The Story of the Taoist Farmer

Flying_Horse,_East_Han_Dynasty.Bronze._Gansu_Provincial_Museum wiki

A Chinese folktale:

A man who lived on the northern frontier of China was skilled in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?” Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?” Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved to ride. One day he fell and broke his hip. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

A year later the nomads came in force across the border, and every able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese frontiersmen lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other. Truly, blessing turns to disaster, and disaster to blessing: the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.

Sources – story, image

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7 Responses to The Story of the Taoist Farmer

  1. Queries says:

    A farmer, who lost his wife, had his barn struck by lightening, and burning down with his whole hay crop.
    While driving his tractor it started to rain, slipping a ditch, it turned over pinning him in rising water, he looked up to the sky and did beseech pleadingly “WHY ME LORD, WHY ME!” a small break in the clouds appeared, a shing beam lay upon him, and a big booming voice resounded, “BECAUSE THERE’S JUST SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT PISSES ME OFF!”

  2. LOL, thank you, Q. Another:

    When Zhuangzi’s wife died, his friend Hui Shih found Zhuangzi sitting on the ground, singing and banging on pots. On asking him how he could be so unfeeling to his wife, he was told by Zhuangzi: “When she had just died, I could not help being affected. Soon, however, I examined the matter from the very beginning. At the very beginning, she was not living, having no form, nor even substance. But somehow or other there was then her substance, then her form, and then her life. Now by a further change, she has died. The whole process is like the sequence of the four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. While she is thus lying in the great mansion of the universe, for me to go about weeping and wailing would be to proclaim myself ignorant of the natural laws. Therefore I stopped!”


    It was the very process of change that provided Zhuangzi with a wife who has been unique and exciting. In subsequently reflecting on her ‘loss’, he discovers her continuing participation in the process of change, and his mourning becomes a celebration of her life. Every moment involves both a living and a dying and thereby makes the whole process vibrant and productive. What made his wife a unique and cherished companion is dependent upon the interplay of change and persistence in the human experience. Zhuangzi thought back to the time before his wife was born and had no body – and even farther back, to the time before her spirit existed.

    Source –

  3. wordcloud9 says:

    One of my favorites, told by kids – hope this works

  4. ghotiphaze says:

    I’ve always enjoyed that story, Joy. I first heard it near 50 years ago in grade school and have told it many times in the years since.

  5. Nona, it worked – thank you!
    Fish, this is a favorite for me as well, and my mind went to that story when I was disgusted with the news that the AP called the nomination, on the evening before an eighth of populaiton was set to vote! Agitated again — back to the story!

  6. I see there is a call by many, including the Great Orange Kos, to eliminate the superdelegate system in the Democratic Party. I understand the sentiment; however, my feeling is that the Republican Party now wishes, desperately, that they had such a system this year.

  7. Chuck, I know many people are disgusted with the current system, and I do think it needs to be overhauled, starting with getting rid of DWS, reinstalling the limits on corporate money, and pushing for reforms in an updated voting rights act – requiring auditable ballots for just one thing.

    But I can see value in keeping the superdelgates, the (ahem) adults in the room – as a failsafe in event of a Trump, and – I’ll outright say it – a Clinton taking the party down with them. What if she is indicted? if the Lolita Express and Energizer become more well-known? How about people understanding the pay-to-play schemes such as the one with a private college paying millions to Bill and rec’ing huge grants from the State Dept under Hillary’s watch — and that is just one of a pattern of systematic corruption unlike anything this country has ever seen. And. I. Am. Just. Scratching. The. Surface. But absolutely no lobbyists, no thumbs on the scale during the primary, and no secret ballots – the party elders (not “supers” ) need to own what they do and be answer to their constituents.

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