One of my mentors was a guy named Chuck Chamberlain, and Chuck used to tell the story of sitting in a certian chair in his house after a long drunk and thinking about his life. He recalled how he was married to this woman, he was working at this place, and he felt like he was in hell and he was dying. Years later, he sat in the same chair, in the same house, married to the same woman, working at the same place, and had tears in his eyes, because he felt like he was in heaven. He asked himself, “What changed?” He said, “Maybe heaven is just a new pair of glasses.” This is this will sound crazy, especially if you’re sitting here and you’re in the middle of a lot of emotional pain. I will tell you something from my experience you’re probably not going to believe. There is no pain in my life except my resistance to accept life on life’s terms. The problem is me, my judgement, and my perception of things. There is always a little voice in my head is saying, “Such and such is happening, oh this is awful!” Well maybe it is awful, and maybe it isn’t. Maybe it is not so bad and that’s just my judgment of it.
The Buddhists have a story about the wisdom to know that you’ll never know. It’s about this little old Chinese farmer who is very poor. He doesn’t own anything except a horse, and it’s his only possession. He is allowed to live on a meager piece of ground in a hut and work the fields that are owned by a Lord of the land. He has to give a portion of his crop for the right to live there and work the soil. It is only him and his son, and they work the fields day in and day out. One day, his only horse, his only possession, suddenly runs off. The farmer’s friends and family come running over to his hut to console him to tell him how terrible this is. They say, “You’ve lost your whole estate! This is awful! This is bad.” The little old man to shrugs his shoulders says, “I don’t know, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.” And they think he is nuts.
A couple of days later, the horse returns triumphantly, running through the farm, leading an entire herd of wild horses. Now the farmer’s friends and neighbors come running over to congratulate him, they say, “You are the richest man in the valley! This is wonderful! This is great!” The farmer says like he did before, “I don’t know, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.” They look at him again like he’s nuts. Then, a couple of days later, his only son is trying to break in one of the wild horses and he is suddenly thrown to the ground and injured horribly. Now his son can’t walk, and he can’t work. The farmer’s neighbors and friends come rushing over to console him and to tell him how terrible this is, that his only son is now handicapped. They say, “This is terrible!” The little old man shrugs his shoulders and says again, “I don’t know if it’s terrible; maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.” They think, “My God, this is your only son and now he is handicapped, you don’t think this is bad?” Well, about a week later the Chinese army came through the valley and forced all the able bodied young men to go and fight in a battle where none of them would survive; the army couldn’t take the farmer’s son because of his injury from the wild horse and his life was saved. See the little old man knew the most important thing he could ever know, that he doesn’t know.