Judging others or even circumstances is a useless exercise since we're rarely correct and expend needless energy in the process. Let’s take circumstances, as the first example of what I mean. Judging events as positive or negative, correct or incorrect or good or bad is making an assessment without all the facts; we never have all the facts. First, we have to assume we'd have absolutely perfect vision of the future and the effects this event will have going forward. And, in retrospect is an equally futile exercise since being spot-on in this case requires us to accurately assess the sum total of everything that came before in terms of setting the stage for this single event. No human is that good. That’s why, this story is particularly relevant and is one of my favorites.
The tale was originally told by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character in Charlie Wilson’s War. It's about a young boy and a Zen master who lived somewhere in a distant village - likely in Tibet. The boy had just been given a horse and all the villagers were so excited about the event and cheered how wonderful that this gift was. But, the Zen master simply said, said,
Sometime later, when the boy fell off the horse and broke his leg in multiple places, the villagers cried how horrible that event was, but the Zen master, again said,
Finally, not long after the accident, a war broke out and all the boys in the village were called up to serve - except, of course, the boy with the messed-up leg. At this point the villagers were joyful once again saying how wonderful this was.
The Zen master said …..
This story is the perfect example of how one situation can later effect another and another and another. Two incidents in my own life prove that making an absolute, emotional judgment about almost any event - is a waste of energy. The most recent one, first.
I was involved in an automobile accident with my Jaguar. The car was 9-years old, at the time, and was beginning to breakdown but I still adored the car. The repairs were proving costly, but still I hung on. Finally, I was driving slowly one evening heading home at 30-mph, but I ran a red light. I hit the car turning left - the first accident that was ever my fault. I got out of the car and checked with the other driver; we were both fine. I was shocked at what happened but grateful. throughout, 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" by the insurance company and the check they issued was much more than I'd have received for this car with a trade. That accident made it possible for me to purchase a different, more affordable car – one with lots of upgrades.
It appears, I hadn't made the choice to rid myself of the the older car, which was beginning to cost me a lot to maintain quickly enough so, I was given a bit of a nudge.
One other time, many years before, I had a storage unit in Phoenix that I had rented for over twenty-years. That unit held boxes of my company's 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 antique 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 the lock had been replaced and there was caution tape over it. When I asked at the office why, they told me someone had broken into my unit days before. That was odd since no one from the storage company called me to even report the incident and even more odd that the thieves only took the items in the front, instead of cherry-picking the nicer ones. It seemed, instead, like the "thieves" were unloading the entire unit – from front to back but stopped about half of the way in. These “thieves” took the desk not credenza, boxes of my awards over the years, and enough other things to total about $16,000. I was initially sad but moved on, grateful I had insurance.
After the police report and paperwork was complete, and in retrospect, what appeared 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, which was my number. Tough to prove but thieves wouldn’t have taken many of the items removed and wouldn't have left the ones they did. After I turned in my claim and received the $16,000 check that money allowed me to publish my first book, develop my first professional website and lay the groundwork for a new business effort, which I otherwise would never have been able to afford. And, as beautiful as that massive desk and credenza were - my subsequent two homes had no room for it, so really I didn't need it at all. It all ended up being a blessing.
Everything always happens for a reason; we just don’t know the reason at the time. So judging good versus bad when an incident happens makes little sense and overreacting to any such incident is a total waste of energy. The better thing to do is take a deep breath and wait a while to see what happens. The reason will become perfectly clear with time.
Even when we lose a friend or loved one, it's impossible to know why they had to leave. Was it to teach a lesson? Be the catalyst for money to flow to a relative? Maybe just to end a painful karmic experience. Sometimes we gain clarity on such painful events but in most instances, we never do.
That is why I rarely make a judgment about a circumstance or about another person's life or path. In fact, judging any other human is next-to impossible. We have no idea of what they are going through emotionally, mentally or spiritually - all which influence behavior and who'se to say, given the same circumstances, we'd do anything different?
Instead, we're here to accept, observe, have faith and move on. If we can learn this one, powerful lesson, we'll all live more peaceful lives.