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The challenges of life: Blessing or Curse?

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

I posted this quote this week on facebook:

Two of my friends said, "If it's a blessing, don't you have to take it as a challenge anymore? This was my answer.

First, Carlos Castaneda is a controversial author who has written a dozen books on shamanism. One of the themes of his books is about the warrior, more precisely the "warrior of knowledge". He distinguishes between the warrior who has acquired knowledge and the "ordinary man" who lacks this knowledge.

On the "challenge", Carlos Castaneda wrote: "Only as a warrior can one endure the path of knowledge. A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is a never-ending challenge, and challenges cannot be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges."

According to this quote, the ordinary man is caught in the yin-yang polarity, he thinks that what is negative is "negative" and what is positive is "positive". It does not occur to him that what is negative can be positive and what is positive can be negative (like the Tai Ji symbol of yin yang where we see black in white and vice versa). This is why the Warrior of Knowledge goes beyond this "illusion".

To answer your question, I will tell you this old Chinese story of Taoism.

In a village, a very poor man had only one horse. One day, his horse disappeared. The people of the village said to him: "This is terrible, what a curse! You only had one horse. Surely someone stolen it from you." The poor but very wise man replied, "I don't know if it's right or wrong. That's life."

Fifteen days later, the horse that had not been stolen after all, but had escaped, returned with a dozen wild horses. The people of the village said to him: "You were right, old man, we were wrong to speak of a curse. In reality, it was a blessing. The wise man replied, "Don't judge again! Who knows if it is a blessing or not?

The old man had an only son. While training the wild horses, he broke both his legs. The villagers came back again and could not help but judge. "You were right, it was not a blessing, but a curse! Your only son has both legs broken!" The old man said, "You judge only by appearances! My son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a curse or not.

A few weeks later, the country went to war. All the young people were sent to the front except the old man's son. The whole village cried and said to the old man. "You were right. Your son may have broken his legs, but he stayed with you... our sons are gone forever! The old man replied, "I don't know if it's a blessing or not, we'll see.

- Gaëtan Sauvé

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