A rich old man died leaving two sons. For some time the two continued living together in the traditional Indian way, in a single joint household, a joint family. Then they quarrelled and decided to separate, dividing all the property between them. Everything was divided fifty-fifty, and thus they settled their affairs. But after the settlement had been made, a small packet was discovered which had been carefully hidden by their father. They opened the packet and found two rings inside, one set with a valuable diamond, and the other an ordinary silver ring worth only a few rupees.
Seeing the diamond, the elder brother developed greed in his mind, and he started explaining to the younger one, “To me it appears that this ring is not the earning of our father, but rather an heirloom from his forefathers. That is why he kept it separate from his other possessions. And since it has been kept for generations in our family, it should remain for future generations. Therefore I, being elder, shall keep it. You had better take the silver ring.”
The younger brother smiled and said, “All right, be happy with the diamond ring, I'll be happy with the silver one.” Both of them placed their rings on their fingers and went their ways.
The younger brother thought to himself. “It is easily understandable that my father kept the diamond ring; it is so valuable. But why did be keep this ordinary silver ring?” He examined the ring closely and found some words engraved on it: “This will also change.” “Oh, this is the mantra of my father: ‘This will also change!' ” He replaced the ring on his finger.
Both brothers faced all the ups and downs of life. When spring came, the elder brother became highly elated, losing the balance of his mind. When autumn or winter came, he fell into deep depression, again losing his mental balance. He became tense, developing hypertension. Unable to sleep at night, he started using sleeping pills, tranquilizers, stronger drugs. Finally, he reached the stage where he required electric shock treatments. This was the brother with the diamond ring.
As for the younger brother with the silver ring, when spring came, he enjoyed it; he didn't try to run away from it. He enjoyed it, but looked at his ring and remembered, “This will also change.” And when it changed, he could smile and say, “Well, I knew it was going to change. It has changed, so what!” When autumn or winter came, again he looked at his ring and remembered, “This will also change.” He didn't start crying, knowing that this would also change. And yes, it also changed, it passed away. Of all the ups and downs, all the vicissitudes of life, he knew that nothing is eternal, that everything comes just to pass away. He did not lose the balance of his mind and he lived a peaceful, happy life.
This was the brother with the silver ring. –from The Art of Living
We learned this story during a nightly lecture of my Vipassana retreat. “This will also change” immediately became a mantra. It’s accessible and friendlier than the ever-dorky “This too shall pass.” Shall? Where are we, Victorian England? Hardened and out of touch, the expression doesn’t even follow modern speech patterns.
“Pass” implies an end, like death, disappearance, or removal. But there is no end. Assuming complete conclusions is a recipe for disaster. Life is not a magic trick. Things do not vanish. Residue, leftovers, and modified versions of earlier situations stick around. Even if something physically leaves our lives, there’s still a relationship with it.
Change, on the other hand, is where it’s at. Evocative and alive, change is real life, with all the adjustments, recalibrating, and transformation you can handle. It’s a promise, a guarantee we’re part of a cycle, of something greater than what appears this instant. And who couldn't use that?
If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please share it on Twitter or Facebook using the "Share" button below. Or, leave a comment and tell me what you think!