Birdlip, July 1, 1944
THE PARABLE OF THE HORSE,
CARRIAGE AND DRIVER

One of the many ways in which the Work illustrates the position of Man is found in the Parable of the Horse, Carriage and Driver. In this parable or correspondence, Man in his ordinary state is compared with a horse, carriage and driver in the following way. As Man is, according to this parable, the driver who should be on the box and control the horse and carriage is drinking in a "public house" and spending nearly all his money there. The driver is not on the box because he is drunk and as a result the horse gets little or no food and is in a bad condition and the carriage is in a bad state and needs repairs. The first thing that is necessary is that the driver should wake up from his sleep and begin to think of his situation. Have you ever thought what the public house is and what the drink is and what the drunkenness is?

Now supposing he does awaken to a certain extent and laves his pictures and his illusions about himself a little and begins to think of his situation. He must leave the public house and then he will begin to see the condition of the horse and carriage. The horse is starving, the carriage in very bad condition. He notices that the horse is not properly harnessed to the carriage and that there are no reins between the horse and the box — that is, nothing to communicate between the driver and the horse.

Let us take only this part of the parable — viz. that there are no reins. Obviously it would be useless for the driver to get on the box unless the reins were present. Perhaps you know by now that you have no reins between the Intellectual Centre and the Emotional Centre. In this parable the horse represents the Emotional Centre and the driver represents the mind. There is no proper connection between the thoughts and the emotions. We may mentally think and decide to behave in a certain way for instance, not to lose our temper, but when the actual situation arises we find our thoughts have no control of our feelings — that is, no control of the horse. In the parable this means we have no reins between the driver and the horse — I am assuming the driver is on the box. Is it not true that we decide mentally that we will not allow ourselves to behave in a certain way and fail? For what usually happens? We cannot control the horse. The horse behaves independently of what the mind has decided upon. You may, for instance, decide to be very brave in the presence of danger. A bomb bursts and you find yourself unable to control the horse. You begin to shake all over and so on. This is because there are no reins connecting the driver with the horse. The trouble is that the driver and the horse speak different languages. The horse — that is, the Emotional Centre — does not understand the words of the driver — that is, Intellectual Centre. I remember how often G. used to speak of the reins — that is, the way of connecting the driver with the horse. What language does the Emotional Centre use? It uses the language of visual imagery. The Emotional Centre does not know any intellectual words or theories, but it understands visual images. For instance, if you are in danger and feel nervous, and you meet a man who is visibly quiet, it helps the horse — that is, the Emotional Centre. The calm man is a visual image and this affects the horse and calms him. From one side, then, the Emotional Centre is governed through the language of visual imagery. How can the driver connect with Emotional Centre? You understand, it is not enough to have thoughts alone because the Emotional Centre or horse does not understand those thoughts which usually take the form of words. I mean that ordinary thinking takes the form of language, words, such as "I will be brave" or "I will not mind what he or she says." So you begin to see that these reins that connect the driver with the horse are interesting things, and the reason why G. used often to talk of them. Now suppose you are up against some situation that can easily make you negative. You say to yourself "I will not be negative" or "I will not react to this situation", and you may use many phrases like that in the mind — that is, the driver — and yet when the situation arises the horse gets out of control. I remember G. saying on one occasion in France: "Yes, driver he know, horse he not know. Horse he not understand. He not understand what driver says." That is to say, there are no reins passing from the driver to the horse. The driver does not know how to control the horse. He thinks he can control it himself by arranging his thoughts in a certain way. The horse does not know this language. It does not receive the messages. In fact, the horse does not know the decisions of the driver. And if the driver knows nothing about the horse and how to approach the horse and tell it things, then he is exactly as if he is in the position of a person on the box who has no reins to control the horse. How can the horse understand the language of the driver? Whether the driver speaks and thinks in English or in French or in German or Hindustani, the horse does not know any such verbal language or thought. I suppose all of you have noticed this — that you have no reins between your thoughts and your feelings. I was talking to someone the other day who has been in the Work a long time, and this person said it was so interest- ing to think of these reins that connect the driver and horse, and how obvious it was from self-observation that there was no connection. And this remark reminded me of many things said in the past. It also reminded me how easily we accept some parable of the Work, some teaching, and never think deeply of what it means. I would like to remind you what has been said many times in the past that the Work is seeing more and more deeply what has already been heard. People understand the Work superficially, for instance, that you must observe your negative emotions, but what a long time it takes to do this. All development, all inner evolution, depends on the seeing more deeply what we at present see on the surface. So people hear about this horse, carriage and driver and also hear there are no reins between the driver and the horse, and just take it as a statement. People may say, for example: "Why, don't you know the parable of the horse, carriage and driver already? Don't you know there are no reins?" Yes, but have you ever thought what it means?

