By Dr. Marta Adelsman
Life Coach in Communication and Consciousness
(October 24, 2018)
A farmer lived with his son near a village. He had a prized possession — a beautiful horse.
One day his horse ran away. His neighbors came to his house to express their sympathy. They told him, “We’re so sorry about your horse.” And the farmer said, “Who knows what is good or bad? Wait and see.”
The neighbors felt confused because they considered their friend’s loss a terrible misfortune. But the horse came back the next day, followed by a dozen wild horses. The farmer’s son opened the gate to the corral, and then closed it again behind the herd of horses.
The neighbors returned to celebrate with the farmer and his son. “What good fortune!” they exclaimed. And the farmer again replied, “Who knows what is good or bad? Wait and see.”
The next day, the farmer’s son started to tame one of the new horses. The horse threw him and the son broke his leg. The neighbors came back, wringing their hands. “We’re so sorry about your son’s leg. What a terrible thing!”
The farmer repeated, “Who knows what is good or bad? Wait and see.”
The very next day, the army came through the village to conscript able-bodied young men to fight in a war. But because of his broken leg, they did not require the son to go.
“What good fortune that your son stays with you!” exclaimed the villagers. “Who knows what is good or bad?” replied the farmer. “Wait and see.”
The story can continue back and forth like this. “Good” and “bad” are simply labels. The disagreement between these labels doesn’t really exist. There is only an apparent conflict between them, not an actual one.
Good and bad exist inside a greater whole. They serve a purpose within that whole, and the purpose often lies beyond our mind’s understanding. From our vantage point, caught in a world of opposites and often pulled between them, we simply cannot discern the reality, which is the whole.
The farmer in the story had attained an awakened perspective. He could look at the situation from outside it. As the observer, he rose above the viewpoints of good and bad. He could hold the two in tension, avoiding the anxiety of the opposites vying for his attention. From a serene place of non-attachment, he accepted every situation with an even, peaceful temperament.
Knowing the whole contains the opposites, we can trust it even though we don’t always see or understand it. Whether it’s an unexpected upset in a relationship, a job, a living situation, or in politics, the whole picture lies beyond our current knowing.
Think of a situation in which you flip between hope and despair. Apply the farmer’s words to this life situation: “Who knows what is good or bad? Wait and see!”