Zadra Creative Blog

How do You Know it’s Bad?

A Taoist tale for the ages

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There was an old man who was considered to be an odd sort of fellow because of the strange way he had of looking at things.

One day, the old man went out to clean his horse stalls, but he forgot to latch the corral. A few minutes later his prized white stallion pushed open the gate and ran away.

When the old man’s friends heard the news, they rushed to console him. “We heard you lost your prized stallion,” they cried. “That’s too bad!”

“How do you know it’s bad?” was all the old man said.

The very next day the white stallion returned with two beautiful wild mares following him. The old man locked the three horses safely in the corral. This brought the neighbors on the run. “Good! Good!” they exclaimed.

“How do you know it’s good?” shrugged the old man.

The next day, the old man’s son went out to train one of the wild mares. As soon as the son swung into the saddle the mare reared back and threw him to the ground, fracturing the son’s leg. Hearing this, the old man’s neighbors came to console him. “We heard your son broke his leg,” they said, “that’s too bad!”

“How do you know it’s bad?” the old man asked.

Early the next morning, a marauding warlord and his evil army came through the land, drafting all able-bodied young men to leave home and fight with them. When they came to get the old man’s son, he couldn’t go. He wasn’t able-bodied. Fortunately he had a broken leg.

MORAL: As William Shakespeare put it 400 years ago: Things are neither good nor bad, but thinking makes them so.

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