Saturday, July 11, 2015

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Equanimity---what an incredible word!

Equanimity refers to calmness, composure, evenness and stability of mind and emotions. It refers to a state of mind which is and remains undisturbed in spite of changing events, occurrences and phenomena. Listen to these wise words from the great Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius (pictured right):

All that happens is as usual and familiar as the rose in spring and the crop in summer.

Life is tough even at the best of times. We must expect pain and suffering, for they are inevitable. We must expect to lose friends and loved ones as we pass through life. We must expect to lose possessions. And we must be prepared to meet our own death with courage and dignity. Yes, we must expect to lose all that we hold dear---even our memories of good times, for they too will pass.

All things are impermanent. Only the essence of life itself---which goes on and on despite ever-changing forms--is permanent for the essence or source of life is not a ‘thing’. It is a ‘no-thing’. Things come and go. They appear and vanish. They arise and decay. So will you. So will I.

There is a wonderful Jewish folk tale that I love. King Solomon (pictured left) is said to have instructed one of his most trusted minister Benaiah Ben Yehoyada to bring to him a certain ring. ‘It has magic powers,’ said the king. ‘If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.’ Actually, Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wanted to teach Benaiah a lesson in truth and humility.

Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. One night, while taking a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem, he passed by a certain merchant. Benaiah said to the merchant, ‘Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget their joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget their sorrows?’

The merchant picked up a gold ring from among his wares on display and engraved something on the ring. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, he smiled. The merchant had engraved three Hebrew letters along the band of the ring: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words ‘Gam zeh ya’avor’ — ‘This too shall pass.’

So, when you are going through a difficult period in your life, say to yourself, ‘This too shall pass’. Do likewise when you are experiencing joy and happiness. That is a bit harder to do.

That, my friends, is equanimity.


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