I had a flat tyre on the car when I got back from London last night. It was a cold, wet, windy evening. I didn’t have the means to replace the tyre myself and ended up waiting for the breakdown service. As I was waiting I was reminded of Byron Katie’s wonderful book Loving What Is. We spend so much of our lives resisting what is, resenting what is even, and wasting energy fighting the way life is.
It’s like the Buddhist saying “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. In other words bad stuff happens, we make it better or worse by our reactions. And what if the worst that could happen was the best that could happen?
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “May be,” 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. “May be,” 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. “May be,” said the farmer.