Good Luck? Bad Luck? Who Can Tell?

(This is a story that I’ve always liked that seems particularly appropriate on a day like today.)

In medieval China there once lived an old farmer who had a weak, ailing horse for ploughing his field. One day, the sickly horse ran away to the hills.

The farmer’s neighbors offered their sympathy to him: “Such rotten luck!” they exclaimed.

“Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?” mused the farmer.

A week later, the old horse returned, bringing with it a herd of wild horses from the hills. This time, the neighbors swarmed around the farmer and congratulated him on his good luck. His reply, however, was the same: “Good luck? Bad luck? Who can tell?”

Sometime later, while trying to tame one of the wild horses, the farmer’s only son fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this was bad luck. “Bad luck? Good luck? I don’t know,” said the farmer.

A few weeks later, the king’s army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied young man living there. The farmer’ s son, who was laid up with a broken leg was let off, for he was thought to be of no use to them.

Now what was this? Good luck or bad luck? Who can tell?

Things that seem adverse on the surface may actually be good in disguise. And something that seems to be attractive and ‘lucky’ may actually be harmful to our best interests. The learned ones often leave it to a higher power beyond the material world to decide what is best for them.

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