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Lesson from a Farmer

I’m reading Jay Shetty’s “Think Like a Monk”. Well, actually I’m listening to it, but that counts, right? As reading?

In it, Jay tells a story about a farmer. The story, though simple, helped him learn an important lesson in his monk training – “Don’t judge the moment” – a lesson we could all use. I’m going to share the story here, no additional narrative, just the story. Take from it what you will.

There’s an old Taoist [Chinese religion] parable about a farmer whose horse ran away. “How unlucky!” his brother tells him. The farmer shrugs. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” he says. A week later, the wayward horse finds its way home, and with it is a beautiful wild mare. “That’s amazing!” his brother says, admiring the new horse with no small envy. Again, the farmer is unmoved. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” he says. A few days later, the farmer’s son climbs up on the mare, hoping to tame the wild beast, but the horse bucks and rears, and the boy, hurled to the ground, breaks a leg. “How unlucky!” his brother says, with a tinge of satisfaction. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” the farmer replies again. The next day, the young men of the village are called into military service, but because the son’s leg is broken, he is excused from the draft. His brother tells the farmer that this, surely, is the best news of all. “Good thing, bad thing, who knows,” the farmer says.

The farmer in this story didn’t get lost in the “what if” but instead focused on “what is.”

Here’s to giving our attention to what is instead of what might be.


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