Nothing is Good, Nothing is Bad

There’s an old story said to be dated back to the philosopher Lao Tzu in Ancient China.

The story goes like this…

In Ancient China there lived an old man. He didn’t have much except for a beautiful horse that was the envy of everyone in the village. One day the man awoke and discovered that the horse had escaped.

This is such bad news; that horse would have sold for a high price; you must be so upset” the neighbours said. But the old man didn’t see it that way and just responded with “we shall see“.

A few days past and the horse returned to the stable all by itself. However, it was not alone, it had returned with another beautiful horse. “What good fortune” the villagers said; “now you have two beautiful horses; you are so lucky; you must be so happy” they continued. Again, the man responded with “we shall see“.

The next day the old man’s only son was trying to tame the new horse. As he attempted to ride it the horse reared up and threw the boy on the hard ground breaking both his legs. The boy would not be able to work on their farm and the father was too old to work. How would they earn an income?

What misfortune; you are so unlucky; you must be so upset” exclaimed the villagers. And again, the man simply responded with “we shall see“.

Some time passed and the kingdom went to war. Many young men were being killed in the battles and the army needed more soldiers. The army passed through the town ordering every able-bodied male to fight. Due to his broken legs the old man’s son was not selected and stayed with his father.

What great luck” said the villagers. “Your son can stay; he will not go off to war. Your son’s accident is a blessing, and while his legs may be broken you have many more years with him. You must be so happy“. Again the old man responded with “we shall see“.


Don’t Judge

We often just cast our own judgement on whether a situation is immediately good or bad. Is it possible that our judgements may be wrong?

For a moment try to be impartial and suspend judgement on the situation. Is there anything that is good that you can take from this? Is there anything bad?

How do you know if you’ve been blessed or cursed? How can you actually judge it? No-one knows what will happen next.

You may have to go through something hard now in order to help set you up for the future. What you think is bad now may actually be good for you – and vice versa.

In the long term could this situation be viewed differently? If you knew the whole story you may have a different perspective. The event you’re looking at now may just be a page or a chapter in the book – it’s not the whole story – and you can’t judge a whole book based on just one page.


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