Have you ever experienced a disappointment or setback and wondered, “Why did this have to happen?” If you are like me, then you must have asked this question numerous times in your life.
Sometimes, we are able to look back and see that things happened for the best and at other times, we don’t see them that way. The challenges seem to have come out of nowhere and for no reason. But, trusting that the universe only brings what is for our highest and best good carries us cheerfully through difficulties.
An old Indian Tale
There is a funny Indian tale that illustrates this principle.
Once, there was a young king who had a wise minister. The minister had firm faith in a loving and benevolent universe. The phrase that he repeated often was, “Everything happens for the best!”
One day, the king, the minister and some soldiers went out hunting in the forest on the outskirts of the kingdom. The king and the minister chased a wild deer into the thick forest and got separated from the rest of the hunting party. They realized they were lost and all alone.
The minister cheerfully said, ”Don’t worry. They’ll find us. Everything happens for the best!” The annoyed king, who was more concerned about finding his way back, ignored him and didn’t bother with a reply.
The king breaks his finger
They unknowingly rode deeper into the forest. The forest floor was covered with thick undergrowth. Suddenly, the king’s horse tripped over the roots of a large tree and threw him unceremoniously onto the ground. The king fell on his hand and broke his little finger.
The minister quickly ran to help him up. Sitting him down, he gently reassured the king,” You will be fine. Everything happens for the best.” Reeling from the shock of his fall, and in pain, the king glared at the minister, “Don’t give me that useless advice! How could there be any good in this? We have no clue where we are, have no supplies with us, my finger’s broken and you think all this is for the best?”
The minister didn’t answer, but cheered him by saying, ”Look! There’s a well. We can now get some water to drink.” Excitedly, they hurried towards it. As they peeked down, they were disappointed to see that it was very shallow and had dried up long ago. Seeing the frustration on the king’s face, the minister tried to calm him down. He said, “Don’t worry. Everything happens for the best!”
They turned to mount their horses, but found that they had wandered away. Shaken, but with full faith, the minister slowly said, “There must be something good in this too. Everything happens for the best!”
Tired, Injured, thirsty, and now without any transport, the king was furious! He had just about enough of the minister. He punched him on the nose and pushed him into the well. “There! Now show me the good in that!”
The minister, who suffered only minor bumps and bruises, called out for help from the bottom of the well. But the king had had enough of him and stormed away.
Caught by Cannibals!
He hadn’t gone more than a few minutes when a band of cannibals found and caught him. They were overjoyed to see such a juicy specimen for their sacrifice to the gods. The king was terrified! He cried and struggled to break free from their hold, but there were too many of them.
The cannibals took him back to their home and made preparations for the ceremony. As they brought the king to the sacrificial altar, their leader suddenly noticed that the king had a swollen, broken finger. In disgust, he ordered them to free the prisoner immediately. How dare they incur the wrath of the gods by offering a defective sacrifice! So, the cannibals hastily untied the king.
He got up and bolted away, repeating to himself, ”He was right! He was right! ” He found his way back to the well where the minister was and quickly helped him out. Feeling grateful to be alive, he gave the minister a big hug and told him how he had narrowly escaped death. “You were right! Everything does happen for the best! If I hadn’t broken my finger, I would have been dead by now!”
Just then, they heard the cries of the soldiers who had been scouring the area looking for them. They called back to them and were reunited with their party. Relieved that their ordeal was over, the king and minister happily chatted as they rode back to the palace.
The moral of the story
“Tell me, O wise one,” the king asked his minister, “I can see the higher good in my broken finger, but why did you have to experience the pain of being pushed into that well?” The minister replied, “Your Majesty, if you didn’t push me into the well, the cannibals would have sacrificed me instead!”
Amazed at the synchronicity of the events, the king nodded his head in agreement. He had one last question,” But why did we have to go through the entire harrowing experience?”
‘Your Majesty,” said the minister, “You went through the experience to learn the truth of the fact that everything does happen for the best. On my part, the experience reinforced my conviction and helped me gain your trust.”
The Soul’s evolution is paramount
Everything does happen for our highest and best good. To see this, we just have to rise above our limited personality concerns to the higher purpose of our soul’s evolution. From that high standpoint, the challenges and setbacks of our life can be seen as opportunities to learn and grow from.
Having the conviction that everything happens for the best doesn’t change things for us but rather changes us for things. And, ultimately, it is this inner growth that matters.
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