Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Carriage, the Horse, and the Coachman (Part 2.)

In my first post I characterized the carriage, the horse, and the coachman as an analogy—an analogy that explains the functioning of human beings. In this post I would like to explore it as a tool for self-awareness.

Sometimes I might ask a guitar student in a lesson to observe, saying something like; “Let’s take one minute and just observe. I’ll let you know when the minute is over. Okay, let’s start now.”
When the minute is up I’ll ask the student what they observed. More often than not the student does not have much to say and I explain that the problem was that the question I asked was too broad. “Observe what?” would have been the reply if I had given the student the time to respond before beginning the exercise.

I explain that I should have been more specific—observe sounds in and outside the studio, or observe the furniture and decor, or observe their thoughts, or their breathing. I might then repeat the exercise giving a more specific object of observation. When the minute is over I repeat the question; “What did you observe?” and the replies—the observations—are of a more detailed nature and quality.

Using the analogy of the carriage, the horse, and the coachman as a basis for self-observation might render a different level of observation than just trying to self-observe. This was my assumption, but to acquire real material I had to do—to attempt—the self-observation.

After a few days, it became clear to me that I only remembered to try to observe at certain times—certain occasions—like during meditation, or while doing yoga, or walking, or playing certain pieces of music, but remembering to try to observe myself was less likely to happen during transitional moments between activities and seldom while talking to people—unless the subject of the conversation had to do with the analogy or self-observation.

An example of one of my efforts attempting to observe myself through the lens of the carriage, the horse, and the coachman was while taking a long walk around my neighborhood. As I walked I observed that the coachman (my thoughts) seemed to direct the energy of the horse to move the carriage (my body) along the designated route. The driver had an awareness of the coach through the sensations that emanated as the result of the coach’s movements.  My body spoke in the language of sensations—sensations that my thoughts interpreted as, either appropriate or inappropriate reactions to the efforts of movement.  I noticed that my thoughts tended to worry or become concerned when the sensations of the body did not seem appropriate to the action of movement.

I wanted to notice the horse and its energy manifesting as feeling—feeling as distinct from the carriage’s language of sensation. With my house in sight I mounted the narrow timber that bridged a little stream in the greenway that divides my street. I observed that my thoughts—the coachman—needed to keep a closer rein on the horse and stay more attentive with regard to balance. I had decided that I would continue my exercise of self-observation until I passed through the door of my house.

But as s I stepped off the timber I saw my neighbor standing in the street looking at her front yard. I said hello as I approached and then became engaged in a conversation about her landscaping. My effort at self-observation disappeared and I did not remember again until sometime later. Had a different passenger gotten in the carriage when I saw my neighbor? Had seeing my neighbor affected the coachman or the horse? Had I fallen asleep?

Meditation offered another occasion for my study. My technique was to sit without movement and for fifteen minutes inwardly repeat Meher Baba’s name without allowing my thoughts to wander into the past or the future, or to get involved with solving problems or answering questions. I wanted to keep my thoughts focused on Meher Baba’s name and maintain an awareness of my body to keep my mind rooted in the present.

Meditation is not new to me and my body—the coach—remains quite still during the exercise. Also, inwardly repeating Meher Baba’s name for the designated time is not too difficult—provided I do not become too involved with other thoughts. But the thoughts—the coachman—cannot be controlled beyond a certain point and has the ability to continue to think other thoughts simultaneously while remembering to repeat Meher Baba’s name. I observe that there is a very different quality—state?—when I am able to keep my thoughts from wandering. I wonder, when they wander is that an example of the coachman falling asleep and dreaming?

My efforts have led me to these observations, and more, and as a result have led me to new and deeper questions regarding the natures and functioning of the carriage, the horse, the coachman, and the passenger(s). I hope to explore these questions in the light of continuing efforts to self-observe in subsequent posts.

(To be continued.)

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home