This too shall pass

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 the neighboring king’s army and  lost the battle. He ran away with a band of soldiers, chased by a large group of 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 sealed box given by the monk. He opened it and found nothing but a piece of paper. Written on it were only 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. Gradually he 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 and see the opportunity in that near death scenario. If he did not heed those words, he would have jumped to an honorable death, not willing to be captured by the enemy 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 one of our senior managers.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 were reduced. 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 expected a magic solution from him with his rich experience.The General Manager continued to listen but gave no response. We felt he did not share our crisis perception and agitation, one bit. He looked cool as ice, even after 30 minutes of our presentation. Seeing his coolness was in a sense, comforting. If the General Manager with much larger responsibility could be so cool why should we be so worried?

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 lighter in heart.

In a few days, the workers cooled down and a solution emerged to resolve the crisis and resume production. Even after 20 years, his words of wisdom born out of experience ring in my mind some times.

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Parent page: Mind related articles

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