Many thanks to Aspiring Taoist for this nice write-up!

Aspiring Taoist

“Pastel Plum Blossoms” by Ren Adams

Although I love words and spend much of my time reading and writing, words seem limited in their power to communicate.  Some things can’t be described, and just have to be experienced directly.  I don’t think 1,000 words or more could ever be adequate to describe the feelings evoked by looking at the art by Ren Adams above, or could be adequate to describe the experience of listening to certain music that you love, or being with someone you love.  Writers know this.  I was struck when I came across this quote by the great American writer, William Faulkner:

“I would say that music is the easiest means in which to express, since it came first in man’s experience and history.  But since words are my talent, I must try to express clumsily in words what the pure music would have done better. …

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Yes! Tao Shrine is reopening its doors.

I have been too busy to maintain it properly the last few years as I was completing a BFA. With a heavy sense of irony (I should have made time to write here, while proposing others should make time to cultivate) I am happy to return and hope that some of you readers are still out there somewhere.




When we define some events as good and other events as bad, we instantly qualify them with merit (or demerit) that is really unnecessary and often incorrect. We often find ourselves mired in suffering, sadness and confusion and there’s nothing abnormal about this. It’s very easy to get knocked off-center and to find yourself trying to analyze events in terms of “blessing” or “disaster.”


A blog I read posted a “philosophical musing” the author found on Facebook. I don’t need to tell you that a lot of the material on Facebook is neither “deep” nor “thoughtful,” and the author was moved to write her own response, coming from her unique perspective, about the quote. The original phrase was meant to be uplifting or inspiration, but implies a lot of what Taoism (and Buddhism) avoid to begin with, so I thought I would share it here.


The quote she found:

There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept; things we don’t want to know, but have to learn; and people we can’t live without, but have to let go.”


My analytical break-down and  response (edited for space and continuity) from a Taoist perspective:



I feel that the quote shared on Facebook (as with many quotes on Facebook) is meant to be “deep” and thoughtful, but is really neither.

“There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept;”

This part of the quote instantly implies  that things we don’t want are negative, thus forcing us to “accept” these “bad” things when they do. Qualifying life events as good or bad tends to disturb the delicate flow and balance of things and is often unnecessary. From a Taoist perspective, we might say, “it may seem bad at first, but how do we know it’s not a good thing in the end?” rendering our subjugation to “acceptance” null.

We don’t need to accept it, because we are not expecting anything. Keeping a neutral, open mind allows us to let things come and go, even situations that cause pain, because we are not declaring them to be “bad” or “good.”

There’s a Taoist story about a farmer and his son who find a horse that describes this sense of neutrality and openness:

Among the people who lived close to the border, there was a man who led a righteous life. Without reason, his horse escaped, and fled into barbarian territory. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said : “what makes you think this is not a good thing?”

Several months later, his horse returned, accompanied by a superb barbarian stallion. Everyone congratulated him. But the old man said: “what makes you think this cannot be a bad thing?”

The family was richer from a good horse, his son enjoyed riding it, but the son fell off the horse and broke his hip. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said: “what makes you think this is not a good thing!”

One year later, a large party of barbarians entered the border. All the healthy men drew their bows and went to battle. From the people living around the border, nine out of ten died. But just because his son was lame, the old man and his son were both spared.”

A different way to start that the original inspirational quote might be–”there are things we wish would go differently, but we cannot always know what is really the best path for things in our lives until we have opened our mind and given things a chance.”

The next part:

“There are things we don’t want to know, but have to learn”

I wonder if they are trying to imply that there are things we don’t want to know ABOUT? Or are they saying that, “yeah, we know you hate taking calculus–but you still have to stick it out and learn it to become an engineer”? It’s unclear, but I will assume they mean that there are times we are forced to learn about something when we’d rather be doing, or learning, something else.

Learning is always healthy, as is knowing when to let learning go and just be natural without preconception.

In Taoism, we can find a lovely paradox that describes how “unlearning” is better than learning, while reading the Tao Teh Ching which is kindly teaching us. It’s one of the more beautiful (and confusing to some) moments in the Tao Teh Ching. How, after all, can learning cloud our mind while we sit here reading a book which allowed us to come to that understanding? Because learning is neither bad nor good. It is natural and healthy–yet should never be used as a replacement for real spiritual practice.

