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16 July 2008 @ 08:07 am
Tao of the Day  
An old man and his son lived in an abandoned fortress on the side of a hill. Their only possession of value was a horse.

One day, the horse ran away. The neighbors came by to offer sympathy. "That's really bad!" they said. "How do you know?" asked the old man.

The next day, the horse returned, bringing with it several wild horses. The old man and his son shut them all inside the gate. The neighbors hurried over. "That's really good!" they said. "How do you know?" asked the old man.

The following day, the son tried riding one of the wild horses, fell off, and broke his leg. The neighbors came around as soon as they heard the news. "That's really bad!" they said. "How do you know?" asked the old man.

The day after that, the army came through, forcing the local young men into service to fight a faraway battle against the northern barbarians. Many of them would never return. But the son couldn't go, because he'd broken his leg.

- Liu An (a.k.a. Huai-nan-tse), trans. Benjamin Hoff

This translation can be found in The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. I tried reading The Tao of Pooh a few years ago. I just finished this one, and liked it much better. There's a decent section to skim in the middle, but the beginning and the end are both wonderful and well worth the read.

Benjamin Hoff graduated from Evergreen in Oregon in 1973. He is no longer publishing.
bitterfun on July 16th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
It's been a long while since I read the Te of Piglet & Tao of Pooh. I'm going to have to dig them back up and review. Fortunately this is an easy task as I just did a late, late spring cleaning of my library and will be repurposing/donating/selling half my books.
Hanaka: clapstillbourne on July 16th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
This is one of my favorites