Stories/Koans/Parables: “This is very Good”

In a far away land lived a king renowned for his wisdom. The king was so wise he made sure to surround himself with the wisest advisors, and he made the wisest of those his most close and trusted friend.

One morning the king arose from his bed, tripped over his numerous blankets, fell to the floor and broke his ankle. He cried out in pain, then in indignation. “Why would something like this happen to me? I’m a good king, I’m fair and honest!” He sent for his friend, the wisest woman in the realm, to come answer his questions.

She took one look at his ankle and blurted out, “Oh this is a very good thing for everyone!”

Well the king did not like this very much at all. “You see my pain and injury and declare it a good thing? You’re a fool. Guards, take her to the dungeons!”

Several weeks passed until the king awoke one morning to find his ankle almost completely healed and finally well enough for him to take one of his cherished long horse rides. He climbed upon that horse and just rode and rode and rode, further than he’s ever rode before! It had been so long since he indulged in his favorite pastime that it didn’t occur to him that he even rode past the boundaries of his own kingdom.

The king had crossed over into the territory of cannibals who, upon seeing the well fed lone rider, converged upon his person and took him captive.

“We ’bout to eat good tonight!” They could be heard chanting all the way back to their village.

The head chef began preparing the scrumptious king when he noticed the still yet to be fully healed ankle. “Oh no, this will not do. You are tainted with illness of some sort. Be gone from our lands!”


The king merrily jumped back on his horse and road directly to the dungeons where his best friend was still being held.

“You were right! You were right.” He exclaimed, apologized, and embraced the woman like a long lost distant relative. “BUT,” he said “the ankle may have been a good thing for me. What about you? You’ve spent all this time alone in the dark dungeons, hungry, hot, without even your books to keep you company. How was this a good thing for you?”

She looked up into his face and said, “Sire, you and I go everywhere together. If I were not in this place then surely I would have been riding by your side. Once the cannibals realized their great treat was spoiled then surely they would have settled upon me instead. These dark, hot, dirty dungeons saved my life.”



Is it possible for you to say “This is very good,” to each moment in your life?  I can do it most of the time, but definitely not always. With the understanding that I never know what inconvenience or tragedy or disappointment is actually serving as Saving Grace, I remain open to whatever life brings. But even when I fail in the effort to be open, I often look back at the thing I was so disturbed by and see the blessing that unfolded from that situation. I think the best thing to do while we’re alive is to do our best, surround ourselves with good people, and let the chips fall where they may. Of all the things in the universe, that is all we really have control over: what we do and who we do it with. The king was a good guy and he had good people around him — so he was being taken care of even in the midst of perceived tragedy. Maybe “tragedy” is a strong word for a broken ankle, but I think you get the point.

May you be the good in your life, may you surround yourself with good people, and may you see the very good in every circumstance. 


What about you? What are the circumstances in which you have difficulty seeing the “Very Good?”