The Horace the Horse Sutra


1024px-ManègeLR1We forget many of the influences upon our lives. Some are burned into our minds; usually the ones we’d rather forget. Every now and then a positive truth gets embedded in our memories. I remember back in elementary school listening to a song that totally blew my mind. Horace the Horse was a children’s song we listened to from a record and it changed everything.

Horace the horse on the merry-go-round

Went up and down, round and round

He’s been sad since the day he found

He’s the very last horse on the merry-go-round

The music began and away they go

High and low, to and fro

Poor old Horace would always say

“I’m the very last horse again today.”

How he tried and tried and tried

But he just never could win.

Horace cried and cried and cried

cause all the other horses were ahead of him

Then came the day on the merry-go-round

When Horace turned, looked around

Then said “Gosh oh gee —

I’m the very first horse on the merry-go-round,

The others are following me!”

I was listening to this song, really listening to the words, while sitting on a carpeted floor. My memory is vague on the specifics, though it was evening. There I was listening to this simple children’s song when all of a sudden…Bam! I understood the truth contained within the Horace the Horse Sutra. This was like when a Zen Master thwacks his student with a stick and everything falls into place. The merry-go-round is the real circle of life. We’re all spinning and while it may appear someone is ahead of us, it’s a matter of perspective.

We’ve all been Horace at one point or another. We see someone ‘ahead’ on the merry-go-around who we interpret as being more successful, superior to us in some fashion. We might be taking our cues from society, yet the interpretation is ours, meaning it is something we can change. Follow the example of Horace who changed his perspective and found happiness. Yet beware, for like all powerful truths, the Horace the Horse Sutra can be used for evil.

When I saw Return of the Jedi in the theaters a few years later, Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Bam! Obi-Wan Kenobi had clearly studied the Horace the Horse Sutra. The problem was he was twisting the teaching into an exercise in postmodernism to justify his outright lie to Luke! We live in an age where truth and perspective have become increasingly blurred, it is easy to lose our way like Kenobi. This is something I constantly struggle with. The answer is simple.

Kenobi used perspective to conceal the truth while Horace used perspective to find the truth. Be like Horace. 

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