20140820

Maybe - A Zen Story about Acceptance and Surrender

A farmer lived in the days when fighting was going on between small kingdoms in China. This farmer had a son.

His son, with the aid of the horse, was tilling a small field. One day the horse ran away. The neighbors came and said, 'It's a very bad thing. You have such bad luck." The farmer said, "Maybe."

So the next day the horse came back with half a dozen other wild horses. The neighbors came again and they said, "What tremendous luck." So he said, "Maybe."

On the third day the son, while trying to ride one of the wild horses, fell and broke his leg. Again, the neighbors came and said what bad luck it was, and the farmer said, "Maybe."

The next day the king's people came to recruit strong healthy farmers into the army. When they found this farmer's son with a broken leg they left him alone. So, again, the neighbors came and said it wasn't such bad luck after all and that everything had turned out well. The farmer said, again, "Maybe."

By saying "Maybe", the farmer shows acceptance of the trials of life and surrender to the Absolute. He lets go of clinging to this life, and lets God work in his mysterious ways.

While the farmer could have reacted to the three misfortunes that happened to him, he didn't. Instead, he ignored his neighbours who attributed his misfortune to luck but held his peace. Therefore misfortune is not due to luck at all; nor is good fortune.

Circumstances will happen for a reason that we cannot fully understand, and only through maintaining this farmer's stoicness are we able to open our eyes to the truth.

By accepting the trials of life without lamentation, the wise are able to surrender to the Absolute. This is known as "letting go and letting God."

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