Oriental Philosophy

Who Knows? [A Zen Tale]

There once was an old farmer who worked in the fields growing crops. One day, his only horse ran away. Soon after, neighbours from the village visited and offered their sympathies “What a shame, now your only horse is gone, how will you work the fields? How unfortunate.”

The farmer replied: “Who knows? We shall see.”

Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthier horses which followed the old horse into the corral. Soon after his neighbours returned and congratulated him “What wonderful news, how fortunate.”

The farmer replied: “Who knows? We shall see.”

At daybreak the next morning, the farmer’s only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses. While breaking one in the farmer’s son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. Later on the villagers again returned “Oh, what a tragedy! Your son won’t be able to help you farm with a broken leg, how unfortunate.”

The farmer replied: “Who knows? We shall see.”

Soon after a war broke out. The Emperor’s men arrived in the village to round up young men for conscription into the army. With his leg broken, the farmer’s son was deemed unfit and he was left behind. Upon seeing how things had turned out, the villagers said to the farmer “How fortunate you are”

The farmer replied: “Who knows? We shall see.”

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