The mental state is paramount – a story

We all know that happiness or sadness is really only a thought away. Change the way you think or perceive and your world changes immediately. It’s really that fast – a mere thought away. But it can be the toughest thing to do because our ego gets in the way. It will throw a tantrum and demand, “What about I, me, mine?”

Here is a story about a king whose kindness is so legendary that when he passed away, the denizens of the afterlife could not wait to welcome him hoping he would help make hell a heaven for them all. And indeed that’s what he did!

Once upon a time there lived a great king called Vipashchit who passed away. He was so well known for being a most kind king that the devas of the afterlife could not wait for his arrival hoping that he would their teacher and guide. So it was no surprise when the king found a most welcome waiting for him when he arrived at his destination in the underworld. Smiles, embraces and tears of gratitude were showered on him.

Some time passed, and Vipashchit settled in very nicely indeed. One day, he remarked to a companion that Heaven was much better than he had expected. “Heaven?”, said his companion. “No, your majesty. This is Hell and the people are all suffering but thanks to you they have turned sorrow into joy.”

Just then some messengers arrived apologising profusely for the mistake made. They had come to fetch the king to heaven. “All of us in Heaven are waiting for you, O Great King.”

Vipashchit looked around and smiled. “I am not leaving. I have already found my Heaven.”

This story goes to illustrate what a difference one thought can make – truly, our life can change in an instant if only we are willing to do so, with just that one thought. Heaven or hell, it’s all in that one thought. As this story shows, one can make heaven or hell whatever the surroundings. It’s really up to the way we think. The way we perceive. And most of all, the decision we make out of the choices presented to us. To whine, to scream, to kick and protest, or to calmly look the situation in the eye and ask, “Now, what can I do to make a difference?” This power to choose is called our self-will and if we use it wisely, any hell can become a heaven in an instant.

Note: You will find this story in Eknath Easwaran’s book, Dhammapada.