The Chinese Farmer and His Horse

(Sāi Wēng Shī Mǎ or Sāi Wēng lost his horse).

An old Chinese farmer saved up small amounts of money over a year to buy a new horse. Just a day after the farmer bought the horse, it ran away. His neighbour expressed grief, but the farmer himself was calm. “I hope you can get over this bad news” said the neighbor. “Good news or bad news, can’t say” replied the farmer. The next day, the horse returned to the farmer’s house by itself, and brought another stray horse with it. “Cheer up, we’re going to multiply our farm income. That’s great news” said the farmer’s son. “Good news or bad news, can’t say” replied the farmer and carried on with his work. A week later, the farmer took the first horse to his farm and his son took the second horse to follow his father to work. On the way, the second horse pushed the boy down and ran away. The boy’s leg was fractured badly. That evening back home, the farmer’s wife groaned “We will have to spend all our extra savings on our son’s broken leg. What a terrible news”. Once again, the farmer replied: “Good news or bad news, can’t say.” A month later, the farmer’s King announced a war on the neighboring nation. Citing a lack of foot soldiers, the King ordered all able-bodied men in the nation to get drafted into the military without excuses. The farmer’s son was spared because of his broken leg. Later, the inexperienced soldiers got slaughtered in the war. “You are lucky that your son did not get drafted. Mine returned with severe injuries. Many have been handicapped or killed” complained the farmer’s best friend. Unabashed, the farmer responded: “Good news or bad news, can’t say”.

This Chinese proverb points out the nature of reality that good luck can change to bad luck and bad luck can change to good luck. Everything has the potential for change and is impermanent. Follow the mantra of “Maybe” when anything good or bad happens. This reminds one of the possibility that anything can happen in the next moment.

by Dr. Phil Blustein