Friday, March 6, 2009

Bad Economy...May Be...May Be Not

Last weekend I was checking my 401K and was shock to realize how much my wife and I have lost during this market downward spiral. Then a friend said to me that while he was worrying about his retirement, he learned that an astroid almost hit the earth. I looked at him and said, well if not the bad market, then the astroid, or else the earthquake. How finite we are. I mentioned this to my students and we all agreed, there is something about our finiteness that becomes meaningful only in relation to that which is infinite. So I'm reminded of Lao Tzu and the concept of li...while we sit down doing nothing, the sun shines, the plant grows, the water flows. Thinking about the economy in the light of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu's perspective is rather comforting and reminds me of one of my favorite stories.

A farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to comfort over his terrible loss. The farmer replied, "Maybe, may be not." A month later, the horse came home bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors came to congratulate for his good fortune. "Such lovely strong horses!" The farmer replied, "May be. May be not." The farmer's son was thrown from a horse and broke his leg. All the neighbors came to console. Such bad luck! The farmer replied, "May be. May be not." A war broke out and every able-bodied was recruited except the farmer's son because of his broken leg. The neighbors came to congratulate the farmer. "May be. May be not?" replied the farmer.