Mula came upon a frowning man walking along the road to town. "What's wrong?" he asked. The man held up a tattered bag and moaned, "All that I own in this wide world barely fills this miserable, wretched sack."
"Too bad," said Mula, and with that, he snatched the bag from the man's hands and ran down the road with it.
Having lost everything, the man burst into tears and, more miserable than before, continued walking. Meanwhile, Mula quickly ran around the bend and placed the man's sack in the middle of the road where he would have to come upon it.
When the man saw his bag sitting in the road before him, he laughed with joy, and shouted, "My sack! I thought I'd lost you!"
Watching through the bushes, Mula chuckled. "Well, that's one way to make someone happy!"
The man in the story was initially unhappy that he had nothing except the tattered bag. When he lost the bag he became miserable. When he got it back he turned happy even though the tattered bag was the same. The intensity of the pain changed when mental circumstances changed. He realized the value of the bag that he despised initially only when he lost it and therefore was pleased when he got it back.
A child injures its finger slightly and cries hard. When running towards its mother, it falls and gets hurt in the knuckle. The pain in the finger is gone and the one at the knuckle is causing trouble. When a bigger problem comes, the minor one is gone. Is it not then the mischief of the mind? It is like drawing a longer line by pencil by the side of a line to make it appear short.Nothing was done to the line, yet it became shorter.
There is another aspect. The pain for the same problem is felt differently by different people depending upon the circumstances. The loss of a ten rupee note by a beggar is more painful than the same loss is to a white collared employee. The fear of loss of job is more to an unqualified individual than to a person with professional qualification. The intensity of the pain is proportionate to the fear. Some people shudder at the thought of a prick with the needle by a nurse while a soldier in the front with one leg shot and incapacitated keeps fighting bravely. It is again the mental makeup. Cowards suffer more.
We have heard the story of a man clinging in great fear to a straw-like branch over a bottomless deep pit not knowing what was there deep down and yet when a drop of honey fell on his chin from a beehive, he licked happily the sweet treacle with his tongue with the fear gone for a while. A small pleasure like the smile of a child blunts the great unhappiness of a grieving man.
Diverting the mind to God when the trouble seems insurmountable lulls the stressed mind into calm. The problems do not vanish but the mind is turned away in hope. This is what all of us do.
Sage Ramana Maharishi suffered from an extremely painful form of bone cancer in his elbow. The doctors suggested amputation of the arm but Maharishi declined saying with a smile: “There is no need for alarm. The body is itself a disease. Let it have its natural end. Why mutilate it? Simple dressing of the affected part will do.” The disease did not yield to treatment. The sage was quite unconcerned and was supremely indifferent to suffering. He sat as a spectator watching the disease waste the body. But his eyes shone as bright as ever and his grace continued to flow towards all beings. He was unconcerned and assured the weeping devotees that the body is not the Maharishi. He conquered pain by detachment but such stoicism does not come by easily to ordinary folks.
Many a pain is caused by desire. We long for things we do not have and feel bad for not possessing it. Once you get it, the mind seeks another one, a new and novel thing. Not all things are easy to obtain. We use short cuts that are not always proper and results in trouble. There is no end to pain till you curb the desire
“Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.”Rabindranath Tagore