Most of us consider our life experience to be either good or bad, mostly based on whether we like them or not. The Taoist masters invite us to look beyond, to look deeper. In the flow of life, where everything is constantly changing, the more we live with awareness of the inevitable tides of the Tao, the less linear and obvious our life experiences become.


This Taoist parable illustrates this:


When an old farmer’s stallion won a prize at a country show, his neighbour called round to congratulate him, but the old farmer said, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”


The next day some thieves came and stole the valuable animal. When the neighbour came to commiserate with him, the old man replied, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”


A few days later the spirited stallion escaped from the thieves and joined a herd of wild mares, leading them back to the farm. The neighbour called in to share the farmer’s joy, but the farmer responded, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?”


The following day, while trying to break in one of the mares, the farmer’s son got thrown and fractured his leg. The neighbour called to share the farmer’s sorrow, but the old man’s attitude remained the same as before.


The following week the army passed by, forcibly conscripting soldiers for the war, but they did not take the farmer’s son because he couldn’t walk. And the neighbour thought to himself, “Who knows what is good and what is bad?” realising that the old farmer must be a Taoist sage.


Image by Vincent Botta from Unsplash