A good example of what I mean is this:

You could read every book in the library on horseback riding. It would be enjoyable and you would indeed learn things, but there is no substitute for getting in the saddle, on the horse, with reigns in hand.

I can’t imagine there being things I don’t want to learn about, even if they seem to be “terrible” things. And, I remember Lao Tzu’s warning about residing only in books and book learning. Learn and also be in the world.

Learning is magic, after all.

Last part:

“and people we can’t live without, but have to let go.”

In Taoism, we concentrate on the center, developing our internal world, our internal sense of balance and connection. It may sound You-centric, but it does not imply superiority, simply that you are you. You have to start with you. Though we are all connected, in this physical form you can really only approach the world from your physical standpoint (which is where meditation comes in, to expand this reach). All answers are already within.

The more centered your internal universe, the easier it is to take things we THINK we can’t live without.

Letting go IS healthy. But it’s not simply because we cannot live without something and, again, must force ourselves to let go. Letting go should come naturally.

From the Tao Teh Ching:

“Things arise and [the master] lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn’t possess, acts but doesn’t expect.” (2)

Buddhism also discusses how unhealthy it is to be attached to other people, objects and places. You can be detached and loving. They are not mutually exclusive. “Detachment” is not negative, either. It is just the realistic centered-ness that comes from focusing on inner balance. You may love them, protect them, wish they could be around forever–(of course!) but you are never forced to let go of them because you never possessed them to begin with.

“The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is as open as the sky.”
(Tao Teh Ching, 12)

Of course we must endure sometimes–but it’s all about perspective.


The other blogger’s response to the quote, from a different spiritual perspective. Some of the parallels are interesting.


Palm Beach, by Ren Adams

The oil spill calls to mind this passage from the Tao Teh Ching:


Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

–Lao Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell


The Deepwater Horizon Oilspill has the potential to affect every living thing on the planet.

Ignoring the situation to focus on American Idol or soccer does not help. Turning the situation into petty politics diverts attention from solving the real problem. Saying you don’t care about it because it only “affects America” is also deflective and irresponsible (and incorrect–it affects the ocean ecosphere, which touches all of us).

If you try to follow the story in the news, the information is incomplete. It’s like an old whodunit. Notice how easily info is swept under the proverbial rug, sidelined by celebrities or deflected into heated politics.

6 million gallons (at least) are flowing into the ocean DAILY. The oil spill has been pumping columns of oil for ALMOST TWO MONTHS (today is day 78 of the spill). “Has it been that long?”

This is very real.

This is not about America vs. England as some make it out to be. That kind of thinking is narrow-minded and focused on the self. It’s not about Obama vs. whoever. Disasters don’t know illusionary borders or political parties.

Politics may be deeply involved in the reasons oil was being drilled in the first place, or behind the shoddy safety and containment system, or behind the fact that BP is still in charge of the cleanup–but the disaster has moved beyond the political forum. It’s now in an area that should concern everyone. We might ask: why is it still spilling and how many decades of post-spill damage are we in store for?

What can we, as individuals do to help–and to mindfully prevent tampering with the world in the future?

Over a month ago, when the oil spill was still in its early weeks I remember saying this was going to end up as the worst ecological disaster of modern civilization. I could feel it. Unlike the call to action for Haiti, there was little response from the community at large–though the number of compassionate and concerned souls has been steadily growing,  many sharing the same sense of helplessness. The oil spill has already been declared the worst in American history and it keeps growing.

The waves of damage are not about globs of oil ruining a tourist beach. They’re about the prolonged, protracted impact of the damage–on everything.

Everything we do has a radiating impact on everything around us. Every one, and every thing.

The initial problems from the spill are only the beginning. Waves of damage, which will continue to unfold for years after the event, will impact the fishing industry and economy, sea life, underwater biospheres and ecological culture already held in a fragile balance, wildlife, nature preserves (Louisiana indigineous swamplands, coastal ecosystems), ocean species of many varities, birds, coastal economies–and with the potential to radiante outward and affect shipping lanes, rainfall, the oil industry, the price of gasoline, the climate–you name it.

All things are connected.

