This is an ancient Chinese story, which is well known as a chengyu (4 character saying) even today in modern China.
Sai Weng Shi Ma
There is a very famous Taoist story. The story is about an old Taoist farmer whose horse ran away…..
That evening the neighbours gathered to sympathize with him since this was such bad luck. He said, “Maybe.”
The next day the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses and the neighbours came exclaiming at the good fortune. He said, “Maybe.”
And then the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again the neighbours came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, “Maybe.”
The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer’s son was rejected. When the neighbours came in to say how fortunate everything had turned out, he said, “Maybe.”
Lesson: Certainty and Accidental
This is the attitude of a man who understands what is accidental and what is essential. The accidental is always ‘maybe’; it is a ‘perhaps’.
We cannot be certain about it; we need not be certain about it.
People who become certain about the accidental are going to be frustrated sooner or later; their certainty is going to create much frustration for them—because in this entire existence nothing is permanent, nothing is certain. Everything is in a flux. Except the Absolute Truth—the unchanging substratum of all that is manifest and the unmanifest—and the law of change, everything is ever changing and modifying in the incessant flow of time like a flowing river.
We don’t enter the same river twice. The water drops that touched us on the previous occasion has flowed down and is not the same water that will touch us when we enter the river again. Moreover, the person who enters the river has also changed. It is not the same person who entered earlier, because the body and mind is also subject to constant modification.
The certainty of those who are certain about the accidental will create expectations, and they cannot be fulfilled–because the universe is not there to fulfill our expectations.
It has its own destiny. It is moving towards its own goal.
It does not care about our private goals…unless it is aligned with the universal goal.
The spiritual person knows uncertainty—
a state of mind unknown to the zealots and fanatics.