There is an old Chinese tale about a woman who lost her only son in tragic circumstances. Her grief was all encompassing and in the depths of it, she sought out a holy man. When she arrived, she asked him, “What prayers, what magical incantations do you have to bring my son back to life?”
Instead of sending her away or reasoning with her, he said to her, “There’s is nothing that can bring the dead back to life however, fetch me a mustard seed from a home that has never known sorrow and we will use this to make a position that will drive the sorrow out of your life.” The woman went off at once in search of that magical mustard seed in a home that had never experienced sorrow.
She came first to a splendid mansion and knocked at the door. When the door opened, a kindly woman answered and the grieving mother asked, “I am looking for a home that has never known sorrow. Is this such a place? It is very important to me.” They older woman responded, “You’ve certainly come to the wrong place,” and began to describe all the tragic things that had recently befallen them.
The woman said to herself, ‘Who is better able to help these poor, unfortunate people than I, who have had misfortune of my my own?’ She stayed to comfort them, then went on in search of a home that had never known sorrow.
But wherever she turned, in hotels and in other places, she found one tale after another of sadness and misfortune. The woman became so involved in helping others cope with their sorrows that she eventually let go of her own. She would later come to understand that it was the quest to find the magical mustard seed that drove away her suffering.