A king asked his wise men in the court, “I am making a very beautiful ring for myself. I have got one of the best diamonds possible. I want to keep hidden inside the ring some message that may be helpful to me in a time of utter despair. It has to be very small so that it can be hidden underneath the diamond in the ring.”
They were all wise men, they all were great scholars; they could have written great treatises. But to give him a message of not more than two or three words which would help him in moments of utter despair…They thought, they looked into their books, but they could not find anything.
The king had an old servant who was almost like his father – he had been his father’s servant. The king’s mother had died early and this servant had taken care of him, so he was not treated like a servant. The king had immense respect for him.
The old man said, “I am not a wise man, knowledgeable, scholarly; but I know the message – because there is only one message. And these people cannot give it to you; it can be given only by a mystic, by a man who has realized himself.
“In my long life in the palace I have come across all kinds of people, and once, a mystic. He had also been a guest of your father and I was put into his service. When he was departing, as a gesture of thankfulness for all my services he gave me this message” – and he wrote it on a small piece of paper, folded it and told the king, “Don’t read it, just keep it hidden in the ring. Only open it when everything else has failed – when there is no way out.”
And the time came soon. The country was invaded and the king lost his kingdom. He was running away on his horse just to save his life and the enemy horses were following him. He was alone; they were many. And he came to a place where the path stopped, came to a dead end; there was a cliff and a deep valley. To fall into it was to be finished. He could not go back, the enemy was there and he could hear the sounds of the hooves of the horses. He could not go forward, and there was no other way…
Suddenly he remembered the ring. He opened it, took out the paper, and there was a small message of tremendous value: it simply said, “This too will pass.” A great silence came over him as he read the sentence, “This too will pass.” And it passed.
Everything passes away; nothing remains in this world. The enemies who were following him must have got lost in the forest, must have moved on a wrong way; the hooves slowly, slowly were not heard any more.
The king was immensely grateful to the servant and to the unknown mystic. Those words proved miraculous. He folded the paper, put it back into the ring, gathered his armies again and conquered his kingdom back. And the day he was entering his capital, victorious, there was great celebration all over the capital, music, dance – and he was feeling very proud of himself.
The old man was walking by the side of his chariot. He said, “This time is also right: look again at the message.”