Is anyone aware of the story of a Chinese farmer (A Taoist parable) who keeps saying "maybe" to every event (Good or bad) that happens to him because we don't know the consequences of those events in the future. My question is does that mean we can't celebrate when something good happens and we can't feel sad when something bad happens because we don't know where those events will lead us to in the future? Should we NOT react to anything? Isn't that kind of a Robotic way to live life?

  • It is no very clear what sort of answer you are looking for. A version of the parable is known through a 13th century Japanese poet, Watts did put his spin on it. I do not think we can answer the last question: what is robotic to one is enlightened to another. The idea of liberation from desires (and emotions they cause) as a way to enlightenment is common to Oriental teachings. Buddha's four noble truths are similar: desires lead to suffering, to end the suffering one needs to end the desires. Stoics also advocate emotional self-restraint.
    – Conifold
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 6:47
  • I'm not very good at expressing my thoughts into words. Sorry if I was not clear. Let's say I get my dream job. While going to the job I get hit by a bus and die. A good thing (dream job) eventually led me to a bad thing (hit by bus and die). Now if something good happens I'll keep wondering what if it leads to a bad thing. So I can't enjoy the present moment. Is there a way to enjoy the moment without being anxious about the future? And thank you for taking the time to respond.
    – RicharHit
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 8:54
  • There are many similar stories. It ain't over 'till the fat lady sings. This dispassionate approach leads to equinimity and stability and is a way of avoiding robotic (conditioned) behaviour and reactions.
    – user20253
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 11:36
  • 1
    Maybe. (seemed fitting)
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 4:13

1 Answer 1


It's quite the other way round.

Our habitual reactions are mechanical ie "robotic" and contribute a background din which actually dilutes and degrades the freshness of the experience

I take the farmer to be (represent) an enlightened being speaking to unenlightened folk. His laconic responses invite the others to a wider perspective

The deeper point of such stories is that we assume – without examination – that we are one when in fact we are fragmented. Intentionally making ourselves dual observer and observed is the (a) way out of robotic reactiveness to real unity

The Vedas often symbolically talk about our higher and lower self as two birds in one tree.

Amal Kiran's poetrized account

A small bird crimson-hue
      Among great realms of green
Fed on their multitudinous fruit—
      But in his dark eye flamed more keen

A hunger as from joy to joy
      He moved the poignance of his beak,
And ever in his heart he wailed,
      “Where hangs the marvelous fruit I seek?”

Then suddenly above his head
      A searching gaze of grief he turned:
Lo, there upon topmost bough
      A pride of golden plumage burned!

Lost in a dream no hunger broke,
      This calm bird—aureoled, immense—
Sat motionless: all fruit he found
      Within his own magnificence.

The watchful ravenor below
      Felt his time-tortured passion cease,
And flying upward knew himself
      One with that bird of golden peace.

  • 1
    Thank you so much for taking the time to give your perspective. I tried to upvote but it says I should have 15 reputation to upvote an answer publicly.
    – RicharHit
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 8:57
  • 2
    @Richarhit The upvote (system) is robotic and ultimately makes us more mechanical. The comment alive. I much prefer the second! 👍
    – Rushi
    Commented Aug 10, 2019 at 11:23

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