And even with all of this, there are people who say they don’t care about the oil spill–that it’s funny ’cause it’s hitting America. I’ve seen a number of tweets on Twitter related to this, and it saddens me. (!!) Soccer is more important. I am always amazed by this kind of thinking and lack of awareness. This is not about America, again. It’s about a body of water that laps the shores of countless countries and continents. If they think a few retirement condos in Florida are the only things affected, they’re wrong.

What can we do to help? Awareness is important. Understanding is key. Allowing yourself to admit where you’ve been wrong and work toward a positive resolution… also important.

We’ve set something in motion–and now it will play out. If we let things go their own natural way, they unfold organically. When we try to control things–drilling, digging, blasting, we lose touch with the natural order. We’ve got to remind ourselves to find balance in everything we do.

If we need oil for the modern world, we need to learn delicacy and balance when retrieving it. If we know oil is the wrong path, we need to work harder toward a less impactful one.

We can’t dismiss disasters because they’re not in our own backyard, or because people don’t seem directly affected.

If we each do a little every day toward remembering that we are part of the flow, not the King of it, it will help lessen tampering. If you live close enough to volunteer for clean-up, give it a shot. If not, do what else you can. I’ve donated artwork for a charity that’s organizing artists for OxFam America and the National Audobon Society. Anything we can do, helps.

And to prevent future spills? Well, a lot needs to be changed. Those who know me know that I’m not an eco-nazi. I’m not even usually involved in politics or “calls to action.”

I feel strongly about this, though–that we’re tampering with the world in ways that we need to curb. Being aware of this and not hiding within the “bread and circuses” mentality, we can help in small ways (or maybe great ways, if enough of us are doing a small part).

A starting point for various articles and data:

Help the Gulf Coast – arts and crafts sold to raise funds for clean-up charity.

Daily Musings – 6/8/2010 – Go For It

There’s a Buddhist Saying –

“You are going to be afraid. It’s OK. Do it, anyway.”

Start that new project. Try that new job. Crack the spine on that intimidating book. Take that step towards your new life.

As bamboo grows resiliently, let yourself be resilient and fearless.

It grows up between the “rock and a hard place” and flourishes. So can we.

Mint, year 2

I met her in spring.

She moved into an adjoining studio at the art space we rented–her space transformed into rows of books and curios. A quirky table supported her laptop and the walls became creative collages and paintings. Ken met her first–and said, “you’ve got to meet her! You’re going to love her.” He was excited–hoping she and I would bump into each other sooner rather than later.

We instantly hit it off. She was an artist and writer–vibrant, in touch, full of energy. Gardening was one of her expressive connections to the world, having owned a nursery, and plants just seemed to leap into being at her touch. She turned the sandy yard around her adobe house into a bounty of vegetables and fruit–Moonflowers clinging to the fences and corners. A few native silver nightshade cultivated to add punctuation.

She shared seeds and mint cuttings with me the following year. They were from plants she’d cultivated herself. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, hollyhocks. The mint arrived in a glass Pepsi bottle, fluffy and bright green–ready for transport. New roots suspended in clear water. I planted everything. The seeds went from seedlings to plants, to fruit and beans–from which I again saved seeds to grow the next year. Mingled with seeds my dad had sent me, that year my garden thrived–even in the poor, alkaline, sandy soil that I had to work with.

I planted the mint at 5 locations in the yard and carefully tended it.

Mint, year 2

In mid-summer, we had a falling out. The ebb and flow of human connection. The mint seemed to suffer briefly–curling back a bit, but every time I saw them and the young plants, I thought fondly of her, and of all of the plant ancestors from which the seeds and cuttings had come. We had participated in an age-old technique, growing and sharing seeds, so that if we could pull the camera back past our present day, we could see the connections between all of the plants and seeds in our area, our state, our country, the world. A hundred seed traders, a hundred thousand plants, a hundred thousand years.

Winter came, the plants died back. The mint curled in on itself, waiting for spring. I saved seeds again.

This year, the garden is growing again. Funded now, at least partially, by second generation seeds from our original share. The mint is back in full force, bigger, bolder, healthier, more green than ever. The hollyhock seeds that she shared, while silent last year, have now popped up–rising, renewing.

And I hope to keep it going for as long as it’s willing to provide.

The roots and seeds we lay down are forever.

Planted, they grow and change–descended from the original gesture. Plant kind seeds, kindness grows.

