Whoa Horse! I told you to stop, damn it!

black and white,

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 also our story. We are riding a horse, we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves…We have to learn the art of stopping – stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us. When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace.

– Thích Nhât Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering Into Peace, Joy and Liberation

Credits: Quote – Sensual Starfish. Image: landscapre



  1. Big fan of Thich Nhat Hanh, sounds just like meditation Dave??? Happy Friday my friend. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m good on a horse – it’s stopping my brain I have issues with (I got it Dave – I was just trying to make a joke)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I like this a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wisdom from the sage… stop the giddy upping.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. just what i needed this morning, david. thank you. gonna pause this horse today!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. And we pull frantically on the reigns for some semblance of control….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. i love zen stories – they teach a complex lesson with a simple story. powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Paradoxically, the only way to get off the horse is to stop identifying with the rider of the horse. If we are not the rider then who are we?
    Here is an extract from the personal account of a great philosopher Douglas Harding, who was led to his “natural” state( which is the same as everyone/thing’s):
    He lost his head and gained the whole universe. The experiments on headless.org are wonderful tools to find the answer to the question, as old as the origin of man; “Who am I?”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Ok some kind of twin, you’ve gone and done it again. Seriously. This is so good. So timely. So helpful. I shared with a friend and she zeroed in on the phrase, ‘our habit energies’ and I found such resonance with the last sentence: “When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace.” GULP. AIR. Yes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yesterday, as I was doing an exercise program, I kept thinking of all the things I hadn’t accomplished though out my day, I kept reviewing the list — and I would feel my whole self sigh and get weak… so tempted to stop — too weak to try. My husband likes to say that we often allow the tail to wag the dog. Thanks for sharing this profound snippet. I’m encouraged to find a way to quell the storm.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on Makere's Blog and commented:
    Time to fall off the horse?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such wisdom – from no one but my most favourite Zen Master. A story I will remember and spread!

    Liked by 1 person


  1. renplus says:

    […] one of the blogs that I follow, I found a story by Thích Nhât Hanh, one of my favorite contemporary philosophers, that described anxiety as a galloping […]

    Liked by 2 people

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