There’s an old Chinese story about a farmer.

One night, one of his horses runs away from the farm.

The neighbours sympathise with his bad luck.

The farmer says “Good or bad, hard to say”.

A few days later the horse comes back leading a herd of wild horses.

The neighbours comment on how lucky this is.

The farmer just says “Good or bad, hard to say”.

The farmer’s son picks the finest horse out of the herd to break in.

But the horse throws him off and the son breaks his leg.

The neighbours shake their heads in sorrow at the bad news.

The farmer says “Good or bad, hard to say”.

Later, the army come past, there is a war and they are looking for recruits.

When they see the famer’s son’s leg is broken they realise he is no use to them.

They ride on without him.

The neighbours all comment on what a stroke of good fortune this is.

The famer simply replies “Good or bad, hard to say”.

The story sounds simplistic, but it makes a profound point.

Events in themselves are neither good or bad, they just are.

Any value is contributed by the human mind.

This is the basis of enlightenment, because realising it is a Copernican shift.

What do we mean by a ‘Copernican’ shift?

Nicolaus Copernicus was a Polish mathematician and astronomer, born in 1473.

According to Hollywood, Columbus was the first person to realise the world was round.

This isn’t true of course, ever since the Greeks we’ve known the world was round.

But we thought it was the centre of the universe, and the planets rotated around us.

In 1543, Copernicus published the first book to turn that inside out.

He taught that the sun was actually at the centre, and the earth rotated around the sun.

This was the Copernican shift.

From believing everything rotated around you, to realising you rotated around the sun.

It was, in effect, turning belief and experience inside out.

What we now call cognitive dissonance.

And that’s what we mean by a Copernican shift, turning thinking inside out.

And that is what enlightenment does, what the little story above hints at.

Despite the fact that we experience things as good or bad, everything exists merely as an event, neither good nor bad.

Viewed from one side it’s bad, viewed from the other side it’s good, but the event itself doesn’t change, it simply is.

All that changes is the perspective the event is viewed from.

The mind provides the perspective, which it then experiences as the truth.

Is fire good or bad, is a knife good or bad, is money good or bad, is meat good or bad, is speed good or bad, is death good or bad?

The answer is what the answer always is: it depends.

It depends on perspective, which is another name for mind.

We don’t live in reality, we live in what the mind creates from reality.

That’s what Buddha meant by “All there is, is mind.”

If we don’t understand that how can we possibly communicate?

To begin to understand that is the beginning of being able to communicate.

Because unless we understand and accept the difficulties, and the differences, we’ll carry on living in our own little world.

Talking to ourselves and wondering why no one is listening or understanding.


Just the way we do at present.