Though we may move around and change, the roots and seeds we put down leave a trace. Seeds form such a simple, kindly gesture are now deeply rooted in the earth. After I move, the mint will still be established. The hollyhocks will still grow. The legacy is there.

The roots, underground, will return to share again.

Whoever is planted in the Tao
will not be rooted up.
Whoever embraces the Tao
will not slip away.
Her name will be held in honor
from generation to generation.

Let the Tao be present in your life
and you will become genuine.
Let it be present in your family
and your family will flourish.
Let it be present in your country
and your country will be an example
to all countries in the world.
Let it be present in the universe
and the universe will sing.

How do I know this is true?
By looking inside myself.

–from the Tao Teh Ching, Stephen Mitchell translation.

Beans, second year

Smoke Tree, Year 1, Spring 2006

The cycle of seasons is an everlasting circle.

Our ancestors observed the passages of each–relying on a natural calendar to plant, grow, harvest, and repose. Each season brings its own flora, fauna, weather, and personality. Some even compare the seasons to stages of life and growth–with spring usually seen as the young child, emerging from the death of winter.

I can usually “feel” spring well before the calendar clicks over. It sneaks in. Days are cool, but warm at the edges. There’s a subtle shift in smell–the crispness reveals an almost watery scent, like a fishing pond. The plants in my yard begin to put out leaves and buds.

Smoke Tree, Year 2, Spring 2007

In my fervor to move away from New Mexico–I pause now, wondering what might become of the trees and bushes I’ve planted and cared for while living here. Will the next family who moves in simply cut them down? I’ve seen that so many times before. Or will they also enjoy the tiny green leaf buds of my robust Smoke Tree, now over 8 feet tall (who started out the size of a pencil), or the fresh sappy perfume of the Arizona Cypress’ new growth? Maybe children will play near the Red Leaf Sand Cherry, admiring the white blossoms without having memory of the year the tree nearly died from strong, hot winds… I carefully brought it back from the brink and now it grows near the Smoke Tree, brave in the sandy soil. Every time I see the Sand Cherry, I’m reminded that the worse situations can always be put in perspective.

Two years ago, a tamarisk took root in the worst, sandiest part of our yard. Tamarisk, or Salt Cedar, are considered invasive if they get down into native areas–like along the Rio Grande or in tree preserves. However, trimmed and cared for as single specimens, they are beautiful and unafraid. The little tamarisk teased me its first year. I knew it wasn’t a weed. It had a rough, rooty stalk. It grew straight upright quickly–fearlessly. I trimmed branches to keep it from overgrowing nearby plants and watched it soar. Now, it’s well over 11 feet tall. It will outlive me, if my house’s future family doesn’t cut its life short.

Smoke Tree, Year 3, 2008

Spring brings about a fresh beginning–but it’s also like a family vacation back to the familiar personalities of nature.

What will happen to the family of trees in my yard when I’m gone? Nothing lasts forever.

My smoke tree, chronicled here with three years of photos (I will add more photos, I just need to pull out the files), grew from a tiny pencil purchased from the Arbor Day Foundation, into a tree taller than me, with a thick trunk and fluffy flowers. I had such high hopes for New Mexico. I had high hopes for my yard. I planted 10 trees and only two survived the nasty desert weather. Like my time here in New Mexico, I feel as though the trees were kicked around, struggled… and only the strongest survived.

Again, I wonder–what will happen to the smoke tree when I’m gone? What will happen to the juniper and the chaste tree? I’ll do what I can to help them grow and flourish as long as I’m here, but after that, it flows as it goes.

It’s like letting go of children, I think. At some point, I’ll have to trust them to the rest of the world. And when I let them go, it will be like another spring, starting brand new.

(I will take photos of the smoke tree tomorrow–for a 2010 update.)

Edited to add the newest photo of the Smoke Tree (6/12/2010):

Smoke Tree, May 2010

Wine Jugs, Shikishi Board by Ren Adams, 2009

Daily Musings 3/29/2010 – Don’t Let Things Own You

This is a classic, traditional Taoist tale:

Centuries ago, a decorated and famous warrior-general in the Emperor’s army retired after a long career. He had been hailed for selflessly leading his men into battle and for keeping his soldiers happy, healthy, and well-taken care of through years of hard battles. He was renknowned for being honorable, kind, and devoted and had never been afraid to die, no matter how much other solider may have feared the odds.

