The wandering ascetic reaches a settlement, and seeks shelter for the night. He is guided to the house of Shakir, the wealthiest in the village, and is looked after well. In the morning, he seeks leave of his host, and blesses him. Shakir says, “This too shall pass”. The ascetic commences his travels, but Shakir’s words haunt him. Ten years later, his journey brings him to the same village, and he seeks Shakir, and finds him in tatters. Shakir’s farm was flooded, and he lost everything, and is now a slave at another farm. Taking leave, the ascetic expresses sadness at this, and Shakir says, “This too shall pass.”
The ascetic’s travels appear to bring him back to Shakir every time, and when he returns after another ten years, he finds Shakir wealthy again. His master had no child, and willed all his estate to Shakir in gratitude for selfless service. The ascetic is happy at Shakir’s regained wealthy status, and offers prayers of gratitude. The departing ascetic is again reminded by Shakir, “This too shall pass.”
The travels have commenced again, but this time, the path cannot hold the ascetic, and he feels drawn to return and be with Shakir again. He returns after five years, and when he asks for Shakir, he is guided to a simple grave.
The tombstone is eloquent in its engraved message, “This too shall pass.”
For many years, the ascetic stays near the grave, and meditates, till one day, flood waters enter the graveyard, and the ascetic sees even the tombstone swept away. And he whispers to himself, “This too shall pass.” The whole universe sings the words along with him, to celebrate his enlightenment.
Guru Granth Sahib expresses this so:
As the bubbles in the water well up, and disappear again and again,
Says Nanak, listen, my friend – Such is the universe created!