A man was having a stress filled day. In modern times, this is quite common place. Everyone has stress related to work, family, finances, relationships etc. Perhaps we expect too much from those around us as well as from ourselves. Perhaps we set our targets too high and they in turn give us stress. Perhaps we are trying to achieve too much, in too little time. I wonder what we are trying to prove to ourselves or to the world! Perhaps we need to slow down …
So, this man went to a wise elder to ask for help. The wise man heard his woes and said, “My friend your problem is simple. Here, take this spoonful of salt. Mix it in a glass of water and drink it.” The man did as directed. The salt water was terribly unpalatable, but somehow he drank it all up. The wise man asked, “How did that taste?” “Horrible!” he said.
The wise man gave him another spoon of salt and told him to mix it in a glass of water and drink it. The man was flabbergasted. He began to sip the salt water. If possible, it tasted even worse than the earlier one. Half way through he threw up. He said, “I can’t, I can’t drink more. Please, do not play jokes with me. I came to seek help from you. Why are you doing this to me?” The wise man said, “Alright, take the rest of the salt water and pour it into the river yonder. Then mix it and fill up a glass from there and bring it.”
The man did as he was told. “Now, drink it”, said the wise man. The man drank it easily. “How did it taste?” “Very cool and refreshing,” he replied. “Do you understand what to do now?”
The man shook his head, “No,” he said. The wise man explained, “All the problems that you have recounted to me are of the present. Their nature is temporary. They affect you so much because your vision is centred only on them. Look at the larger picture. Think of these problems as a small speck in the happenings of the day in the master plan of the universe. Look around and count your blessings. If you see your problems in perspective against the larger plan of the Lord, you shall realise that the problems are but dust particles that shall soon drift away.”
Similarly once a king, his minister and servant going in a boat. The servant panicked at the sight of water all round; in fact his panic tantrums were about to upset the boat itself. So the minister caught hold of him, dunked him into the water, dipped him a number of times and then when he cried, “The boat, the boat!” he was hoisted back. Once in the boat he knew he was safe from the stormy waters.
Do not panic unnecessarily and create mountains out of molehills. Problems will come and go, what matters is how you deal with them. What matters is whether you can maintain your equanimity in all circumstances.
We need to learn to be serene and calm in stress and storm. The mind is a wanderer. Wandering from wish to wish, flitting from one desire to another is its nature. It causes loss and grief, elation and depression. Its effects are both positive and negative. The mind will gather experiences and store them in the memory forever. It does not know the art of giving up! As a consequence, grief, anxiety and misery continue simmering in it. It is worthwhile to know the characteristics of our mind and the ways to master it, for we shall ultimately benefit from the exercise!