Class Readings and Inspiration

The Story of the Taoist Farmer

As told by Colleen Saidman Yee in Yoga For LIfe: A Journey to Inner Peace and Freedom


For many years, an old farmer had worked his fields with a loyal horse. One day, the horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, the farmer's neighbors stopped by to comiserate. 

"Such bad luck!" they said to the farmer.

"Maybe," he replied.

The next morning the horse showed up, bringing with it three wild horses. 

"How wonderful!" the neighbors exclaimed. "You have three new horses!"

"Maybe," replied the farmer.

The following day, the farmer's son tried to ride one of the untamed horses. He was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors came to offer their condolences. 

"Such terrible news!" they said.

"Maybe," answered the farmer.

The next day, military officers showed up at the village to draft all the young men into the army. Since the farmer's son's leg was broken, they rejected him. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how the accident had benefitted his family.

"Maybe," he said.

And so it goes. Life is sometimes beautiful, sometimes ugly, sometimes sad, sometimes joyful. It's a wild, unpredicutable ride. The best we can do is to take the ride with love and a sense of humor. Notice your breath in the present moment, whether you consider it to be a "good" moment or a "bad" moment. Because that moment is all we have, and... "This too shall pass."

The Journey 

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice -

though the whole house

began to tremble 

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles

"Mend my life!"

each voice cried

But you didn't stop

you knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with it's stiff fingers

at the very foundations

though their melancholy

was terrible .

It was already late 

enough, and a wild night

and road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do-

determined to save

the only life you could save.

by Sean D. Watson

In Sanskrit, yoga means to unite. When we are separate from ourselves - physically, emotionally, mentally - when we are detached from our selves, it creates an environment within us of fear and anxiety. When we learn to unite all of the parts of ourselves, to accept and love all of those parts, it creates harmony and wholeness within us.


The same can be said about our external relationships as well. When we feel separate from our fellow human - when we see everyone as them or us rather than we, it creates a sense of disconnectedness, leading to fear, and anxiety. But when we learn of our connectedness, and we can truly learn to love each other as we have learned to love ourselves, then, and only then, we can create peace. 

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