Is it good or bad?

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We can never fully know the meaning of what is happening to us now. Life-defining moments often become clear only in hindsight. We often miss what is in front of us by leaning too far into the future, or having too fixed a plan for our life. Cultivating a “Don’t Know” mind helps us allow things unfold in their own time.

There was an old man with a small farm in China many years ago. He had one son, who did most of the work on the farm and a neighbour, himself old with a son.

One day the old man’s horse ran off, and the neighbour, seeing this, said, “How terrible, your horse has run off, now work on your farm will be so difficult.” To this the old man replied, “Maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the old man’s horse returned leading a group of wild horses, and the neighbour, seeing this, said, “How wonderful! You have many horses, now you have great wealth and may live easily.” To this the old man replied, “Maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the old man’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg, and the neighbour, seeing this, said, “How terrible, your son has broken his leg, now your work will be doubled as nurse and farmer.” To this the old man replied, “Maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

The next day the king’s men came to the farms seeking all able men to fight a distant battle, and the neighbour, sobbing as his son marched off, said “How fortunate you are for having an injured son, mine will surely perish.” To this the old man replied, “Maybe good, maybe bad, we’ll see.”

A Taoist Tale

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