This is one of my favorite stories. It teaches us the importance of cultivating equanimity in the face of life’s ups and downs, to find a calmness within ourselves. Being able to be “non-reactive” to the negative aspects of life will help us remain calm, balanced and experience the inner joy. As Swami Satchidanda often said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!”
Here is the old story of a farmer and his horse:
A farmer’s most valuable asset is the one horse he owns. One day it runs away. All the townspeople commiserate with him, “Oh, what terrible luck! You’ve fallen into poverty now, with no way to pull the plow or move your goods!” The farmer merely responds, “I don’t know if it’s unfortunate or not; all I know is that my horse is gone.”
A few days later, the horse returns, and following it are six more horses, both stallions and mares. The townspeople say “Oh! You’ve struck it rich! Now you have seven horses to your name!” Again, the farmer says, “I don’t know if I’m fortunate or not: all that I can say is that I now have seven horses in my stable.”
A few days later, while the farmer’s son is trying to break in one of the wild stallions, he’s thrown from the horse and breaks his leg and shoulder. All the townspeople bemoan his fate: “Oh, how terrible! Your son has been so badly injured, he’ll not be able to help you with the harvest. What a misfortune!” The farmer responds, “I don’t know if it’s a misfortune or not: what I know is that my son has been injured.”
Less that a week later, the army sweeps through town, conscripting all the young men to fight in a war…all except for the farmer’s son, who is unable to fight because of his injury.
We never know what life brings us and what those final consequences will be of each of those highs and lows in life. But wouldn’t it be nice to learn to surf those waves? To stay balanced and smooth instead of constantly reacting to those ups and downs? That is what “living in equanimity” will bring us – the ability to accept life’s mysteries and the uncontrollable nature of things for what they are and to learn that the only thing we can control is our own reaction to them.
~ Excerpts taken from a Yoga Journal article “Calm Within” by Frank Jude Boccio