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Chinese Idioms - 塞翁失马,安知非福

Posted by vann0000 February 9, 2009 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: idiom, good, bad, relative

Blessing or Bane (塞翁失马,安知非福 sai weng shi ma an zhi fei fu)


Once upon a time, there was an old man living in the frontier area near Mongolia. People called him Sai Weng.  He raised many herds of horses, but one day, one of the horses ran away.

When the neighbors heard this news, they came to comfort him.  They knew he was old and not in very good health and didn't want him to worry too much.  When the man saw his neighbors' concern, he smiled and said: "It is not a great loss, and perhaps it will even bring an unexpected blessing."

When the neighbors heard this, they thought Sai Weng's attitude was absurd. The loss of the horse was obviously a bad thing, but Sai Weng said that it might turn out to be something good.  It seemed that he was trying too hard to console himself.  But not much later, the horse returned, bringing with it another good horse.

When the neighbors heard about this, they were amazed that his prediction had come true.  They congratulated him: "You have great foresight.  Your horse has not only returned, but brought you another horse.  This is truly a great blessing."

After Sai Weng heard his neighbor's congratulations, he wasn't happy at all.  He said anxiously, "I got a horse for nothing.  Perhaps this is not a blessing after all.  It will probably bring trouble."

Sai Weng had an only son who loved to ride horses. The moment the son saw the new horse, he was delighted because he knew it was an excellent horse.  From then on, he rode that horse every day for fun.  One day, he was too excited about riding and rode too fast.  He was thrown from the horse and broke his leg.  When the neighbors heard this, they all came again to console Sai Weng.

Sai Weng said, "It's nothing.  Although my son's leg was broken, his life was spared.  Maybe this will turn out to be a blessing."  The neighbor's thought this was nonsense.  They didn't know what blessing could come from breaking a leg.

Not long after this, soldiers from Mongolia invaded.  All the young men were recruited to take up arms to fight.  Of the men who were recruited, almost all were killed in battle. Because Sai Weng's son had a broken leg, he was not recruited to fight.  His life was saved because of his broken leg.

This idiom shows that in this world, good and bad are not absolute.  Bad things can bring good results, and good things can bring bad results.

从前,有位老人住在与北方胡人相邻(xiāng lín)的边塞(biān sài)地区,所以人们都叫他塞翁.他养了许多马,一天马群中忽然有一匹(pī)走失了.

邻居们听到这事,都来安慰(ān wèi)他不必太着急,年龄大了,多注意身体.塞翁见有人劝慰(quàn wèi),笑笑说:"丢了一匹马损失不大,也许还会带来福气."

邻居听了塞翁的话,心里觉得好笑.马丢了,明明是件坏事,他却认为也许是好事,显然(xiǎn rán)是自我安慰而已.可是没过多久,那匹丢失的马又跑回来了,还带回一匹骏马(jùn mǎ).

邻居听说马自己回来了,非常佩服(pèi fú)塞翁的预见,向塞翁道贺(dào hè)说:"还是您老有远见,马不仅没有丢,还带回一匹好马,真是福气呀."

塞翁听了邻人的祝贺(zhù hè),却一点高兴的样子都没有,忧虑(yōu lǜ)地说:"白白得了一匹好马,不一定是什么福气,也许会惹(rě)出什么麻烦来."

塞翁有个独生子,非常喜欢骑马.他一看见带回来的那匹马就知道是匹好马,他感到非常高兴.从此,他每天都骑着这匹马玩. 有一天,他高兴得有些过火,打马飞奔(fēi bēn),一个趔趄(liè qiè),从马背上掉了下来,摔断(shuāi duàn)了一条腿.邻居听说,纷纷(fēn fēn)来慰问(wèi wèn).

塞翁说:"没什么,腿摔断了却保住性命,或许是福气呢."邻居们觉得他简直是在胡言乱语(hú yán luàn yǔ).他们想不出,摔断腿会带来什么福气.

不久,匈奴(Xiōng nú)兵大举入侵(dà jǔ rù qīn),青年人被应征入伍(yìng zhēng rù wǔ),拿起武器作战.入伍的青年十有八九都战死了.塞翁的儿子因为摔断了腿,没有被征去打仗,所以才保全了性命.

这个成语说明人世间的好事和坏事都不是绝对的,在一定的条件下,坏事可以引出好的结果,好事也可能会引出坏的结果.

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