a hopeless situation.
Listen to this old servant, the servant answered. The message works not only in moments when everything is bad but also in moments of victory.
The king opened the ring and read: “This too shall pass.”
Again he felt a silence fall over him, although he was in the midst of a noisy dancing crowd. His pride dissolved. He understood the message. He was a wise man. And then the old servant said to the king: Do you remember everything that happened to you? Nothing and no feeling is permanent. As night changes into day, so moments of joy and despair replace each other. Accept them as the nature of things, as part of life.
This is the parable I referred to in the post on What makes you not a Buddhist. What thoughts or feelings arise in you upon reading it? Do you recognize yourself, your thoughts and feelings? Or is it far removed from you, something you’ve not given a lot of thought to?