Once a king happened to quench the thirst of a wandering monk. The monk, who thought to repay for this service, gave the king a ring and told him to look inside it if he ever happened to be in a very difficult moment. As it was bound to happen by destiny, the king one day went to hunt and was caught in a very furious cyclone. Ill-luck was with the king, he lost his men and horse and found himself alone in a wild jungle with all kinds of wild animals. By chance, he saw a small hut.
“At least I can spend the night here,” thought the distressed king. But when he opened the door, he was horrified to behold that the hut was infested with many venomous snakes. Retreating his steps in anguish, the tired and hungry king was fortunate to find a cave where he could spend the night. Once in the cave, he tried to get some sleep, but almost immediately, he heard the terrible roaring of a tiger. “Who can sleep in such a condition?” wondered the king. At such a difficult moment, an idea flashed in his mind and he looked inside the ring where he saw inscribed, “That too shall pass away!” At that moment, he surrendered to his destiny and slept peacefully till morning.
Difficult times in our life bring worry, tension and thus misery. But do all these make us free from the difficult moments? At such times, we are faced with two enemies: the external event with which we are faced and the internal tension and anxiety which it creates. Is it not possible to face any inner or outer event or any happening with serenity? If my wife has passed away, it is a fact; my sadness will not in any way help to bring my wife’s soul back to her corpse. We may say that it is a natural affair to be moved and to feel sadness when one’s close kith and kin is lost. But what happens when the sadness takes a serious turn like an unbearable pang of separation or intense bereavement which makes one lose taste in life?
Everything in life passes away. Joy and sorrow are like bubbles which rise and fade away. Whatever events or happenings occur in our life, they touch only the mind and the body. The soul is untouched by anything as it is a seer which is beyond all names and forms. Acquisition of wisdom lies in detaching the mind from its own impressions and from the body to merge in the soul. One should remain a silent witness and let every action and reaction happen in the neutrality of pure awareness.
The Vedas describe that state with the following analogy. Two birds are on a tree: one is moving from one branch to another, tasting the sweet and bitter fruits, while the other is sitting silently and witnessing the other bird. The one bird represents the mind which is enjoying, through the medium of the senses, joy and sorrow which are the fruits of actions. While the soul, which is the lord of the senses, is the silent witness as represented by the other bird.