We Shall See

The Farmer’s Son: a Taoist meditation for today

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 a neighbor, himself old with a son.

One day the old man’s horse ran off, and the neighbor, 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 neighbor, 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 neighbor, 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 neighbor, 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.”

We are living in crazy times, apocalyptic times for some.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Will it be joy or will it be pain?

In the end, does it matter?

2 Responses to We Shall See

  1. Malisha says:

    I like that story. I know a Hebrew version of it. A young man goes to his Rabbi and says, “I have registered for the draft. What will become of me?” The Rabbi says, “There are two possibilities. Either you WILL be drafted or you will NOT.” The young man asks, “But if I am, what then?” The Rabbi says, “Either you will see combat or you will not see any combat.” The young man asks, “But if I DO see combat, what then?” The Rabbi says, “Either you will be injured or you will come through without any injury.” The man asks, “What if I am wounded?” The Rabbi answers, “Either you will recover or you will not recover, but will die from your wounds.” The young man asks, “Oh NO, what if I die?” The Rabbi answers, “There are STILL two possibilities!”

  2. bettykath says:

    Interesting story. I have found that worry doesn’t do much that is useful.

    Many years ago I had two girls visiting me who were quite young and nearly the same age. We had a chimney fire. My husband and I both dealt with it as matter of fact, without panic. I took the girls outside while my husband called the fire department and dealt with the fire. The reactions of the girls were interesting. One was very matter of fact, dealing with the immediate “now” – it’s cold, can we get our coats and shoes (they were ready for bed). The other was in the unknowing future, anticipating all sorts of things that were unlikely, making her very anxious – is the house burning down, where will we go, etc. I put the girls in the car and retrieved their coats and boots. Once the fire was out, but the fire fighters were doing some clean up, the girls had the opportunity to interact with the chief who gave them each a light stick. Afterward, the girls got a tour to show that the fire was really out, that there wasn’t much damage, assurances that the fire fighters did a great job. The next day the matter-of-fact girl had moved on, much like the farmer. Days later the other girl was still worried about the what ifs. She was given more reassurances and tours but it took her much longer to stop worrying. In the meantime, she missed enjoying the other fun activities, much like the neighbor. As the girls matured and had children of their own, these same characteristics continue, although the “neighbor” now deals with much of her anxiety by giving her worries to God or Jesus.

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