There was a time in the 1930’s when Shri Nathji was going for a morning walk in Lucknow. An old lady came out of her house, and, after giving her salutations to Shri Nathji, presented a beautiful flower to him.
Shri Nathji blessed her and thanked her for the flower, and said:
Mataji, you have given me a beautiful flower, but it has a dreadful thorn in it!
The old lady immediately took back the flower from Shri Nathji’s hand and said:
Maharaj! Please forgive me! I hope the thorn did not prick your finger.
She examined the flower carefully and said:
But, Maharaj, I don’t see any thorn with the flower.
Shri Nathji said:
There is a thorn, Mataji. This flower was the most beautiful one in your garden. It has captured my heart. But the time is to come when this beautiful flower will fade away. How great will be the pain to my heart at that moment! That is the thorn I am speaking about. The thorn of attachment. The hidden thorn of the fading of the flower, which will prick me because of my attachment to it. Everything in the world is perishable. The hand of time weighs heavily upon all things. Childhood changes to young age, and young age changes to old age. And finally old age changes to death. There is separation writ large on the face of the earth. All friends and dear ones depart, and one day even your own body leaves you. No happiness is permanent. The day comes when all happiness turns into sorrow. The changing face of the world cannot give you lasting happiness.
All friends of the world hurt you sooner or later, when they leave you. The hurt they cause while leaving is greater than any hurt that an enemy can cause while meeting. As Tulsidas, the Poet Saint had written:
Milat ek daarun dukh deyeen
Bicchurat ek praan har leyeen
An enemy hurts you when he comes before you
And a friend takes away your life when he leaves you.
Then Shri Nathji recited a Persian Verse:
Gar nami Khaahi dil khastagi
Ai jaaneman vaankas na dil bastagi
If it is thy wish thy heart be never broken,
Then O loved one, bind it not to anything!