12 March 2008

Master the Mount


Masters of My Youth
How horses were my authoritarian mistresses and masters of youth. There I would go each day after school, peddling to the stable to be greeted with a low whinny and nodding head, large and ominous from afar, gentle and smoldering up close. Eyes like giant Smarties in the snow or tiny pools of rain collected in a hollow of decaying leaves. Brown, deep and happily foreboding a joy that lived in pungent coats and runny noses.

They gave me palpable joy. They gave me freedom to control and love at the same time. Responsibility of that kind is a safe arena to learn about emotions, and how they elicit or destroy respect. It was an act of love.

Mindfulness, A Chore
Mine was a childhood of time spent on great beings that filled me with openness and occasioned a great deal of chores. Their dependence on me elicited an outpouring of genuine self. They needed me. They were 'me'.

There I sat day after day atop the present, racing into a future that didn't know me yet, that could only be found in secret understandings and cajoles, restraint and guidance. We pranced toward horizons and galloped in the face of danger, a hair away from mortality.

Perilous Path
Sidestepping the perilous predicaments of youth, they held me back from the murder of innocence that lurks on the bridge to the adult hood. Each adventure down a road, along a beach, or indoors under the roof of a wet barn flanked by sweaty animals, steaming grains and musty woolen blankets smoking with heat, was safety.

It was they who kept me. I see now, it was I who occasioned the great deal of responsibility and care. It was a fragile self who found in them, refuge. They graciously dipped into an abundance of wildness and together we exercised emotions and patience.

Chögyam Trungpa gave a talk entitled, Taming the Horse, Riding the Mind:
"Educating oneself is said to be like taming a wild horse, a horse which has never been touched by anyone ... That is a great success. You feel good, you feel that you have accomplished something. Nonetheless, you still have to ride the horse. And that is another process, another struggle. It is quite possible that the horse will throw you off. If you are able to hold on to the rein, that might help you to control the horse; but it is still questionable. Maybe that would give you forty percent control. For the rest you are taking a chance. Our state of mind is like a wild horse."

Mount the Mind
The taming of the mind is like riding a mount. It is a Buddhist metaphor. The meditator the jockey, and the mind the teeming, infinite careening of unbridled energy. There you sit atop it all, more often than not carried where it wants, where it desires.

But, learn to ride well and it becomes your strongest ally, swiftly carrying you to destinations otherwise inaccessible. The path beaten without, the self mastered within. Our mount, our refuge; the intimate relationship of rider and mount, the sanctuary we seek.


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