I recall my encounter, with Sir Louis Cladwell III; the billionaire business man had invited me to his home for a 24-hour intensive personal coaching on stress management. He was going to be 58, and was planning a small, discreet dinner party for few friends and business associates.
“I’d be greatly honored if you would attend,” he said.
“Sir, I’d be honored to be your guest,” I said
“My aircraft will be at the Airport, 10 am on Saturday. Would you join a few other guests on that flight?” He said.
“That would be splendid, Sir, see you on Saturday,” I said.
I had a dilemma; what birthday gift would I give my eminent client? When a man is that wealthy, what could one possibly give him that would excite him? I agonized over this for two days until I had a sudden flash of insight. I knew just the thing. I relaxed.
The massive and stately ballroom was alive with laughter and sophisticated banter. It was a motley crowd of men and women of political and economic power and clout, while a few distinguished and internationally acclaimed personalities injected a different flavor to the already classy evening set up.
Sometime during the party, the celebrant got up to speak. Turning to me, he said, “Doctor, the people gathered here are very close friends of mine. Like me, certainly until I met you, the seemingly happy fronts they present are a mere façade covering their lives of quiet desperation. Please, in a few short sentences, give them a message of hope. Tell them how they can cope with the stress that is incident to their day-to-day living. What stress relieving formula can you teach these good people?”
I was thrown entirely off-balance. I hardly expected this. I certainly came quite unprepared for even the shortest presentation. But then, all eyes were on me. And then, the idea hit me like a bolt of lightning.
I would kill two birds with one stone. I would present my gift, and then tell the story behind the gift, for the benefit of his guests.
“2,500 years ago, there lived a great Emperor of China. His name was Liu Bang Chew. He ruled over an empire that spread across most of what is now Asia extending into Northern Europe. He had ruled for 40 years, and was about to celebrate his 60th Birthday anniversary. It was supposed to be a great event and preparations for it commenced a whole year before the event. The gifts and presents started rolling in. Governors of the provinces, noblemen, merchants, peasants and farmers brought in thousands of horses, camels and big bales of raw silk, cotton, spices, perfumes and food. Their quantities were so vast, so enormous that the Prime Minister had to designate and empty a whole city to accommodate the gifts. The Emperor, however, was not impressed with the gifts. They were all, in his Imperial perception, too common place. One bright sunny day, a simple peasant arrived the city gates of Peking. He was dressed in a simple, white robe and strap sandals. He had traveled on foot for 6 months from the far northern reaches of the Empire. At the gates of the palace, he demanded to see the Emperor. After persisting at the gate for a whole month, he was finally granted entry into the palace. He was taken to the Imperial court, where the Emperor was seated on his throne, surrounded by the Empress, Princes, Prime Minister and about 200 courtiers and noble men. He fell flat in prostration before the monarch.
“O great Emperor, I bring you birthday felicitations and a gift.”
“Your gift had better be an improvement of what I’ve already received or else I shall decree that your head be separated from the rest of your body,” the Emperor replied gravely.
At this, the peasant, whose name was Chouli, reached into his robe and brought out a simple bronze bracelet, which he handed over to the Emperor. The Emperor gazed at it intently in amazement. He turned it over in his hands, thinking to himself, “what foolishness is this?”. On closer inspection, he saw there was an inscription on the bracelet. It read “THIS TOO SHALL PASS”. He passed it round to his Empress and the noblemen, who read the inscription also.
Finally, he said “Peasant, what sort of reject-able gift is this?” Chouli looked at the emperor and said “O great Emperor, it is as it says on the bracelet, which I want you to wear from now until your last day.
Everything shall pass.
Your days as Emperor shall pass. Your difficulties, your times of joy, they shall all pass.
No matter what harrowing, terrible experience you may have, it shall pass.
There is always light at the end of a dark tunnel.
No matter the pleasurable experience you may have, it shall pass. Allow this profound statement to be a consoling factor in every facet of your life. This will allow you to laugh at your world.
It will allow you laugh at yourself and at your petty misgivings and errors.
You will know that nothing is of any real importance and that circumstances can have only the importance you choose to attach to them.
You will gradually get to know the magic of life;
that everything always works out for the best.
Nothing lasts forever.
You are greater than your failures, and even your successes; sad today, happy tomorrow, and happy today, sad tomorrow…It will pass.
The only thing that will not pass is: The eternal presence of the Almighty and the perfection of your creation”.
The Emperor rose from his throne, pulled Chouli to his feet and embraced him warmly. He turned to his noblemen and said “Surely, this is the wisest man in all of CHINA.
Later that afternoon, Chouli was appointed GRAND COUNSELLOR OF ALL CHINA. And so, that was how a lowly peasant farmer found himself the 3rd most important dignitary in China.
I paused and turned to the celebrant, bringing out a silver bracelet from my pocket.
“Sir, while wishing you a very happy birthday, may I humbly present to you this bracelet with the same inscription, ‘This Too Shall Pass’. Anytime you look at it, the transience of all trial, all Joy, all physical existence, will accord you the privilege of living a more tranquil life. Have a stress-free rest of your life.”
...the room became lit with applause and smiles, as though burdens were being lifted!
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