Once upon a time there was 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.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you practice equanimity? Can you share a personal experience of a time when you were able to keep your balance inspite of temptations to lose it? How do we protect ourselves from indifference and sentimentality at the same time?
Love this! It sums up a discussion in which I participated last night re: Everything has value.
Living a life free from specific expectation, judgment, and (mostly fear-based) survival instinct (for preserving both one's physical body and non-physical ego), what would it be like?
My son took a bad fall in Germany this past summer and ended up hospitalized for a week; this brought our vacation to an abrupt end. He was very depressed for a couple of months and has had to give up his favorite sport. But, this has given him a chance to pursue singing and theater. I also remind him how lucky he is to be alive and how his accident could've sent a message about our plans to traverse the hundreds of miles of semi-dangerous (or so I've been told) roadways in Norway. Although we don't always (ever?) understand why things happen, they still happen and maybe even for a purpose. Looking for that "purpose" is often futile and leads nowhere.
This story is from a Taoist Book, I think the Chuang Tshu.
"How do we protect ourselves from indifference and sentimentality at the same time?" Can we explore and find out who is this OURSELVES?
Life is not an addition of single event. Every action, every event is part of the whole. Trying non to detach the single from the whole helps me to keep my balance
When I practice equanimity, I live the awareness that you never know. Something I think is good can turn out not good, and something I think is unfortunate can turn out to be good fortune. Reminding myself that life is uncertainty helps me to stay calm when things aren't going the way I expect or think they should. Also, practicing equanimity seems to be based on my staying in the present which helps me realize that change and surprise are always, and not trying to grasp hold of a specific outcome which sets me up for disappointment and aggravation. As for personal experiences, I know I used to get bent out of shape more easily and frequently than happens nowadays. I have become more accepting and less controlling, which makes for more equanimity, which pleases me. We protect ourselves from indifference and sentimentality by being clear that equanimity doesn't mean to not care. Equanimity is based on caring while knowing that change and surprise are constant and I have very little if any control.[Hide Full Comment]
I've heard humility defined as, "Suspending judgment to allow what is, to arise." How natural it is for the farmer to be humble, how difficult for us, with our multiplicity of wants, needs, desires, and views. Remembering personal history, and how often things which seemed like victories came with barbs and traps, while that which often felt like defeat was actually a gateway to brighter vistas is of great help to me in staying balanced with the present moment.
A powerful & excellent reminder to not judge situations or circumstances. A difficult childhood (my dad a Vietnam Vet was severely clinically depressed & tried to kill himself 5 times before I was 21, he died when I was 22) led me to great compassion & to seeking out joy in the small things in life which has led to creating Storytelling programs about discovering joy within the darkness. Being bullied in school also cemented compassion and a mission to never allow anyone to feel as hurt as I did which led to workshops with students & teachers. Anorexia and a 20 year challenge with body image also led to now speaking about it in public and hopefully helping others embrace & celebrate their bodies whatever their body size. A family that was fearful led me to stepping outside the comfort zone. The list goes on. Are there challenges? Yes, but I do believe that our challenges also can serve us and others. Nothing is 100% good or bad, everything is Maybe. HUGS to everyone.[Hide Full Comment]
We were singing today in the car, and to share what I was feeling, I sang a hindi song - "Ohre Taal mile Nadi ke jal mein"
(The lake merges with the river....the river merges with the sea....but which water does the sea merge with....no one knows!)
So the 'I don't know' feeling is very alive for me at the moment - the very same action that we may consider helpful may actually be causing harm at other levels (and vice versa)
Which leaves me just having the present moment, and my spontaneous feeling as a space to act from - there, I can rest in knowing that what I did was natural, from the right intent and will have its own unfolding
I love and think of this story often. Being hit by a truck while riding my bicycle to high school led to a "bad" concussion and my being excused from classes and teenage restlessness. This led to me meeting Deaf people and their beautiful visual language, changing me and my life. Being neglected - left out of the dinner conversation - in a big family set me up to be empathetic and present when life confronted me with a languageless adult who opened a door I would never have seen. I am now continuing to follow the unknown, traveling with no destination, after giving up my room and most of my "good" stuff, practicing letting go of my judgments and showing up where ever I am invited to share stories of losses, gains, wild horses, broken legs, and life and living in spite of war.