I have had a revelation of sorts today. It is the beginning of a new year and I am fresh with new perspective. I would like to share a few stories that some friends shared with me recently that really struck a cord.
A man named Sei Weng owned a
beautiful mare which was praised far and wide. One day this beautiful
horse disappeared. The people of his village offered sympathy to Sei
Weng for his great misfortune. Sei Weng said simply, "That's the way it
A few days later the lost mare returned, followed by a
beautiful wild stallion. The village congratulated Sei Weng for his good
fortune. He said, "That's the way it is."
Some time later, Sei
Weng's only son, while riding the stallion, fell off and broke his leg.
The village people once again expressed their sympathy at Sei Weng's
misfortune. Sei Weng again said, "That's the way it is."
thereafter, war broke out and all the young men of the village except
Sei Weng's lame son were drafted and were killed in battle. The village
people were amazed as Sei Weng's good luck. His son was the only young
man left alive in the village. But Sei Weng kept his same attitude:
despite all the turmoil, gains and losses, he gave the same reply,
"That's the way it is."
Don't Hit the Dog
A man who had come to visit his brother for a few days went out one morning wearing a white coat. It rained while he was out, so he changed his white coat to a black one before returning to his brother's house. Upon the visitor's return, the house dog barked ferociously because it couldn't recognize the guest. Angry at the dog's unfriendliness, the visitor picked up a stick in order to strike it.
"My dear brother, please don't hit the dog. What if a dog with white hair had gone out in the morning and returned with dark hair in the evening - would you have recognized it?" his brother pleaded.
Looking at his black coat, the visitor laughed and put down the stick.
In most cases when people criticize us they have a reason, just as the barking dog. So instead of getting upset and hitting back, maybe it's wiser to view ourselves from the angle of our critics, and we may even learn something.
Once upon a
time in ancient China, there was a sage who taught the Tao to three
disciples at a distant temple. Once every few months, they would make
the long trip into town to purchase supplies.
On one of these trips, they paused by a
field overgrown with weeds. The sage said to the disciples: "This field
is like the human mind, and the weeds are like negative thoughts. Tell
me, what do you think is the best way to get rid of the weeds?"
The first disciple was quick to answer:
"Just pull up the weeds with your hands, Master. What can be easier than
The second disciple disagreed: "That is
not very effective. Look at how many weeds there are. You can only do so
much before you get tired. The best way is to use tools like the shovel
to uproot the weeds. In the same amount of time, you can do a lot more
with less effort."
The third disciple shook his head: "Even
that is not effective enough. Look at how big this field is. Even with
tools, it will still take quite a while, and it will still be
exhausting. The best way is fire. Set up a perimeter around the field,
and then burn the whole thing. It takes some effort to preapre, but once
that's done, you just stand back and watch the fire do all the work for
The sage smiled approvingly: "You've
given three answers that are quite different, but all interesting."
Months passed, and soon it was time to go
into town for supplies again. The sage and the disciples passed by the
same field as before, but this time it was different. They saw that
farmers had turned it into rice paddies.
The sage turned to them and said: "This
is the reason why I did not name any of your answers as the correct one.
None of you touched the level of the Tao."
The first disciple was curious: "What was
wrong with our solutions, Master?"
"They were all temporary measures." The
sage pointed out: "The weeds will grow back after you have cleared the
field, regardless of your method. The only way to ensure that won't
happen is to replace the weeds with something else - like the rice crop
you see in front of you. Similarly, it is not enough to eliminate
negative thoughts from your mind. You must also plant the seeds of
positive thoughts. That is the only way to ensure that the negativity
will never return."
These are just a few of the stories that have helped me usher in the year of the Water Dragon with a completely new outlook.
Be at Peace.