Tao Te Ching

Several unexpected, seemingly disastrous  events occurred today.  That got me thinking about change. which reminded me of a story Stephen Mitchell used in his notes in his translation of the Tao Te Ching.  Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, is a manual on the art of living written over 2000 years ago. I have several translations of the Tao.My favorite translation is by Stephen Mitchell. This is the Huai Nan Tzu story Mr. Mitchell shares in his notes for chapter 74.

Trying to control the future: Thinking that you know what is good or bad, what is advantageous or harmful. The Huai Nan Tzu tells a story about this:

A poor farmer’s horse ran off into the country of the barbarians. All his neighbors offered their condolences, but his father said, “How do you know that this isn’t good fortune?” After a few months the horse returned with a barbarian horse of excellent stock. All his neighbors offered their congratulations, but his father said, “How do you know that this isn’t a disaster?” The two horses bred, and the family became rich in fine horses. The farmer’s son spent much of his time riding them; one day he fell off and broke his hipbone. All his neighbors offered the farmer their condolences, but the father said, “How do you know that this isn’t good fortune?” Another year passed, and the barbarians invaded the frontier. All the able-bodied  young men were conscripted, and nine-tenths of them died in the war. Thus good fortune can be disaster and vice versa. Who can tell how events will be transformed?

Advertisements