This Too Shall Pass

There was a recent feature on NPR about the success of a program called Zero Suicide, founded by Dr. Ed Coffey and his team at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan ( Program offshoots are springing up around the country.

The commentator was interviewing a participant who had attempted suicide many times. She said that the program had taught her that whatever she was feeling, e.g., depression or suicidal, she knew ‘it would pass.’

This too shall pass.

This phrase, or a variation of it, has been attributed to many different cultural, philosophical, religious, and spiritual traditions.

What we’re interested in here is the source of the phrase. Who or what knows that ‘this too shall pass’?

If we can answer this question, depression and suicidal tendencies will have no more influence on us than a reflection has on a mirror.

A thought says, ‘This too shall pass,’ but the thought itself passes, so it can’t be the source.

All phenomena – anything that can be observed or experienced, such as a thought, feeling, sensation, or perception – pass. All appearances, all objects, arise and pass away. Everything we know changes.

Whatever knows that ‘this too shall pass’ is an ever-present witness to the arising and passing away of all things.

Whatever the feeling, thought, emotion, sensation, or perception of the world, it’s guaranteed it will pass. And this passing is observed by an ever-present, changeless awareness.


One us.