Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Samyuta Agama Sutra

In the Samyuta Agama Sutra, Śākyamuni Buddha discusses the four kinds of horses. This metaphor of the four types of horses speaks about how we are in our lives or when we practice or perhaps it could be called the four temperaments of meditation students in general. The first class is the superior class and is like a horse that immediately obeys its rider’s direction by merely seeing the shadow of the whip. The second horse acts accordingly with the rider when the whip brushes up against its hair, perhaps just the hair of its flowing mane. The third type of horse, or temperament, is where the whip has actually touched the flesh and it feels the stinging superficial pain; but the fourth, the lowest and worst kind of horse, is the one who will act only when the whip’s pain reaches to the marrow of its bones.

Although most of us often would like to be like the best kind of horse and penetrate to the heart of practice immediately, often our attempts to be the first and best kind of horse is what transforms us ultimately into the fourth type of horse. Once we arrive in this space it seems that we need to be whipped or metaphorically beaten repeatedly, however, this is only caused from our stubbornness and our constant effort to either avoid or ignore the whip itself. We develop an image or ideal that relates to our practice and we bring this idea to our practice by trying to be like this first horse, or the second horse, or the third horse, or even the fourth horse. We lose our practice by comparing ourselves to some fixed idea or concept; we loose touch with the essential realm of our breath, as well as this very moment that arises without any comparisons or categories.

Yet, it has always been just this breath, just this thought, it is just this moment existing in every corner of this vast unending cosmos arising just here, and just now. Practicing within an image of practice never allows us to actually touch our true self in any real way. To connect to our practice and ultimately to wake up, we must practice completely in each and every moment of our lives. We must allow ourselves to get a glimpse of the shadow, and we must allow our practice to touch our hair, to contact our flesh with stinging reality, and to ultimately penetrate to the marrow of our bones, without separating this complete reality into disparate events.
Source: Peering Through the Clouds; glimpses of the present, between the shadows of discursive thought, the prose and poetry of Dochŏng, JDPSN, First Edition, Beforethought Publications

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