The secret of the ring
To think that "I am the mind," is unawareness. To know that mind is only a mechanism just as the body is, to know that the mind is separate.... The night comes, the morning comes: you don't get identified with the night. You don't say, "I am night," you don't say, "I am morning." The night comes, the morning comes, the day comes, again the night comes; the wheel goes on moving, but you remain alert that you are not these things.
The same is the case with the mind. Anger comes, but you forget--you become anger. Greed comes, you forget--you become greed. Hate comes, you forget--you become hate. This is unawareness.
Awareness is watching that the mind is full of greed, full of anger, full of hate or full of lust, but you are simply a watcher. Then you can see greed arising, becoming a great, dark cloud, then dispersing--and you remain untouched. How long can it remain? Your anger is momentary, your greed is momentary, your lust is momentary. Just watch a little and you will be surprised: it comes and it goes. And you are remaining there unaffected, cool, calm.
The most basic thing to remember is that when you are feeling good, in a mood of ecstasy, don't start thinking that it is going to be your permanent state. Live the moment as joyfully, as cheerfully as possible, knowing perfectly well that it has come and it will go--just like a breeze comes in your house, with all its fragrance and freshness, and goes out from the other door.
This is the most fundamental thing. If you start thinking in terms of making your ecstatic moments permanent, you have already started destroying them. When they come, be grateful; when they leave, be thankful to existence. Remain open. It will happen many times--don't be judgmental, don't be a chooser. Remain choiceless. Yes, there will be moments when you will be miserable. So what? There are people who are miserable and who have not even known a single moment of ecstasy; you are fortunate. Even in your misery, remember that it is not going to be permanent; it will also pass away, so don't get too much disturbed by it. Remain at ease.
Just like day and night, there are moments of joy and there are moments of sadness; accept them as part of the duality of nature, as the very way things are. And you are simply a watcher: neither you become happiness nor you become misery. Happiness comes and goes, misery comes and goes. One thing remains always there--always and always--and that is the watcher, one who witnesses.
Slowly, slowly get more and more centered into the watcher. Days will come and nights will come... lives will come and deaths will come... success will come, failure will come. But if you are centered in the watcher--because that is the only reality in you--everything is a passing phenomenon.
Just for a moment, try to feel what I am saying: just be a watcher....
Do not cling to any moment because it is beautiful, and do not push any moment because it is miserable. Stop doing that. That you have been doing for lives. You have not been successful yet and you will never be successful ever. The only way to go beyond, to remain beyond, is to find a place from where you can watch all these changing phenomena without getting identified.
I will tell you an ancient Sufi story...
A king asked his wise men in the court, "I am making a very beautiful ring for myself. I have got one of the best diamonds possible. I want to keep hidden inside the ring some message that may be helpful to me in a time of utter despair. It has to be very small so that it can be hidden underneath the diamond in the ring."
They were all wise men, they all were great scholars; they could have written great treatises. But to give him a message of not more than two or three words which would help him in moments of utter despair... They thought, they looked into their books, but they could not find anything.
The king had an old servant who was almost like his father--he had been his father's servant. The king's mother had died early and this servant had taken care of him, so he was not treated like a servant. The king had immense respect for him. The old man said, "I am not a wise man, knowledgeable, scholarly; but I know the message--because there is only one message. And these people cannot give it to you; it can be given only by a mystic, by a man who has realized himself.
"In my long life in the palace I have come across all kinds of people, and once, a mystic. He had also been a guest of your father and I was put into his service. When he was departing, as a gesture of thankfulness for all my services he gave me this message"--and he wrote it on a small piece of paper, folded it and told the king, "Don't read it, just keep it hidden in the ring. Only open it when everything else has failed--when there is no way out."
And the time came soon. The country was invaded and the king lost his kingdom. He was running away on his horse just to save his life and the enemy horses were following him. He was alone; they were many. And he came to a place where the path stopped, came to a dead end; there was a cliff and a deep valley. To fall into it was to be finished. He could not go back, the enemy was there and he could hear the sounds of the hooves of the horses. He could not go forward, and there was no other way....
Suddenly he remembered the ring. He opened it, took out the paper, and there was a small message of tremendous value: it simply said, "This too will pass."
A great silence came over him as he read the sentence, "This too will pass." And it passed. Everything passes away; nothing remains in this world. The enemies who were following him must have got lost in the forest, must have moved on a wrong way; the hooves slowly, slowly were not heard any more.
The king was immensely grateful to the servant and to the unknown mystic. Those words proved miraculous. He folded the paper, put it back into the ring, gathered his armies again and conquered his kingdom back. And the day he was entering his capital, victorious, there was great celebration all over the capital, music, dance--and he was feeling very proud of himself. The old man was walking by the side of his chariot. He said, "This time is also right: look again at the message."
The king said, "What do you mean? Now I am victorious, people are celebrating. I am not in despair, I am not in a situation where there is no way out."
The old man said, "Listen. This is what the saint has said to me: this message is not only for despair, it is also for pleasure. This is not only for when you are defeated; it is also for when you are victorious--not only when you are the last, but also when you are the first."
And the king opened the ring, read the message, "This too will pass," and suddenly the same peace, the same silence, amidst the crowds, jubilating, celebrating, dancing... but the pride, the ego was gone. Everything passes away.
He asked his old servant to come on the chariot and sit with him. He asked, "Is there anything more? Everything passes away... Your message has been immensely helpful."
The old man said, "The third thing the saint said, 'Remember, everything passes. Only you remain; you remain forever as a witness.'"
Everything passes, but you remain. You are the reality; everything else is just a dream. Beautiful dreams are there, nightmares are there... But it does not matter whether it is a beautiful dream or a nightmare; what matters is the one who is seeing the dream. That seer is the only reality.