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Maybe so; maybe not.


This quote doesn’t mean anything unless you know the classic Zen story behind it.  I heard Dr. Dyer tell it years ago, and here’s how I remember it:

A farmer walking into town passes The Buddha and says, “Buddha, please help me.  Something terrible has happened.  My ox just died and now I have no way to plow my fields.  Isn’t that the worst thing that could have happened to me?”

The Buddha replies, “Maybe so; maybe not.”

The farmer walks away shaking his head, thinking The Buddha has obviously gone mad.  On his way home, he spots a huge, strong, wild horse and ropes him.  This horse will do even more work than the ox.

Next week, the farmer sees The Buddha and says, “You were right!  I now have a horse that can do twice the work of my old ox.  Isn’t that wonderful news?”

“Maybe so; maybe not,” says The Buddha.

Again, the farmer walks home thinking The Buddha has lost touch with reality.  When he arrives, he finds his son lying on the ground with a broken leg.  He had been thrown while riding the new horse.

On his next trip into town, the farmer spots The Buddha and says, “You were right again.  The horse broke my son’s leg.  Now he won’t be able to help me at harvest time.  Surely, Buddha, don’t you see this is the worst news imaginable?”

“Maybe so; maybe not,” the Buddha calmly replied.

That was the last straw.  The farmer walked away telling himself he had wasted enough time seeking advice from this old, senile man.

Just then, word spread throughout town that war had broken out against a bigger, stronger village.  Troops were going to every house and farm to round up all the able-bodied young men to fight.  They would be outnumbered and outmatched, and would most likely die.

The farmer rushed home.  The troops had come, but since his son had a broken leg, he was not taken and his life was spared.

And from that day forward, the farmer never doubted the wisdom of The Buddha again.

In Business:

Use this story and particularly the “maybe so; maybe not” quote to help you see business opportunities where others only see obstacles.

Remember, the greatest private fortunes in American history were made during The Great Depression, America’s worst financial crisis. 

Did Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, and Vanderbilt think, “What’s the point?  We’ll wait until economic conditions are better.  No use trying to do anything now.” 

They adopted the maybe-so-maybe-not attitude, dreaming up innovations that changed the world and created limitless opportunities for themselves and others.

In Life:

“Maybe so; maybe not” is the perfect mantra to maintain perspective in your life.

It’s best not to go through life ruled by your emotions.  I’m not saying don’t have emotions; I’m saying don’t be a slave to them.  Too many people are.

So remember…

Maybe so; maybe not.

— Wayne Dyer

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