Osho comments on one of the many mysterious stories of the Sufis; “Whenever a mood comes to you … always remember: This, too, will pass.”
A powerful king, ruler of many domains, was in a position of such magnificence that wise men were his mere employees. And yet one day he felt himself confused and called his sages to him.
He said: “I do not know the cause, but something impels me to seek a certain ring, one that will enable me to stabilize my state. I must have such a ring and this ring must be one which, when I am unhappy, it will make me joyful, and at the same time, if I am happy and look upon it, I must be made sad.”
The wise men consulted one another and threw themselves into deep contemplation. Finally they came to a decision as to the character of this ring which would suit their king.
The ring which they devised was one upon which was inscribed the legend: ‘This, too, will pass’.
I know another version of the story, and I think the other version is better. The other version is that they couldn’t come to any conclusion. And that seems right. How can experts come to a conclusion? They can fight, argue. Have you ever known people who are argumentative, philosophers, theologians? Have you ever known them to come to any conclusion? No. Even if you give them a conclusion already concluded, on that conclusion they will fight and move in different directions. That’s how it has been happening always.
It happened in this century with Freud – a man of much knowledge, but not a wise man, not wise in the sense a Buddha is wise – a very deep, penetrating thinker. And, by and by, all his disciples – Karl Gustav Jung, Adler, and others – who had come to him thinking that there was a conclusion, that something had been found… it simply proved to be a crossroads where they separated. All his disciples went in different directions. And those who remained with him were minor figures; amongst those who remained with him there was not a single genius. All the geniuses departed – argued, fought, departed, and became enemies.
It is impossible for men of knowledge, knowledgeable men, to conclude anything.
The other version says they couldn’t conclude so they went to a Sufi saint and asked his advice. The Sufi saint had the ring already – wise men always have the ring already. He just took the ring off his finger, gave it to them, and told them, ‘Give it to the king. But tell him there is one condition: only when he feels that now it is impossible to tolerate, then he should open the ring. Hidden underneath the stone is the message, but he should not open it just out of curiosity because then he will miss the message. The message is there, but a right moment in your consciousness is needed to meet it. It is not a dead message that you can open and read. It is written under the stone, but a condition is to be fulfilled: when everything is lost, and the mind cannot do anything more, the confusion is total, the agony perfect, and you cannot do anything else, you are absolutely helpless, then only should it be opened – and the message will be there.’
And this is right. I would also like to make this condition, because without this condition it means the message is there and anybody can read it – then the message is not of much value. You have to rise to a certain consciousness; only then can you understand. The understanding is not in the words – the understanding is within you. The words will only trigger the understanding, that’s all, but it has to be there to be triggered.
The king followed the message. The country was lost, the enemy became victorious. Many moments came when he was just on the verge of taking off the stone and reading the message, but he found that it was still not total: ‘I’m still alive. Even if the kingdom is lost, I can regain it, it can be reconquered.’
He flew out of the kingdom just to save his life. The enemy is following him, he can hear the horses, their sounds coming nearer and nearer. And he goes on running. Friends are lost, his horse dies, then he runs on his feet. The feet have become bloody, cut everywhere. He cannot move even an inch and he has to run continuously. He’s hungry, and the enemy is coming nearer and nearer. And then he comes to a cul-de-sac. The road finishes, there is no more road ahead. There is just an abyss. And the enemy is coming closer and closer. He cannot go back; the enemy is there. He cannot jump. The abyss is so big, he will simply be dead. Now there seems to be no possibility – but he still waits for the condition. He says, ‘Still I am alive. Maybe the enemy will move in some other direction. Maybe if I jump into this abyss I will not die. The condition is not yet fulfilled.’ And then suddenly he feels the enemy is too close. And when he looks to jump he sees two lions who have by now just come in the abyss, and they are looking at him – hungry, ferocious. Now there is no moment left, and the enemy is coming nearer and nearer and nearer, and his last moments he can count just on the fingers.
Suddenly he takes the ring, opens it, looks behind the stone. There is a message and the message is: ‘This, too, will pass.’
Suddenly everything is relaxed – ‘This, too, will pass.’ And, of course, it happens: the enemy has moved in another direction, and he cannot hear their noise so much; they are moving further away. He sits down. He takes a good sleep, rest. And within ten days, he collects his armies, comes back, reconquers the country, is again in his palace. There is great jubilation and celebration. People are going crazy. They are dancing in the streets, there is much color and light and fireworks. And he is feeling so excited, and so happy, and his heart is beating so fast, that he thinks that he may die because of happiness. Suddenly he remembers the ring, opens it, looks into it. It is written there: ‘This, too, will pass.’ And he relaxes. And it is said that he attains to the perfect wisdom through this message: ‘This, too, will pass.’
Whenever a mood comes to you, of anger, hatred, passion, sex, misery, sadness, happiness, even while meditating, a moment of bliss, always remember: This, too, will pass. Let it become a constant mindfulness: This, too, will pass.
And what will happen to you if you can remember it continuously? Then happiness will not be happiness – just a phase, a cloud that comes and goes. It is not you! It comes and passes. It is not your being. It is something accidental. It is something on the periphery. You are the witness.
Osho, Until You Die – Discourses on the Sufi Way, Ch 8 (excerpt)