'One day the Hebrew King Solomon decided to humble his most trusted minister. He said to him 'Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me within six months.'
'If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty', replied Benaiah confidently, 'I will find it and bring it to you. But what makes the ring so special?'
'It has magic powers', answered the king with a straight face. 'If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.' Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world. Wishing to give his minister a little taste of humility, he was sending him on an impossible mission.
Spring and then summer passed by, and though he had searched the length and breadth of the kingdom, still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. The night before the six months were up and he knew he would have to return to the king in defeat, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest sections of Jerusalem. He passed by an old merchant who had begun to set out the day's wares on a shabby carpet. With nothing left to lose, Benaiah asked, 'Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrow?'
The old merchant did not speak, but took a plain gold ring from his carpet and engraved something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide grin.
That night, Benaiah went to see the king as he was in court with all his ministers. 'Well, my friend', Solomon smirked, 'Have you brought me what I sent you for?' All the ministers chortled heartily, eager to see their peer admit his embarrassing defeat. To everyone's surprise, Benaiah held up the small gold ring and declared, 'Here it is, your majesty!' As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. Into the ring, the jeweler had engraved the phrase, 'This too shall pass.'
(From 'The Blessed Life' by Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri)