As narrated by Ram Dass
There once was a bandit who would prey upon hapless travelers, stealing their money or killing them if they resisted. Until one day a pandit came walking up the path. As the holy pandit approached, the bandit sprang from his hiding place and knocked him to the ground, holding him there with the sword pointed at his throat.
Give me all your money, demanded the bandit.
I have no money, said the pandit.
I’ve heard that before,said the bandit, searching his victim. When it turned out to be true, the bandit said, Since you have no money, I will hold you for ransom and your friends will pay.
I will not let them pay.
Then I will kill you, yelled the bandit, pressing the sword tip to the pandit’s throat. But rather than tremble with fear, the pandit laughed.
You think death is funny?
No. It’s funny that you think you can get what you want with a sword.
I can. I control your life in this moment.
Yes you do. But you don’t control my experience.
What do you mean?
“If you press your sword into me, then I will die. But you do not control my choice to be happy. In this moment I choose to be happy. My choice is how I feel in this moment.
The bandit stood speechless. In all his years it had never occurred to him that external circumstances need not determine the choices in life. He dropped his sword.
No one has ever spoken to me that way before.
In that moment the bandit chose a new path. One in which he began to control his life experiences from the inside instead of the outside.
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