As a wild teenager intent on finding a way out of angst, I read a reassuring eastern tale of wisdom…here’s my impromptu version of it:
A great King had a favorite Minister upon whose sage advice he strongly relied. One day while fencing the monarch happened to slice off his little finger. He complained about the throbbing pain to the Minister—who replied that the King should learn to accept that everything happens for the best. The King flew into a mighty rage. “Oh, so everything happens for the best, does it?” he shrieked. “Well then, let’s put you into a stinking dungeon and see how you feel about that!”
Hurt by his friend’s callous attitude, and seeking distraction from his physical pain, the King summoned his guardsmen and took off to hunt in the forest. He shot furiously ahead on his magnificent charger—so far ahead that when evening came he found himself alone in unfamiliar jungle. He yelled for help until his royal throat was sore, to no avail. Finally he made himself a bed of leaves and laid down to rest.
In the middle of the night, he smelt the rank fur of a beast and woke in terror to find a lioness hovering over his body. She sniffed all the way down his body as the monarch lay paralyzed with terror, wondering when she would begin to tear him from limb to limb. But when the beast came to his little finger, which was bloody and festering since the bandage had fallen off in his mad race, she turned her nose up in disgust and stalked off. The King scrambled up the tree and shivered there until dawn broke before charging back to the Palace.
Ordering his guards to bring the Minister to him, the King then spilled every detail of the miracle he had experienced. “You’re right, my friend,” he admitted. “Everything does happen for the best. The Queen of the Jungle didn’t want to pollute herself with bad meat, you see, so had I not sliced off that bit of finger, I’d be in her belly right now .” A gleam leaped into the royal eye. “But tell me, wise one,” he said, “how does this maxim apply to the fact that you had an awful night?”
“Well, your Majesty,” said the Minister, “had I been with you, I would have ridden by your side as usual. We would have gotten lost together and fallen asleep beside each other. The lioness would have rejected you, but she’d have taken me off to feast upon, because I have no wounds. You see? Everything does happen for the best.”
Whereupon the King plastered his friend’s face with wet royal kisses and all was once again well in that glittering Palace.
* * * * * *
While many might disagree with this seemingly naïve statement—that everything happens for the best—to me it is a mystical truth that has helped me move forward. To the eastern philosopher, this lifetime is but one of an infinite series of lives we have lived in myriad forms—so even that which does not make sense to us right now, has its roots in the past.
Seekers of freedom eventually learn that only surrender to a higher power (to followers of Advaita, this would be the Self) can lead us out of the bewildering maze of relative reality. Gradually one learns to take all that comes with equanimity, for having plunged deep into both relative and absolute investigation, we are aware that, witnessed by the omniscient eye, everything does happen for the best.
My life has been a tumultuous one: the death of many beloveds, intense emotional and physical suffering, financial loss, and being misunderstood by those baffled by my unusual path. But here I AM, intent on becoming fully the light that I AM—so for me, yes, everything has happened for the best.
Greetings from mighty Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a mountain, whose promise is to help the committed seeker to destroy the limiting cage of I, me and mine, so we can know ourselves as the radiant Self!