Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Judging others or even circumstances is risky business. Let’s take circumstances, first. Judging events as positive or negative, correct or incorrect or good or bad is foolishness. First, that assumes we have absolutely perfect vision of the future – to know what the future effects of this event are. And, perfect vision behind is equally futile - to accurately assess the sum total of everything that went before and which led to this event. No human is that good. That’s why, this story is one of my favorites.
The story was originally told by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character in Charlie Wilson’s War about a young boy somewhere in a distant village and a Zen master. The boy had just been given a horse and all the villagers were excited and cheered about how wonderful that was. But, the Zen master simply said, said,
Then, the boy fell off the horse and broke his leg in multiple places. The villagers thought how horrible that was, again the Zen master said,
Not long after, a war broke out and all the boys in the village were called to serve, except for the boy with the messed-up leg. At this point the villagers cried once again:
The Zen master said …..
The perfect example of how one situation feeds into another and another and another. Two incidents in my own life prove that trying to judge anyone or any incident is a waste of energy. The most recent one, first.
I was involved in an accident with my Jaguar. The car was 9-years old and was beginning to breakdown but I still liked it very much. The repairs were proving costly, still I hung on. At the time, I was driving slowly, 30-mph, but I ran a red light (the first accident I had ever been involved in where it was my fault). I hit the car turning left. I got out of the car and talked to the other driver. We were both just fine. I was shocked but grateful. I stayed composed, almost removed from a situation that thirty-years before would have left me rattled and upset. Since my car had to be towed, my son picked me up and took me home. I knew there had to be a reason for that accident – although I didn’t know what it was at the time. My car was declared "totaled" and the insurance check ended up being much more than I ever would have received on a regular trade. That accident made it possible for me to purchase a different, more affordable car – but a little nicer one. It seems I hadn’t made the choice to rid myself of the expensive car quickly enough and move into something I could afford. So, I was helped.
Another time, many years previously, I had a storage unit in Phoenix that I had kept for over twenty-years. It held boxes of company accounting records (way before computers), boxes of awards and trophies, bits of office furniture and some personal items I had tucked away, as well. Actually, the furniture included a beautiful 8-panel Coromandel Chinese screen, a large partner’s desk and credenza, made of fabulous antique burlwood from Europe, a small bookcase and a few other odds and ends. Well, one Saturday when I arrived to access my unit, I noticed my lock had been replaced and there was caution tape over it. When I asked at the office they told me someone had broken into my unit – days before. Odd since no one from the storage company called me and even more odd that the thieves only took the front items, like they were unloading the entire unit – not cherry-picking the good from the bad. These “thieves” took the desk not credenza, boxes of my awards over the years, and enough other things to total about $16,000. Thank goodness for insurance.
What I later assessed to have happened is another customer had been delinquent in their payments and the manager sent the movers to unit D-24 to clean it out. Unfortunately, they went to B-24, that was my number. Tough to prove but thieves wouldn’t have taken what was removed. Yes, I was upset but being upset did no good. I turned in the claim, received my check and it was that $16,000 that allowed me to publish my first book, develop my first professional website and fund a new business effort, which I otherwise would never have been able to afford. I have never since had room for that gigantic desk and credenza. So, what some may have seen as a horrible event turned out to be a blessing.
Everything always happens for a reason – we just don’t know the reason at the time. So judging good versus bad makes no sense at all. And overreacting to the incident is a total waste of energy.
Even when losing a friend or loved one, we have no idea what the reason was for that person's passing. Was it to teach a lesson? Fund something for a relative? Maybe just to end a painful karmic experience. As tough as judging circumstances are - it is equally tricky to make jusgments on another person's life or path. In fact, judging any other human is next-to impossible. We are here to accept, observe and move on. A lesson for us that will teach us something and will deliver to us much more peace.