‘The Chinese Farmer’- Inspiring Story by Alan Watts

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”  ― Alan W. Watts, The Culture of Counter-Culture: Edited Transcripts

I absolutely love the above quote by Alan Watts  (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) who was a British philosopher, a writer, a speaker and a teacher. Like many others, i too am inspired by Alan’s magical and wakening teachings about the simple realities of life.


Alan Watts-  Source: Wikipedia

I recently listened to one of his beautiful and inspiring short audio narratives, about a certain ‘Chinese Farmer,’ who chose to see the positive side of things even in negative situations.

On a certain day, one of the Chinese farmer’s horses escaped. That evening, all the neighbors came around and said to him “That’s too bad!” And he said, “Maybe.”

The next day the horse came back, and brought seven wild horses with it. And all the neighbors came around and said, “Well that’s great. Isn’t it?” And he said, “Maybe.”

The next day, as his son was attempting to tame one of his horses and was riding it, he fell down and broke his leg. The neighbors came again in the evening and said, “Well that’s too bad. Isn’t it?” and he said, “Maybe.”

The next day the conscription officers came around to recruit people into the army but they rejected his son because he had a broken leg.  All the people came around and said, “That’s great.” and he said, “Maybe.”



The moral of the story as the philosopher tells it is that- “The whole process of nature is a process of immense complexity and it is really impossible to tell whether something that happens in it is good or bad. Because you never know the consequences of the misfortune. Or, you never know the consequences of good fortune.” ~ Alan Watts.


You can learn more about the British Philosopher on Alanwatts.org

Video Source: the Sustainable Human project 




  1. Bonsai

    I believe in the same moral so why worry?

    1. reyherb



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