Jill Ogle | Coach

The taoist story of the farmer

Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad — because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.

— Alan Watts retelling the parable

We are so quick to label events, people and even the weather good or bad and yet they really are all neutral things that we perceive in a certain way. When we can look at things in more neutral way, we are able to maintain out state of grace, balance, poise. When we don’t, we perpetuate the rollercoaster of life we all live on. We are ALL bipolar to a certain degree. Notice your reactions during the day as you speak to people, as you watch the news, as you live your life, how do you label things? What would life be like if you could move past the extremes of duality, to not forgive your past but realise there is in fact nothing to forgive?

Life is always showing us when we are out of balance and what to do to get back into it. Learn to read the signs, raise your self awareness and you are free.

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