The story of the Chinese farmer is a well-known tale that is particularly widespread in Taoism and seems to have originated there.
Philosopher Alan Watts liked to give the story of the farmer in his lessons.
But what is the meaning behind the story of the farmer?
The story of the Chinese farmer shows us that it is extremely difficult to classify events as good or bad, because we do not know what consequences these events will have. Many things that seem bad at first glance can have positive effects. However, many things that seem good can also have negative effects.
But before I go into further detail, here is the story of the Chinese farmer. Narrated by Alan Watts:
Here is a small overview of how the rest of the article is structured:
At first part I will translate the actual story.
At second part I will reproduce Alan Watt's explanation of the story in German.
At third part I will present my own opinion on the story.
(You are always welcome to check the timestamps of the respective parts below the video)
1. the translation of the story of the farmer
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer who had lost a horse. It ran away. That evening, all the neighbors came by and said: "That's bad, isn't it?"
To this the farmer replied: "Maybe."
The next day the horse came back and brought seven wild horses. All the neighbors came by again and said, "This is great, isn't it?"
And the farmer replied: „Maybe.“
The next day, when the son tried to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off the horse and broke his leg. Again, all the neighbors came by and said: "That's tragic, isn't it?"
Again the farmer answered: "Maybe."
The next day the conscription officers came, looking for people to join the army. But they rejected the farmer's son because of his broken leg. And all the people from the neighborhood came by in the evening and said: "Isn't that wonderful?"
And again the farmer said: "Maybe."
2. the importance of the history of the farmer
The entire course of nature, is a holistic process of immense complexity. It is really impossible to predict whether something that happens is good or bad. Because you can never know what the consequences of a misfortune can be. Likewise, you can never know what the consequences of a stroke of luck can be.
3. my personal opinion about history of the farmer
I have already spent some time acquiring a non-dualistic way of thinking. That is, I try not to pigeonhole events as good or bad, but to view them as objectively as possible.
However, this is also something that you have to practice constantly. After all, it is quite difficult to find something positive about a rejection for a job. Furthermore, it is also difficult, for example, to find something positive about a cut on your own finger.
So when mishaps happen to me, I try to learn as much as I can from them. This can consist of understanding my emotions better and better as well as improving my practical skills such as cutting vegetables.
So the next time something bad or good happens to you, try not to classify it as good or bad, but just see it for what it is. Because only if we see things as they are, we can handle them as it is necessary. And that would be wonderful, wouldn't it?
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