Too often and too quickly we rush to judge, decide, and label an event as soon as it happens. Of the four religions/philosophies I have spent time studying, all of them caution against this rush to judgement. I was guilty of it myself this week, and it reminded me of one of my favorite Buddhist/Taoist fables.
- An old farmer had worked his crops for many years with one horse. 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.
It’s tempting to pass immediate judgement on an event, and in reality (as opposed to a fable) rare will be the occasion you will be grateful for a broken leg. But if you practice not passing judgement on the little things, when the big things do occur you will have already developed a broader perspective through which to view the event.