Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Taoist Farmer

I am a strong believer in non-coincidence, if that's even a word. It's not that coincidences don't occur- they certainly do. The laws of statistical probability dictate that some things co-occur by chance alone. But, I believe that, sometimes, we find ourselves in a place or a situation in which we were intended to be.

I don't profess to understand how this works, but I find it a comfort to think that all of our lives are like some woven tapestry, and we're free to follow the threads where they go, in and out of the fabric. We interesect with other lives, not by mere coincidence, but because their threads have been woven into ours. And the threads don't even have to be red (wink, wink)!

I have also always believed in the proverb "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." That saying is probably over-used and even trivialized these days, but, yesterday, I was ready to be taught a lesson, and, remarkably, it appeared from the most unlikely source.

As I desribed in my last post, we found out on Thursday night that our LOA took a lot longer to get to the CCAA then we expected... putting more in jeopardy the liklihood that we'll travel with our assigned group in August (although, to be completely honest, I have always had this feeling that we'd be in China during the month of September). Getting that bit of news disoriented me far more than I'd have expected. It's the feeling of "being neither here nor there", not knowing where I need to commit my energies.

So, on Friday, I decided to find solace in comfort food. The deep-fried kind. At lunch time, I drove to a particular fast-food restaurant that will remain nameless, but the line-ups for Big Macs were just crazy, so I ducked out to another fast-food place down the road. After ordering my burger, onion rings, and tall mug of foamy root beer, I grabbed a couple of local community entertainment/what's-happening-in-the-city type guides. And in one of them, on page 7, was an article called "Good or Bad? What do you think?". Here is a rendition of the story that was described in the article:


There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops
for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "Maybe," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "Maybe," replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "Maybe," answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "Maybe," said the farmer.

Now, talk about timing. The wisdom in that story was certainly something that I needed to hear. Was it a coincidence, maybe, that I found that article in that newspaper on that day? Hmm... maybe.

You can find this story and other Taoist and Zen stories here. There are lots of other websites with great quotes and stories from the Taoist teachers, like this one from Wikiquote.


redmaryjanes said...

I believe in fate as well, but I believe God is in control.
Same conclusion, just a different path leading to it.
Looking back on my life, I can see many disappointments that actually turned out to be blessings.
Escpecially in my love life.

Carolyn said...

I think all our paths are the same. We just think they're different. And that it doesn't matter what name we give to the forces of life, it's the same Energy. I identify as Christian, too, but I'm beginning to understand that what we "call" or label ourselves is probably important only to us, not to our Creator. And its our actions, more than our beliefs or traditions, that matter.

new girl said...

I like your previous comment, Carolyn. I have read this story before and it's a good teacher no matter what your going through in life.

wzgirl said...

Thank you, Carolyn. For providing me a lesson this morning.

a&mg said...

This story is a good example of a basic element of taoism, which is balance. We'll have the bad, but the good will come too. An important thing to remember.

"M" said...

Carolyn, I share some similar beliefs, but you articulated it better than I could have. I keep trying to remember this as I wait, and wait, and wait. Sometimes I just wish we could have a sneak preview into the lesson we will be learning to keep us on track.

walternatives said...

Great post, Carolyn but your own comment is so very, very good. It directly reflects my own beliefs. Thanks for a bit of thoughtful reinforcement; it's been a rough morning and I needed to refocus on the preferrable perspective.

Ms. Dragonfly said...

I liked that farmer story, you've iven me soemthing to ponder....hmm....

Robert said...

Fate can be found in the choices we make. Therefore fate is only an illusion.