This story has been on my mind a lot since last Sunday when I was reminded of it in a class on divine love and relationships. It seems to me of paramount importance that I move deeper into embodying the truth contained within the story. I share it here and invite your own awareness of how it speaks to you:
A Chinese farmer gets a horse, which soon runs away. A neighbor says, “That’s bad news.” The farmer replies, “I do not know if this is good or if this is bad.”
Time passes and one day the horse comes back and brings another horse with him. Good news, you might say? The neighbors said, “What good news!” The farmer replies, “I do not know if this is good or if this is bad.”
The farmer ends up giving the second horse to his son, who rides it, and who then is thrown from the horse one day and badly breaks his leg.
“So sorry for your bad news,” says the concerned neighbor. “I do not know if this is good or if this is bad” the farmer replies.
In a week or so, the emperor’s men come and take every able-bodied young man to fight in a war. The farmer’s son is spared due to his broken leg. Good news, of course! Again, the farmer tells his neighbors, “I do not know if this is good or if this is bad.”
(Image Credit Unity Codex WordPress)
The tale of the farmer is said to be Taoist in origin. Taoist theology emphasizes themes such as naturalness, peace, equanimity, ataraxia, effortless action (inaction), non-attachment, and acceptance. Applied individually, we look at it in relation to good/bad events and the concept of “good luck”/”bad luck”… and this can also be extrapolated to world events as well.
The farmer’s story points to the path of non-duality, something that is exceptionally difficult to embody. In short, it reminds people that it’s best not to get too upset — or attached — to what happens to us. Even something that seems dark and confounding can turn out to be an opportunity, when looked on in hindsight.