*This too shall pass

My personal experience with an allied philosophy is also in this page. 

The monk storyThe monk story

A monk visited a kingdom and at the end of the visit, he gave the king a small sealed box. He told the king to keep it in his pocket all the time and open it only when he felt his life was coming to an end.

After some time the king was attacked by a neighboring king’s army and lost the battle. He ran away with his faithful band of soldiers and was being chased by enemy soldiers. On the way, he lost all his men while defending him. He was running all alone desperate to save himself. He finally reached the edge of a deep valley. If he went forward he would fall into the valley and die. If he stayed there he would be caught by enemy soldiers and killed. He felt that his life was coming to an end either way. He remembered about the small box given by the monk lying in his pocket for many years. He opened it and found only a piece of paper. Written on it were just four words “This Too Shall Pass”. He was disappointed that no magic power sprang up from inside to save his life. But he trusted the wisdom of the monk. He took a deep breath, calmed himself and gained composure. He tried to make sense of the four words in the message of the monk.

He looked back in the direction he came from and to his delight he did not find any of the enemy soldiers. Even after a long time none came in sight. Apparently the enemy soldiers lost track of him quite some time back. Now he felt safe and walked carefully to the nearby village. His countrymen were happy to see him alive and provided all the support he needed. He gradually reassembled his loyal army and recaptured his kingdom.

What saved his life and helped him regain his kingdom? Only those four words “This Too Shall Pass”. They made him look at his crisis situation from a totally different angle, helped him regain his composure, see the absence of threat to his life and grasp the opportunity in that bleak situation. If he did not heed those four words “This too shall pass”, he would have jumped to an honorable death, not willing to be captured and face a humiliating death in the hands of the enemy.

Some problems are solved by ignoring them

This reminds me of an allied philosophy that I heard from the General Manager of the company I worked for in India.

We faced a crisis situation due to work stoppage in the manufacturing shop where our Industrial Engineering department revised some standard times based on time studies. The workers were unhappy as their incentive earnings would be affected in the short term though they would be making it up by reducing their prevailing idle times. They stopped work demanding compensation. A team of us from our department and the production department went to the General Manager of the plant and unburdened our distress. We looked at him hopefully, expecting him to come up with a magic solution from his rich experience.

The General Manager continued to listen but gave no response. He looked cool as ice even after 30 minutes of presentation by all of us. We felt he did not share our crisis perception and agitation one bit. Seeing his coolness was in a sense, comforting to us. If the General Manager with much larger responsibility could be so cool why should we be so worried?

We sensed he was offering no magic solution. One of us finally gathered courage and asked him “Sir! We wonder how you could be so cool when all of us are in such a desperate situation? What is the secret of your coolness?”

He calmly replied “My dear friends! Some problems are solved by ignoring them”. We all laughed heartily and came out of his room feeling relieved though under crisis. In a few days, the workers who were losing wages cooled down and an amicable solution emerged to resolve the crisis and resume production.

Even after many decades, his words of wisdom born out of experience ring in my mind.

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Parent page: Mind related articles

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