Sunday, July 19, 2009

On Horses

A beautiful quote I got from the "Mastery" book by George Leonard. The quote is by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki in his book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, which describes his approach to the question of fast and slow learners:

"In our scriptures, it is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver's will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones. You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn to run.

When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse. If it is impossible to be the best one, we want to be the second best.

If you study calligraphy, you will find that those who are not so clever usually become the best calligraphers. Those who are very clever with their hands often encounter great difficulty after they have reached a certain stage. This is also true in art, and in life."
Now, I understand why I have come to dislike very smart people :)))))


  1. God! the quote is terribly right!!
    But...poor very smart people!
    They have a hard life ahead of them and on the other hand, you dislike them! They mostly suffer from inside...

  2. I was quite fast in learning different things, from music to painting, etc. but I left many of them unfinished, sometimes after a few years of practice ... and I always wondered why ... this could be part of the reason ...

    thanks for your comment!

  3. Smart people are arrogant, usually; me included.

    Now, that was arrogant, wasn't it?! ;)

  4. Smart people are not only arrogant but typically ignorant as well: Now this is arrogant, implying that I maybe be smart and ignorant :)))))

    Anyway, I should have focused on horses to avoid hurting people's feelings :)

  5. hah! i do agree with the point of the story but I am sure it is applicable to all smart pp. I mean the word "smart" is subject to interpretation. what is smart and who is smart?

    and thanx for the comments. I believe my writing is more of a coping mechanism rather than a defense mechanism. But it doesnt make much difference. I have learned to keep the magnifying glasses on me all the time. the constant self awareness is no fun!

  6. OK, I guess one way of looking at the story is that smart people, or fast learners, have a more difficult time "learning" :)
    This seems paradoxical, but the problem is with words. I only started to get a feeling for it after practicing Kyudo for a while ...

    You may be right that your writing is a copying mechanism, in any case, I believe it is useful :)
    I am not sure about the self-awareness ... It really depends on what you "do", if you keep criticizing your "self" it will be very harmful. But if you take a non-judgmental position then I believe the awareness is a strong way of healing


IT'S NOT ...

.. ``It's not your spread, and it's not how strong you are, and it's not how fast you are, because you have all those thing...