Thursday, March 17, 2005

Good Luck/Bad Luck

On St. Patrick's Day one likes to ponder the famous Luck of the Irish. There is a tale from ancient China which questions luck...and whether it is good or bad. What we think is good luck often turns out to be bad luck. And what we think to be bad luck often turns out to be good luck...
“An old man was living with his son at the top of a hill. One day, he lost a horse. The neighbors all came to express their sympathy at his bad luck, but the old man said,
How do you know this isn’t good luck?
A little later the horse came back and with it were some superior wild horses. The neighbors all congratulated the old man on his good fortune, but he said,
How do you know this isn’t bad luck?
With so many horses, the son began riding, and one day he fell off and broke his leg. The
injury left him with a bad limp. Again the neighbors came to sympathize, but the old man said,
You never know – this may be good luck.
Another year passed, and a war came. All the able-bodied young men had to go to war, and many died. The son, because of his bad leg, was saved. In this way, what seems to be good luck may really be bad, and what seems to be bad luck, good.”
(from Li Zi, adapted by Lin Yutang)

UPDATE: There is also an excellent variant, with commentary on 9/11 at the wondrous Pratie's Place.


Blogger melinama said...

You can get out of my head now. This very story (but in its Russian-Jewish variant, where the boy gets passed by when the czar's army sweeps through town) is in my "to blog" file.

12:21 PM  
Blogger anonyMoses said...

LOL! It's probably the Cambridge gene or something...

I'd love to see the Russia-Jewish version. I think I remember seeing a Sufic version somewhere too. Probably Idries Shah...

Y'all got snow up yonder?
Keeps threatening here, but so far...just cold yucky rain.


12:51 PM  

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