Monday, April 19, 2010


This is one of my favorite stories from ancient China. It teaches us about the folly of judgement and the impossibility of truly knowing anything.

The story begins with the farmer's only horse running away. The farmer used the horse for so many purposes on the farm. One of his neighbors offered sympathy with, "Too bad about your horse." The farmer replies, "Maybe." The next day the farmer's horse returns leading four wild horses into the stable. This time the neighbor congratulates the farmer with, "Wow, what a stroke of luck!" The farmer again replies, "Maybe."

The next day, while trying to tame the wild horses, the farmer's son breaks one of his legs. Again, the neighbor offers sympthay, "This is sad. What bad fortune." The farmer replies once again, "Maybe." The next day, the general of the army is sending recruiters out to gather young men of fighting age, but the farmer's son is layed up and is spared from going off to war....and the story goes on and on and on.

I think of this story whenever I find myself struggling with a tough situation. As I've matured and have at least five decades to look back upon, much of what I thought was 'bad' actually turned out 'good'...and so on. Non-judgement. Just seeing now as now...remembering picking and choosing is the dis-ease of the mind.

Hands palm to palm,



  1. This is a favourite of mine too. Good to tell, good to pass on, good as an aid and even better if you can live by it.

  2. Very nice, Shinzen. This post reminds me of Steve Jobs' infamous speech on Stanford graduation:

    I feel so lucky that in my 3rd decade of life I began to look back and see that all the events in my life is one perfect series of connected dots. Of course at times I can still view some events as good and bad, but along with practice, I can walk life with non-judgement more consistently. When I realize that no matter what happens, it is truly only for the sake of The Whole, judgement becomes obsolete, and I surrender :)

  3. I guess I should've bought a Mac.