Plush carpeting and marble walls – it was an exquisite office. And at its very heart, sitting at an expensive mahogany desk was a troubled CEO. This man had climbed the corporate ladder to almost the highest rung. He had amassed wealth sufficient for several generations, and possessed a vast collection of properties, art, cars and other investments. To strangers, it seemed that he had it all.
And yet, whoever crossed paths with him knew that he was anything but happy. Everytime he felt the slightest happiness, that warm fuzzy feeling would quickly vaporize and be replaced by disappointment and despair.
As Mr CEO sat at his desk, he wondered what surprises his next appointment would bring. He had recently started a contest within his company to find the employee who could come up with the most effective way to be happy. The prize was a substantial bonus. This contest had sparked the interest of many of his staff, but none had been successful in giving him what he was so desperately searching for. Now, he hoped that perhaps his next appointment might bring him the answer, but he was also beginning to worry that he might never find happiness at all.
A knock on the door snapped him out of his deep contemplation. His next appointment was with the company janitor, who walked in timidly. The CEO wondered how this fellow had managed to get an appointment to see him, and did not hide his irritation when he asked the janitor what he wanted. The janitor smiled and presented a box. As the CEO took the box, he could not keep his eyes away from the face of the man across from him, who reflected so much peace and calm. Did this man work for him? His smile was mesmerizing and one could tell he was happy. The CEO opened the box and picked up a tattered leather wristlet.
“Sir, that wristlet was given to me by my father. I have treasured it and I thought this might bring you peace of mind and happiness as it has brought me,” said the janitor.
The CEO looked at it distastefully and thought to himself that he would never be caught dead wearing such a thing. However, upon looking closer he saw the letters TTSP finely embossed on the inside of the leather band.
“What is the meaning of this?” the CEO questioned the janitor.
The janitor replied, “Sir, wear this wristlet at all times. Whatever shall come your way, before you decide whether it is good or bad, remember the acronym TTSP, which stands for: This too shall pass. That way, you will always be at peace.”
Gradually, the deep lines and creases on the CEO’s face smooth-ened. He realized that he had unlocked a great wealth: that peace and happiness are not achieved by the circumstances or the achievements in one’s life, but by realizing who we are at the deepest level: eternal beings in an impermanent world. He smiled at the janitor and repeated the words, “This too shall pass.”
Those words mean that it is not just the bad events that will pass, but also the good ones. They remind us of the impermanence of every situation, which is due to the transitory nature of the world. Once we accept the transience of all things and the inevitability of change, we will become less attached and will gradually learn to separate ourselves from the events around us. We will learn to enjoy the pleasures of the world while they last, without having to worry about the future. This was what the CEO desperately sought. When we are detached, we are on a higher ground, and we view events in our life as would an actor playing his allotted part in a play, instead of being trapped inside it. As actors, we realize the impermanence of the play and we try to fulfil our roles to the best of our ability but we are not affected by the outcome.
We can be better actors on the stage of life by playing our part well. Whatever destiny has been allotted to us, we should accept it cheerfully as the will of the Lord. And that you can do only if you attend to your meditation. There is no other way. Otherwise we align ourselves with the acting and take that as the reality, forgetting that we are acting.
Maharaj Charan Singh, Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III
The ‘wristlet’ that has been given to us is none other than our meditation. The words that we repeat in our meditation are like a pickaxe. Each time we repeat them, we are etching the words “this too shall pass” in our minds, creating a deeper groove with time.
In the theatre of life, as the play progresses, there will be ups and downs: problems at work, illness, death of loved ones, bad invest-ments, a disobedient child, a disloyal spouse – the list goes on. Nobody has ever escaped from problems in this play of life, whether he be a CEO or a leader of a great nation. However, we are working towards a goal – to play our part well and leave this stage one day. In the meantime, we know only too well that there is a divine guiding hand with us at all times.