tao of wisdom story

Never say die

Once upon a time, there is a farmer who has an old mule. The mule fell into a well, which was deep and dry. Desperately the mule cries for help. Hearing its cry, the farmer rushes to the well. It’s not good at all. The well is so deep, and the mule so heavy. What’s he going to do? Since it’s next to impossible to lift the mule out, the farmer decides to leave the mule to die.  

The mule is, after all, already so old. An easy way out is to bury it in the well. It solves two problems. First, the old mule will not have to suffer anymore. Second, the well is dry and useless. He might as well have it filled.

He calls upon his neighbors for help, and they are forthcoming. They shovel the earth into the well that falls on the mule’s back. Knowing their intent, the mule becomes hysterical. It is sure to die, and what is it going to do? Is quietly waiting for the approach of death the only thing it can do? 

 No. There must be a way out! All of a sudden, an idea strikes. Each time the soil falls on the mule’s back, it shakes it off and steps up. Layer and layer of soil become his stairs. Eventually, it walks out of the well to the cheering crowd.  

What can we learn from the story?

Happiness crouches in misery

Nothing is absolute in life. But if you don’t strive for the best, unless you are fortunate, you will not be given the best. See a silver lining in everything you do, even in desperation, just like the mule. 

Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching Chapter 58

Remember also what Lao Tzu says:  “Happiness crouches in misery, and misery lurks in happiness. Is there an absolute? No one can say for sure.”

The story is from Joseph Sica.

Thanks to Jimmy Brown for the picture.

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