I heard this story a long time ago, and I’ve always remembered it.
There lived a farmer who had a horse. The horse was incredibly valuable because of how it helped with the daily operation of the farm. One day, his horse runs away. All of the villagers come to console him. How terrible about your horse!
The man simply says. “Maybe so. Maybe not.”
The next day, his horse returns and brings with it twelve wild horses. All of the villagers come to congratulate him. How lucky for you! The man simply says, “Maybe so. Maybe not.”
The following day, his son falls trying to tame one of the wild horses and breaks his leg. All of the villagers come to check on him. How terrible about your son! The man simply says, “Maybe so. Maybe not.”
Shortly afterwards, an army comes through town to take all of the able-bodied young men in the village to a bloody war far away. The man’s son is left behind because of his broken leg. All of the villagers comment on his good fortune, but I bet you know what he said.
We spend most of our lives like the villagers, judging what is happening and riding the emotions that go with our judgment.
If you decide something is good, you are happy. If you decide something is bad, you are unhappy. So, reality isn’t the problem. It is our judgement about our reality that leads to suffering. When we decide the reality we are in is terrible, we suffer terribly.
Since all of that pain is stemming from our judgement, what if we just accept the reality we are in? We don’t have to talk ourselves into seeing it as a good thing either. Seeing the facts as “good” is just a judgement of the reality too, right? What if we are able to just accept what is as what is?
Here’s where some of the resistance comes from… what makes us judge something as bad? Isn’t it just that we want something else? We have desires, and the reality we are experiencing is not measuring up to those desires.
But acceptance of what is does not mean that you don’t set out to change your reality. You can look at the picture and decide that it doesn’t align with your desires WITHOUT judging it as good or bad. If it isn’t lining up with what you want, what action can you take in order for that to happen? We can just skip the suffering piece.
If you think of it as a progression where you have to accept reality first and then decide to take action to change it or to leave it, what can happen is that a person can get trapped at the acceptance stage. They hate the reality. It sucks. They are miserable. All because they haven’t accepted it. And that can go on and on and on, if one lets it.
Once you accept it, you can ask yourself if you want to stay there. Does this reality align with what I want? If yes, what do I need to do to keep it going? If no, what do I need to do to change it?
What if we could remember the story of the farmer and react to our reality the way he did? I mean, we don’t really know how everything is going to unfold anyway. Let’s avoid the emotional roller coaster. When our thinking mind judges something as bad (or good), what if we simply say…
Maybe so. Maybe not.