There was once a Chinese farmer who lost a horse. It had run away while he was tending to his field. Later that evening, the locals gathered and consoled him, “That’s too bad,” they said.
He replied “Maybe.”
The next day the horse came back. And brought seven wild horses with it. All of the neighbors gathered around and said “Why that’s just great, isn’t it?”
The farmer said “Maybe.”
The next day, the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of these horses and was riding one when he was thrown off and shattered his leg. It seemed like he might never walk again. All of the neighbors came by in the evening and said, “That’s too bad. Isn’t it?”
The farmer replied “Maybe.”
The following day conscription officers arrived in the village looking for new soldiers for the Chinese army. The officers rejected the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. The neighbors came around in the evening and said “Isn’t that wonderful?”
The farmer said “Maybe, I do not know what the future may hold.”
The whole process of nature, is an integrated process of immense complexity. And it is truly impossible to tell if anything that happens in it is either good or bad. Because you will never know what will be the consequences of the misfortune. Or you will never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.
This is the parable of the Chinese Farmer, as told by Alan Watts.