Judgment: A Laozi (Lao Tzu) Parable

In Cộng Đồng on 2009/09/11 at 14:24

Note: There have been incidents to be briefly narrated and shared here this week. These “fragmented” incidents full of judgments happened here-and-there. More than a few times, my husband was inquired tactfully regarding a rumor that I have been back and forth to Vietnam for work. Or when we expressed our thoughts and feelings, we did not received any understanding or compassion but a quick response started with “Don’t do that because you would not make it!”

The most recent incident was related to our rebuttal printed on the International Examiner on September 2nd, 2009. One individual of the Vietnamese Learning & Teaching Organizing Committee of Seattle and a Board member of Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA) sent a message to the Vietnamese internet discussion groups ( slandering us as “falsifying their names”. We found out unexpectedly such non-transparent dubious and tortuous act through a discussion group member. It occurred after we sent a general message to many community groups (including this group) inviting people to read our letter—a piece full of concerns toward the Vietnamese American younger generation growing up in America–to the International Examiner. Until today this individual has not responded to our reply letter regarding this non-transparent dubious and tortuous act. Some particular group discussions that posted this individual’s message refused to print our reply letter.

Another event coincided with the above warmed our heart when we heard an interesting parable. Our very dear physical therapist who has been mindfully applying meditative acts in life shared with us this story in spite of not knowing about the above judgmental incidents.

We in fact heard about this story when we were still in Vietnam. Its moral meaning was a focus on the immeasurable misfortune versus blessing phenomenon matched with the Vietnamese/Eastern philosophy of living. This interesting parable narrated this time is through a different lens—the lens of “judgment”. We re-printed and translated this piece into Vietnamese to help you as well as ourselves to ponder on fragment, judgment, goal, and journey.

To us, the individuals who had “judged” our acts only need to ground themselves and state them simply as the following:

“Quynh-Tram has not seen lately at the Vietnamese Senior Club.”

“VietSoul:21 just published a rebuttal on the International Examiner.”

“We were invited to read a blog piece at VietSoul:21 or “Hồn Việt Thế Kỷ 21.”

If these judgmental individuals had chosen to express as such, more than two involved parties would have not faced their heart-felt disappointment in order to grow and connect with each other.

Judgment: A Laozi (Lao Tzu) Parable

Judgment means a state of mind. And mind always wants judgment, because to be in process is always hazardous and uncomfortable. Be very, very courageous. Don’t stop growing; live in the moment, simple stay in the flow of life.

This story happened in the days of Lao Tzu in China, and Lao Tzu loved it very much.

There was an old man in a village, very poor, but even kings were jealous of him because he had a beautiful white horse… Kings offered fabulous prices for the horse, but the man would say, “This horse is not a horse to me, he is a person. And how can you sell a person, a friend?” The man was poor, but he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable, the whole village gathered and they said, “You foolish old man! We knew that someday the horse would be stolen. It would have been better to sell it. What a misfortune.”

The old man said, “Don’t go so far as to say that. Simply say that the horse is not in the stable. This is the fact; everything else is a judgment. Whether is a misfortune or a blessing I don’t know, because this is just a fragment. Who knows what is going to follow it?”

People laughed at the old man. They had always known that he was a little crazy. But after fifteen days, suddenly one night the horse returned. He had not been stolen; he had escaped into the wild. And not only that, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him.

Again the people gathered and they said, “Old man, you were right. This was not a misfortune; it has indeed proved to be a blessing.”

The old man said, “Again you are going too far. Just say that the horse is back…who knows whether it is a blessing or not? It is only a fragment. You read a single word in a sentence and–how can you judge the whole book?”

This time the people could not say much, but inside they knew that he was wrong. Twelve beautiful horses had come…

The old man had an only son who started to train the wild horses. Just a week later he fell from a horst and his legs were broken. The people gathered again and again they judged. They said, “Again you proved right! It was a misfortune. Your only son had lost the use of his legs, and in your old age he was your only support. Now you are poorer than ever.”

The old man said, “You are obsessed with judgment. Don’t go that far. Say only that my son has broken his legs. Nobody knows whether this is a misfortune or a blessing. Life comes in fragments and more is never given to you.”

It happened that after a few weeks the country went to war, and all the young men of the town were forcibly taken for the military. Only the old man’s son was left, because he was crippled. The whole town was crying and weeping, because it was losing fight and they said, “You were right, old man—this has proved a blessing. Maybe your son is crippled, but he is still with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man said, “You go on and on judging. Nobody knows! Only say this, that your sons have been forced to enter into the army and my son has not been forced. But only God, the total, knows whether it is a blessing or a misfortune.”

Judge ye not, otherwise you will never become one with the total. With fragments you will be obsessed, with small things you will jump to conclusions. Once you have judged, you will stop growing. Judgment means a state of mind. And mind always wants judgment, because to be in process is always hazardous and uncomfortable.

In fact, the journey never ends. One path ends, another begins. One door closes, another opens. You reach a peak: a higher peak is always there. God is an endless journey. Only those who are so courageous that they don’t bother about the goal but are content with the journey, content just to live the moment and grow into it, only those are able to walk with the total.

Vietnamese Version

Other parables:

Tale of Five Friends and Five Enemies

The Parable of the Downstreamers

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