Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blessings Amid Misfortune

Almost two weeks ago, one of my spiritual mentors observed a pattern of anger in my life tending to adversely affect the outcome of my prayers. I blogged about it shortly afterwards, and since then, I meditated on the nature of anger several times a day. This morning, I read a passage that seemed to address this issue in a meaningful way:

"The Farmer whose Horse Ran Away..."

On hearing of the misfortune (of the farmer's horse running away), the farmer's neighbor arrived to commiserate, but all he got from the farmer was, "Who knows what's good or bad?" This proved to be true, for the next day the horse returned, bringing with it a drove of wild horses in its train. This time the neighbor arrived with congratulations, only to receive the same response. This too was so, for the next day the farmer's son tried to mount one of the wild horses and broke a leg. More commiserations from the neighbor, with the same response which was again validated, for soldiers soon came around commandeering for an army, and the son was spared because of his injury.

~An old Taoist story as quoted by Huston Smith in "The Illustrated World's Religions: A Guide to our Wisdom Traditions."

Isn't it true? That which we call misfortune often turns out to be a blessing, and that which we consider good fortune sometimes turns out to be a curse. What purpose does it serve then to be angry at our so-called losses and misfortunes, if they may yet prove to bless us?

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