fú huò xiāng yǐ 福祸相倚
Fortune and Misfortune Are Intertwined.
Fortune and misfortune are intertwined. The term “fortune and misfortune” refers broadly to opposing aspects such as the auspicious and inauspicious, advantages and disadvantages, gains and losses, good and bad. The ancient Chinese believed that such opposing aspects are relative, and that they also share common elements. They are dialectically unified during the course of an event; as the event progresses, conditions change and turn into their opposites. Bad things may lead to good outcomes and good things may likewise lead to bad outcomes. This dialectic is a reminder that when circumstances are favorable, one must be on guard against bad developments; similarly, when circumstances are unfavorable, one must see a ray of hope and, at the right moment, try to make things take a turn for the better. Ideas such as “things reverse course when pushed to an extreme,” “in peaceful times, be on guard against danger,” and “losing a horse may be a blessing in disguise” are related to this dialectical approach.
Fortune lies beside misfortune; misfortune lurks within fortune. (Laozi)
Fortune can turn into misfortune and misfortune may become fortune. Such changes are unpredictable and too profound to understand. (Huainanzi)