There is a story in zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, “Where are you going?” and the first man replies, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!”
This is how our mind is – a galloping horse, and we are just sitting on it, riding it with out a clue as to where it is going. Day in and day out, we think about things – from the past and lay plans for the future. However, we really have no idea what we are doing in the present.
We are at war in our minds. We struggle incessantly. Even if we close our eyes for just a second we see a deluge of images and thoughts cross our minds. Our mind is wild and it gets wilder as it is fed a constant diet of sensory overload of information day in and day out.
When was the last time you sat in silence with out a gadget in your hands, watching TV, listening to music or doing something else? If you try to do that – be silent and do nothing, your mind will rebel. It will flutter and struggle like a wild horse that has been tied up. It will try to break free so it can gallop again at will.
The mind replays the past like the reruns of a TV soap. In those reruns sometimes we do or say things that we feel we should have said or done. Or we relive a sad moment or a happy one. The horse gallops.
The mind shows us the future in a ver real way. It plays various possible scenarios of the future. We see things that could go wrong or the suffering we may face. Or we day dream and see things that we wish would become reality. The horse gallops.
In both these cases, the mind is showing us illusions. It is ok to remember something from time to time or to plan something for the future. But to let the horse gallop is wrong. You need to control that horse and bring it to a stop. Then you can ride it at will and tell it go where you want it to go.
You can do this by practicing to still the mind. To become aware of the thoughts and truth about the illusory nature of thoughts. To remember that thoughts are just illusions. They are not real. They have nothing to do with reality.
By meditating and becoming aware of the present moment, you can stop the horse and control it. Once the horse stops galloping you can then direct the mind to focus on important things – the task at hand, the food you eat, the people you love and so on. You will see a dramatic improvement in the quality of your life and most importantly peace of mind.