He retired with a nice pension and was given a home, land, and money to start “golden years” with.

Settling into his new life, he began to collect ceramics. Vases were his favorite. When he’d served his country as a warrior, he couldn’t really take a collection of large items around the countryside with him, so this new hobby became an obsession. He began buying antiques and display pieces everywhere, and whenever he could.

He collected fragile, beautiful antique vases and his collection began to grow. He paid high prices for them and set them proudly on display in his home. He often took them down to admire his purchases and he showed them to any guest who came over.

One day, while admiring an expensive new acquisition, he sat turning the vase over and over in his hands. How beautiful and rare it was! How expensive it had been! He was so proud to own it and to have it in his prized collection!

As he turned the vase and admired its valuable surface, his fingers suddenly slipped. In an instant, his prized, expensive possession began to spin away from him–through the air. He panicked. He lunged for the vase and his blood pressure went sky high. He barely caught it before it hit the ground and he sat there, holding it, seized in mortal terror. He felt fear and desperation throughout his entire body. His vase had almost shattered!

He sat back down, stunned. For decades he had fought fearlessly, never once thinking of himself. Always living life to the fullest and striving to be an honest person–without worry or greed. Without fear. Without trepidation.

Yet suddenly, here as a retired soldier–perfectly safe in his own private home, he felt sheer terror. He had never felt it on the battlefield but he was now alone and mortally afraid. He had felt so sick, frightened and terrified that his prized vase might break, that he felt he had almost died from the intense panic and despair.

After a moment of silence, he slowly sat back and smiled. He looked at the vase again. Had he become so attached to owning these prized possessions that they filled him with fear and mortal terror?

As he gazed at the priceless antique, he opened his hands. The vase fell to the floor and shattered.

Ever known someone who wouldn’t let you sit on the furniture, but made you plant your butt on a plastic slip cover instead? The couch would last a hundred years, delicately protected–but no one would have enjoyed it. Ever known someone who hoarded their collection of widgets and would have a panic attack if one was moved slightly out of place? They’d die if the widgets were stolen, crushed, or lost. You know who I’m talking about.

Some of you may even be attached to things with a level of ferocity. Cars, electronics, wardrobes. I understand. I’ve been there.

And I think the story speaks for itself.

I used to be neurotic about my books. I would keep them in closed book cases, super clean. I would dust them and keep them smelling fresh and nice, make sure there was no damage to the covers, no creases on the spines. I know, kinda OCD. A lot of people get this way with books and I’ve met a few who do the “turn the page, wash your hands,” thing.

I suppose it’s partly about treasuring the value of their contents–while losing sight of the fact that a torn cover or stale pages doesn’t mark the end of life as we know it, or the end of usefulness for the book.

I wouldn’t lend them to anyone, for fear of how they might be mistreated or damaged. To make a long story short, I realized one day that it was all just silly. It just clicked with me–I think after reading about an apartment fire nearby. If there were a fire or flood–something truly momentous or serious, the books would be destroyed. And, in that instant of evacuating something truly dangerous and serious (not the perceived seriousness of french fry grease or grubby kids), what would I grab? The cats. Living things. Not my prized, hermetically sealed collection of replaceable books.

Replaceable. Not as important as the living things around me. Replaceable. That was key. And even for rare books, signed books–maybe not so easily replaceable, but still not important for daily life and existence.

We are not what we own.

A weight was lifted off me. It was an instant cure for a semi-OCD thing that had been going on through college. I lent books out, lost some when they weren’t returned. I eagerly bought used books, damaged books, beat-up books. Collecting and enjoying, but staying respectfully detached.

I merrily read while eating, heaped them in piles on the floor, tossed and traded them. Still treasuring the inside, but remembering that they are vehicles of knowledge and should be respected–not psychotically hoarded.

After the first break-in at our house last year, I was glad to find that my priorities lay in making sure my fellow living things were alive and well–I didn’t even realize things had been stolen for several hours (or care). The things that were stolen? Inconvenient. Mysterious. Slightly maddening in afterthought, but nothing compared to the joy of knowing living things were safe.

