Story of Tao that sets your mind thinking: Old Man & His Horse


An old man, who lives on the northern frontier of China, is capable of interpreting events.

One day, for no reason he loses his horse. It runs away to the nomads across the border. His neighbors come round to comfort him. Yet he says, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

Months later his horse returns, bringing along a superb nomad stallion. Everyone congratulates him. Yet he says, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?”

The family is now richer by adding the fine horse. His son loves to ride. Unfortunately, the boy falls from the horse one day and breaks his hip. Neighbors come round to comfort him, and yet the man says, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

A year later, the nomads cross the border to attack the country. Every able-bodied man has to takes his bow and fight in the battle. Nine out of every ten men on the frontier are killed. Fortunately, because his son is lame he is spare from fighting in the battle, and the man has his son survived so that they can take care of each other.

So as Lao Tzu says,

Good fortune has its roots in disaster,
and disaster lurks with good fortune.
Who knows why these things happen,
or when this cycle will end?
Good things seem to change into bad,
and bad things often turn out for good.
These things have always been hard to comprehend.

Tao Te Ching Chapter 58

Thanks Valdemar Fishmen for the picture.

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