Runaway Horses and Buddhism
For those who have ever received twenty-four hour Mahayana ordination vows I should tell the real agenda behind these Mahayana purification vows. The grand agenda is to tame your mind. This is not like taming a domesticated animal, like training puppies not to pee on the fancy living room carpet. Not like that kind of a taming, although I am feeling that in the process of gaining enlightenment for many meditators might feel that the enlightenment process should be like the untamed wild West. They want a sense of excitement, anticipation and infinite possibilities in an untamed rush toward the awakened state.
An untamed mind is like a horseman whose stirrup straps slipped. I saw this in a movie – the rider is sliding underneath the horse, the horse is on top and the rider is on the underbelly of the horse just barely hanging on; his head is almost in the dirt. The reins are just flying in the wind and the horse goes anywhere it chooses. This kind of feeling comes more like the untamed mind. Imagine how distressed and confused the rider feels. However, the rider whose stirrups are tight on the horse, like the one living in the vows, who is the caretaker of their vows, is firmly seated on the upper part of the horse with the reins in their hands. This taming allows him or her to be the horseman and not the horse.
When the mind is untamed, mental energies are out of balance. When the mental energies are seriously out of balance, the mind is shaking, like the reins of a runaway horse. The mind is rising and falling like a sick dog about to heave. Have you ever watched a dog about to vomit? Like this, an extremly suffering mind is going up and down and not able deal with ordinary life, much less be able to resonate with higher states of mind with undamaged energies.
Another poor method to tame your mind is to squash down your mental energies. If there is some success there is a lethargic behavior that might appear that the mind is tamed, which perhaps is not too bad an idea for social unacceptables. This is what they do in American prisons, ideally. They control the behavior of violent or dangerous people by preventing their mental energies from moving by behavior control by rules and environment control. I am giving an extreme example. However, these techniques are used to prevent danger to others from arising. But the moment any outer environmental issue arises, the original untamed energies can erupt like a volcano in anger or other delusions. Then it not take too long before the horseman is back underneath the horse, the harness are all undone again.