Heading Home

The horse I am riding, an older Appaloosa named Denver, has a mind of his own—and a voracious appetite. He is happy to be a partner on the trail until tasty bit of grass gets his attention, and then there is no moving him until his taste buds are satisfied. We eventually continue down the trail until some other foliage tickles his fancy. When we arrive at our destination, he is left free of rein to graze. Happy horse.

Later, as we head home, I notice he is not much interested grazing. He knows where we are headed and makes his way in a steady trot. He grudgingly allows me to make the occasional nudge to slow down or veer gently one way or the other. But he is on a mission: heading home. Nothing else matters.

This was 60 years ago. I remember like it was yesterday because it was one of those events that reminded me of some basic teachings about life. I found myself laughing a lot with a recognition I only grew to know after I met the Buddha. But I realize even at 11 years old I saw things symbolically; a horse with great attachment and one who knew the way home, free of distracting attachments.

When our attachments become less of an encumbrance, we can see the way home—the way to liberation. I could trust Denver to take me back to the corral just like we can trust the Dharma to point us in the right direction—toward the natural home of pure awareness. We have to accommodate a bit of attachment along the way, pausing to eat and refresh ourselves. But it does not distract us from following the path.

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