Understanding Life

Yin Yang

Many people who have experienced being arrested, ending up in a treatment center, or discovering that they are addicts, feel that what they have gone through is horrible and tragic. They often believe that they are unfortunate and unlucky. This view is not completely accurate. In fact, it should be considered narrow-minded and sophomoric.

A wise Buddhist man named Mr. Chan lived in ancient China. He was highly respected and considered the most intelligent man in the province. One day a poor family arranged a small party to celebrate their son’s eighteenth birthday. The family had saved for years and bought him the finest horse in the village.

All the villagers cheered and gathered around the young man as he rode his horse through town. Then the villagers noticed that Mr. Chan was not cheering. He looked sullen and was very quiet. A villager asked Mr. Chan, “Why are you not cheering and happy? This young man has a beautiful new horse. This is clearly a cause for celebration.” Mr. Chan looked up and said, “We shall see.”

Several days later the young man was thrown from the horse and severely broke his leg. The villagers gathered at the young man’s house and brought food and offered their prayers. Many of the women cried together and were worried he may never walk again. Then they noticed Mr. Chan. He looked untroubled and was quiet. A villager asked Mr. Chan, “Why are you not upset and troubled by what has happened? This young man cannot walk. He is badly injured. This is clearly a very bad thing.” Mr. Chan looked up and said, “We shall see.”

Several weeks later the Emperor declared war on the Mongol invaders. He had soldiers go into every village to conscript the young men into military service. Families cried as all the healthy young men went off to war. The village lost every young man except the one with the broken leg. He was spared and stayed home with his family. Within a year, all the men who had left the village had been killed. At the end of the year, the young man with the broken leg was now healed and able to walk. In addition, he became the Chief of the village.

At the ceremony appointing the young man Chief, the villagers looked intently at Mr. Chan. One elderly woman said, “The young man has been spared. What appeared to be a bad thing was actually a good thing!” Mr. Chan looked up expressionless and said, “We shall see.”

The truth is you have no idea what an arrest has prevented you from doing or experiencing. You have no idea what types of consequences are being avoided while you are in treatment. Very often, what seems to be bad for you is meant to be good for you. Wisdom allows you to stand back and wait for time to do its job. Please try to be more sophisticated in how you view the trials and tribulations of life. Very often things do happen for a reason.

You don’t know what suffering is being averted by your current hardship.