Now you must understand that we are not talking about the waking up of the driver in this conversation. I am talking about the driver who has wakened up a little and is no longer in the public house. I am speaking of people who have got a little beyond sleep, vanity and pictures of themselves, people who have seen through a little of their False Personality, people who have begun to see that they are not in the least like what they thought they were. What does this mean, this first stage of waking up from drunkenness? After a time in this Work it is possible to see the people who are faster asleep than you are, people who are more drunk than you are — drunk with their own importance, their own negative states, drunk with the idea that they can do everything, etc. As I said, I am not talking of such people, for it is quite obvious that as long as a man or a woman thinks that there is nothing wrong with himself or herself and that they are going to take this Work as something added to themselves as they are, they will remain drunk in the public house. Of course, they will never think they are in a public house in a drunken condition. On the contrary they will have wonder- ful ideas of themselves, namely, that they have Will, that they can do, that they are efficient, that they know best, that they have a real per- manent 'I' and all the rest of it. Unless they have wakened up from these profound illusions and have begun to feel their own helplessness and nothingness, they will never be able to climb on the box. We are speaking of people who have wakened up a little and are trying to sit on the box and control the horse, and are not still completely drunk in the public house.

Now let us reflect for a moment on one meaning of the connecting reins between the driver and the horse. I suppose each one of us who has gone far enough in the Work begins to know a little of this connection. But I must assure you all that it is no good for me to try to tell you exactly what this connection is. You all know this type of question: "Will you tell me exactly what the reins are?" It is often said that we have to pay for Great Knowledge by long work. When I meet a person who understands this and does not ask me: "What exactly does Self- Remembering mean? What exactly is self-observation? What exactly is this Work about?" I know he has begun to wake up from his drunken sleep in life — that is, in the public house. Then I know that this person is waking up from this terrible hypnotism that plays on mankind. Here then we have somebody who is emerging from the public house, perhaps not very steady on his feet, but possibly capable of looking at his horse and carriage. He may climb up to the box and fall off (as we all do) and yet there is some understanding that this is what we have to do. And I can assure you that if you have reached this point you are in the Work. Of course, you often go back to the public house. Often you get so far on the box and fall off again, but you have already got an idea of what this Work is about. And I would add, do not mind if you fall off the box very often, so long as you have something more in you that knows you are off the box and a real wish to get back. It is here that you have to work against negative emotions of a certain kind. The reins are not made between the driver and the horse — or rather only wrong reins are made mechanically. They are not made in the first and second states of consciousness. The first state is actual sleep, the second state is the so-called waking state. To establish a right connec- tion between the Intellectual Centre and the Emotional Centre — that is, between the driver and the horse — you must be able, to however limited an extent, to remember yourself and be in attention.

Now why does a parable exist? Why is the teaching in the Gospels in the form of parables? It is visual imagery. The horse understands visual language, the driver words, and the parable connects the two. Visual imagery is a universal language. It is the language of signs. The horse only understands a universal language of visual images. That is why, if you wish to control the horse from the mind, you must visualize and not merely think. One of the things we are taught in this Work is visualization. You must visualize what you have thought of in regard to your behaviour to any particular person. That is, you must take that person into your visualization. To visualize a person is a form of external considering, in the deepest sense. (I would say visualizing another as yourself, visualizing his or her individual troubles as if you yourself were that person, is the beginning of making reins between the driver and the horse, and this really means visualizing the other person eventually). You cannot visualize a person in the right way if you are negative towards the person. You have heard that the Emotional Centre is clairvoyant when it is purified of negative emotions. Now you cannot visualize another person if you are doing it from duty. I would advise you very strongly not to attempt it. Visualization is a very quiet activity, a very quiet process. As a rule you only get a quarter of the way and give it up. You can only visualize another person rightly when you know something about yourself. We become human to one another when we know ourselves. An exercise was given to us to visualize one another and to say to the person visualized: "What is your trouble?" and if rightly done it was said that the person would tell you. That is, the image would speak to you. I can only say that I know this is possible but very difficult. The purification of the Emo- tional Centre is one of the tasks in the Work. We have to handle one another far more gently internally than externally. Many things, some illnesses, headaches, sudden loss of force, begin to happen to us at a certain stage of the Work if we treat one another wrongly. The Work is a very pure thing and depends on inner purity. You all understand what it means to be pure by now. What is meant by purity? Purity is sincerity. I was much amused the other day to hear someone had talked very badly about the Work about which I was told and then I was told that this person was furious with the person who told me about it. Is this purity? So when you try to visualize someone else, and it takes time to do so and is certainly not worth doing if you are not pure in this sense, you must remember that the whole of the Work comes in at this point. You can help one another, but not without the Work behind you. This visualization is the connection between the Intellectual Centre and the Emotional Centre and if you have an aim to behave rightly towards somebody, you must visualize yourself behaving rightly, and not merely think it. It is remarkable that a little pure visualization helps everyone and yourself. Merely thinking does not help enough, but is necessary. Mere talking is worse than anything, because by talking you are so often justifying yourself. You know how often you say: "Well, I am going to do my best to help him and I promise you I won't say anything unpleasant." And then what happens? Well, observe it in yourself. You have merely fed your imagination and your vanity and done nothing to help the situation. You know when a cat rubs himself against your leg he is caressing not you but himself. Visualization is directed imagination, not a self-pleasurable imagination.

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