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Do you know the key to resilience and inner peace?

Apr 19, 2024


A Zen Story that captures the essence.


Once upon a time in a rural village, there lived an old farmer. He led a simple yet contented life. One day, his prized horse, the most valuable possession he owned, disappeared.


News of the loss quickly spread throughout the village, and the town people gathered to express their sympathy.


“Are you okay? You lost your most valuable horse! This is terrible news.”


The old farmer, however, remained calm. He replied to their condolences with a simple answer: 




Days passed, and to everyone's astonishment, the lost horse returned, bringing more wild horses with it.


The villagers came back and said, “What great fortune. You must feel so lucky. You now have many horses!”


Yet again, he responded with the same answer: "Maybe."


The farmer's only son took a liking to the new stallion and began to train it. In the process, he was thrown off and broke his leg.


Once more, the villagers gathered, expressing their sympathy for this latest misfortune.


“Your only son is hurt. How sad that you will have a hard time surviving”.


And once more, the old farmer's response was, "Maybe."


Soon after, the country went to war, and the army came to conscript all able-bodied young men. The farmer's son, with his broken leg, was exempted from the draft. 


The villagers, now gathered again and said, “You are the luckiest indeed. Your son is saved from war and death.”


The farmer said, “Maybe.”



This Zen story reminds us of an essential truth. That "good" or "bad" are not absolute truths, but relative ones.


Whether an event is good or bad, is not determined by the event itself, but by our attitude when the event happens.


Success is not always good.


Failure is not always bad.


Success and failure are ultimately what you make them out to be. The true factor that determines whether a life experience was positive or negative is determined ultimately by our response to it.


Winning a lottery and squandering the wealth away makes it into a grave loss.


Suffering great misfortune, but converting that pain into meaning and passion, is a great victory.


Perhaps you are also going through a difficult time at the moment.


Some of you are going through breakups or divorces. Some of you are dealing with a health crisis.


Some of you are working through betrayal, some of you through a business failure.


Some are battling addictions, while others are fighting depression or anxiety.


Whatever it is, ultimately, your attitude, not the thing, will determine your future.

Reflect deeper using these Questions:


  1. How do I usually respond to life's twists and turns?


Consider your own responses to both favorable and unfavorable events. Do I shut down? Do I eagerly celebrate? Do I lose control when I receive bad news ? Am I patient when I receive good news?


If you can treat good news and bad news, more or less the same, you are walking on the right path.


See whether your reactions can be more neutral the next time something good happens.


  1. Can I adopt a more patient attitude toward life's uncertainties?


Ask yourself whether anything ever remains unchanged for a long time. Reflect on how in the past, negative events turned into the positive, while the positive often were not what they seemed.


That relationship you thought was going to last, or that job you eagerly accepted and then regretted.

Or that failure which turned into a new avenue for growth.

For example, Only because I got laid off from my job, and had to leave the United States, could I make a better choice next time. If that event wouldn't have happened, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this for you.


  1. Do outer circumstances truly define my peace and joy?


Treat the ups and downs, both as temporary.


Say to yourself, “This too shall pass”, and it will.



And what's more you'll enjoy it more while it's here.

In Conclusion:


There is wisdom in understanding the profound interconnectedness of all things.


You cannot see how they connect in the future, but look into your past, and you’ll see how intricately all the good things in life are connected to the painful ones.


It is unwise to be attached to successes, as it is to despair in failures.


As you navigate the complexities of life, hope this Zen story inspire you to find tranquility in the midst of constant change.


If you like Zen Wisdom, I would recommend a book called, “Zen flesh, Zen Bones” by Paul Reps. It’s one of my favorite books.


You can also read more Zen stories for free here if you like. 


Let me know if you have ever experienced a positive thing coming out of a negative one. I am interested in your experiences.


Wishing you peace and clarity.




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