It’s OK to collect things and to enjoy the little things that make life fun. Just don’t get so attached to them that they fill your life with terror. Don’t ever let it get that far. If you become so attached to a car that the thought of it getting into an accident fills you with horror–step back a bit. Nothing is permanent and all things will come and go at some point. Even your grandma’s perfect couch.

My Tao and Zen students know how I often draw parallels from the Tao to Fight Club. You’ll enjoy this one. 🙂

It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything. –Tyler Durden, Fight Club

If you want to be given everything, you must first give everything up. –Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching

A list of Taoist articles and Daily Musings published on my main blog can be found here:

and here:

Feeding Fish, Botanical Gardens, Best Day in Albuquerque, Ever

Back from the Dead Zombie Show - The Last Show I Helped Coordinate at the Factory

Pants, Looking out the Door the Thieves Would Later Destroy

The photos in this post were taken by our now-gone Fuji Finepix s6000 camera.

Early this December, our home was broken into. Happens to millions of people. Happened to us, here in Albuquerque, though we’ve lived in rougher, nastier places. We are so grateful none of our kitties got outside to be killed in the street or the desert–and that none of them were hurt during the robbery. So grateful. So lucky.

Our little camera was not so lucky. At the time, we didn’t care about it being stolen. Still don’t, in comparison to the lives of creatures that depend on us. Now, however, seeing the empty camera bag, I spiral into philosophy. Maybe silliness and nostalgia. The reality of change. Knowing it could have been much worse, but still feeling a sting from losing something we relied on for business, fun, family. The fact that someone else decided to take the camera from us, without our permission, removing our own choice to give it away, smash it, sell it, or save it, forever, sits in the back of my mind. I suppose it does with anyone who’s had something stolen, even when we know material things don’t matter.

We saved up for our camera. Researched it. Planned it. Put money away a little at a time to afford what was then a huge purchase–a $400 camera, outside of our budget, but which would work well for photographing our artwork, sculpture and jewelry. Part of our livelihood. Replacing a little 4 megapixel Olympus we’d used for years.

We photographed artwork, kittens, shows, events, each other. The last photo of Loki was snapped with it, before he died. It was with us on some of our best days, and some of our worst days.

It was trusty. Nothing fancy. Good photos, hard working. I wonder how excited the thieves were when they discovered it. They cast away the camera bag and took it bare, I imagine leaping through the shattered sliding glass door to freedom with it. It looked more impressive and expensive than it was, and at most they might’ve gotten $20.00 for it, pawned. I wonder what it looked like when they found it, maybe cheering, taking it, running. Wondering if they tried to use it to photograph their own families, themselves, each other. Because even the thieves will go home to moms, dads, wives, brothers, children, friends. This Christmas, are they giving it as a gift to someone? Wondering if they kept it to use it, or immediately trekked to re-sell it (the most likely course).

Was it offered to a pawnbroker, who then turned it over in his hands, considering its value? Was it shucked in a Walgreen’s parking lot, along with jewelry and other oddities culled from other families’ homes?

I have come to the conclusion the camera was no longer meant to be ours. What if it was given to one of the theives’ family members, say a grandma on a fixed income, who can now use it to snap photos of her grandchildren? Now she has a camera, however ill-gotten, that is hers.

What if it ended up at a pawn shop, where a budding photographer will find it–a good camera at an obscenely low price. They will eagerly buy it, practicing shots with it every day. Building their portfolio with it, their experiences, their career. Had it never been removed from us, it might not have ever made its way into their hands, where it now blooms.

How do we know the loss of the camera was not a good thing?

I only wish the damned square for the tripod wasn’t still attached to the bottom of it.

There is a Taoist tale from the Lieh-Tzu about a man who loses and gains different things.

Among the people who lived close to the border, there was a man who led a righteous life. Without reason, his horse escaped, and fled into barbarian territory. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said : “what makes you think this is not a good thing?”

Several months later, his horse returned, accompanied by a superb barbarian stallion. Everyone congratulated him. But the old man said: “what makes you think this is cannot be a bad thing?”

The family was richer from a good horse, his son enjoyed riding it. He fell and broke his hip. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said: “what makes you think this is not a good thing!”

One year later, a large party of barbarians entered the border. All the valid men drew their bows and went to battle. From the people living around the border, nine out of ten died. But just because he was lame, the old man and his son were both spared.