Friday, September 8, 2006

A story of Lao Tzu times

I've not been able to upload images since yesterday. Is anyone in the same situation? Anyway, no images but at least text is still available. Here's a good story.

>>> This story happened in the days of Lao Tzu in China, and Lao Tzu loved it very much - according to the email received.

There was an old man in a village, very poor, but even kings were jealous of him because he had a beautiful white horse . . . Kings offered fabulous prices for the horse, but the man would say, "This horse is not a horse to me, he is a person. And how can you sell a person, a friend?"

The man was poor, but he never sold the horse.

One morning, he found that the horse was not in the stable. The whole village gathered and they said, "You foolish old man! We knew that someday the horse would be stolen. It would have been better to sell it. What a misfortune!"

The old man said, "Don't go so far as to say that. Simply say that the horse is not in the stable. This is the fact; everything else is a judgment . Whether it is a misfortune or a blessing I don't know, because this is just a fragment. Who knows what is going to follow it?"

People laughed at the old man. They had always known that he was a little crazy.

But after fifteen days, suddenly one night the horse returned. He had not been stolen, he had escaped into the wild. And not only that, he brought a dozen wild horses with him.

Again the people gathered and they said, "Old man, you were right. This was not a
misfortune, it has indeed proved to be a blessing."

The old man said, "Again you are going too far. Just say that the horse is back . . . who knows whether it is a blessing or not? It is only a fragment.
You read a single word in a sentence-how can you judge the whole book?"

This time the people could not say much, but inside they knew that he was wrong. Twelve beautiful horses had come . . .

The old man had an only son who started to train the wild horses. Just a week later he fell from a horse and his legs were broken. The people gathered again and again they judged. They said, "Again you proved right! It was a misfortune. Your only son has lost the use of his legs, and in your old age he was your only support. Now you are poorer than ever."

The old man said, "You are obsessed with judgment. Don't go that far. Say only that my son has broken his legs. Nobody knows whether this is a misfortune or a blessing. Life comes in fragments and more is never given to you."

It happened that after a few weeks the country went to war, and all the young men of the town were forcibly taken for the military. Only the old man's son was left, because he was crippled. The whole town was crying and weeping, because it was a losing fight and they knew most of the young people would never come back. They came to the old man and they said, "You were right, old man this has proved a blessing. Maybe your son is crippled, but he is still with you. Our sons are gone

The old man said again, "You go on and on judging. Nobody knows! Only say this, that your sons have been forced to enter into the army and my son has not been forced. But only God, the total, knows whether it is a blessing or a misfortune."

'Judge ye not' - Otherwise you will never become one with the total. With fragments you will be obsessed, with small things you will jump to conclusions. Once you judge you have stopped growing. Judgment means a stale state of mind. And mind always wants judgment, because to be in process is always hazardous and uncomfortable. In fact, the journey never ends. One path ends, another begins, one door closes another opens. You reach a peak; a higher peak is always there. God is an endless journey. Only those who are so courageous that they don't bother about the goal but are content with the journey, content just to live the moment and grow into it, only those, are able to walk with the total.

Source unknown


  1. Anonymous12:44 PM

    That's very profound. I like it...

  2. Anonymous2:33 PM

    Well said. just like the lotus story in robin's blog


  3. Anonymous2:34 PM

    Judging is inborn in everyone, not easy to not judge
    I have learnt that we should not judge at all, but after all that, we tend to judge ourselves rather than judging others.
    Do you agree?

  4. The old man is wise, and nothing is wiser than wisdom.

  5. Hi Ian, glad you like it.

    SF, yeah.

    Z, don't be too harsh on yourself though.;)

    Joe, agree. On 'wisdom', it brings to mind a quote that goes something like this:
    Learn from the mistakes of others for you don't live long enough to make all of them.

  6. hmm... would be too dull without much feelings.

    Example: when there 12 petty horses, the old man do not feel happy...when the son fell from horse, the old man not sad.


  7. Lao Tzu rocks!!!!

    I studied a bit of his philosophy in college and really liked it. Maybe I should see if I still have that book. Only God (tao?) knows whether my not having it handy is a problem or not...

  8. R Sponge, yeah, quite impossible, isn't it? Life would be too dull, I agree. Perhaps he's a person who doesn't show his feelings - good or bad. A lot of olden Chinese people are like that. I've come across them - I used to have neighbours like that. They hardly even smiled let alone grinning from ear-to-ear from elation. I can only guess that they must have undergone Lao Tzu studies having come to Malaya from China. Fascinating lot they were.

  9. MM, looks like an ang mo (meaning you) has a wider knowledge of Lao Tzu than a Chinese here (meaning me). tsk tsk!

    Yes, Lao Tzu rocks! Interestingly, there are some quarters who believe that he did not exist.

  10. haha, this is a chinese saying..

    赛翁失马 焉知非福

    which is the exact story.. Strange, Chinese require 8 words to explain this theory but English need one whole page.

  11. btw.. the story if not from Lao Tzu..

    although Lao Tzu rocks..

  12. Robin, that 8-character "saying" totally confused Babelfish...meaning this Ang mo is still totally in the dark...

  13. Robin, ahh...a Chinaman is known to be a man of few words.

    Nothing happens by chance and what is lost may not be a bad thing.

    Thanks for pointing out about the source of the story.

    Robin, your detailed explanation for MM, please.