Welcome and thank you for being here. Each post on this blog may stand alone as a contemplation. Yet, if you have not already done so, I suggest beginning with Chapter 1 and reading onwards to the most recent post. In this way the context of the journey will be more complete.
Before Omar came to us we were two women and three horses with a somewhat inconsistent history. At times it seemed as though we were open to the flow of wisdom from the universe. At other times it seemed our actions were confused, contracted and greatly fear based. The long journey toward understanding the difference was a sacred path that Omar’s wisdom helped us travel.
We never would have ended up with horses if we hadn’t been tempted to move to Indiana. Our love for the children we were caring for caused us to consider the idea when we learned their family was moving. But we could not imagine being away from the expansive consciousness available in Northern California. One day, Alani said she would be willing to move if we had a horse. Yes, she could live in Indiana, she said, if she had a horse as a touchstone for the Real. I must say this caught me by surprise. Alani had never mentioned horses before in our many years together. She had been studying with Pir Zia, The Sufi Master, Hazrat Inayat Khan’s grandson, for two years, so it seemed natural to her to offer the decision up to a higher wisdom. She opened one of Inayat Khan’s eighteen 600 page volumes of spiritual discourse at random and put her thumb on this passage…”and then he told the young man who had once been rich but now was reduced to being a groom for horses in a stables to go to a certain city where he would become a horse trainer to wealthy people…” To say the least we were struck dumb. The books were about spiritual topics, not horses. The word horse was hardly mentioned anywhere in thousands of pages of dialog. And yet, when we asked whether we should get horses and opened to a random passage, this is the one that we saw. Needless to say, after that, we were willing to take the plunge.
One would think that Omar would have appeared immediately. Not so. Alani had fallen in love with an utterly beautiful bay mare she had seen on the internet and no amount of reasonable prudence had any effect on her determination to buy her. But this mare had a little herd of her own, and they would be orphans without her. Couldn’t we take them all, the owners pleaded. Having no experience with horses, and by now caught in a whirlwind of emotions and expectations, we agreed.
So one sunny day three very frightened Tennessee Walkers emerged from a thirteen hour trailer ride into a tiny corral at a boarding facility greeted by their new owners, us. Needless to say the Indiana trip had disappeared as the mirage it was, but we still had our horses. The next few days and months were spent doing all the wrong things since we didn’t know any of the right things. But we were marvelously happy and loved them dearly. In fact, my heart was so heavy at not being able to live with them and spend more time with them, that we ended up leaving our apartment in Silicon Valley, moving to the country and living in an RV, which we parked next to the corral where we could see them from our bedroom window and watch them from the patio we constructed under the lush pepper trees that shaded their enclosure. We were in heaven. They were the greatest, most heart-centered, loving, amazing beings we had ever encountered, and we spent hours brushing them, lying down with them when they lay down, having picnics in their corral, meditating with them and, in general, treating them like the great friends they were becoming.
There were only a few glitches. They were virtually untrained, frequently anxious, terrified and occasionally dangerous. We knew this. Yoshi had often spooked when we rode her, and Alani had broken her shoulder on one of these spooks when the saddle girth loosened and the saddle came off. But we had beginner’s faith in our ability to learn. So we read books, talked to horse people, went to trainers and were slowly getting the idea about what horses needed from us to feel safe and to be connected and loving companions.
But, no matter what we did, Yoshi’s anxiety remained and grew. At last we decided this crisis could not be solved by a human being. We would turn to a horse being. We would get Yoshi a new head of the herd who would take over the great burden she was taking on of trying to keep her inexperienced youngsters safe as herd mama. We would find a great, kind, wise horse for Yoshi.
In the end we did. That is how Omar came to us. He never overtly took over as head of the herd. He always seemed (at least in Yoshi’s eyes) to remain second in command. However, he let Yoshi know he had her back and she became more relaxed and more embodied. But what became evident from the first was what Yoshi did for Omar. Yoshi is all heart. Every fiber of her being radiates love. And she became Omar’s battery. He always stood with her, head to tail, recharging with her love.
And this is the mystery. Omar did not come to us first, Yoshi and her brood did. Was it a circle closing when Omar came? Were the energies completed by his presence and her love? And what part did our crazy, irrational willingness to give up everything, to do all the wrong things, play in all this? Our willingness to bring four horses into our lives made no sense on so many levels. And yet, on the one level that matters the most, it did.
Looked at from the outside our decision was crazy. Financially, it was far beyond our caregiver’s salary. Living in the city was not appropriate for horses, and the move to the country cost us a three hour daily commute in rush hour traffic. We were hardly horsemen and suffered from our ignorance as Alani’s broken shoulder attested. Yet, we were implacable in our desire. And not content with three, we added a fourth. The entire process seemed unhinged from reality.
Looking back, remembering the feeling with which we made these decisions, I sense two different energetic strains at work. Each of these strains had a very different quality. Like many of us, there are times that Alani and I are captured by an almost unbearable internal stress and anxiety. Ultimately, this is the ego’s response to the lack of control we have over events and our innate fear that things will go wrong if we can’t control them. This leads to a constant internal monitoring and thinking, thinking, thinking about our situation, creating concepts and developing mental patterns about what’s going on and how to make it better. We became distracted and separated from our true experience and unable to see clearly and recognize the truth that having horses will not answer this deep inner yearning for something that the mind cannot provide.
For awhile, however, the distraction was successful. Our ability to believe in a happy future of bliss with horses kept the voices at bay for a time. Whenever they got too close we just filled our mind with the happy future and we felt better. Ultimately it was unsuccessful. But, when it faltered we just doubled down on the myth and day dreamed about how good it would be once we were all together, living in the country with our dear equine friends, and could spend even more time with them.
But there was also another energy at work in our decisions. And we could also feel that contrasting quality at times. This was an open, soft, relaxed knowing, very different from the forced, contracted, relentless compulsion that often controlled our actions. This energy also led to decisions and action, but of a very different sort. In this process we were free from the contractions of mind and heart that propelled us to distract our minds from our anxiety with plans for the future and distorted ideas of the present. We relaxed deeply into just what is, and felt the space around us as alive and conscious and free. And from that space came a soft breeze of knowing that propelled our actions. And, from that place, Alani answered an ad for a black horse and Omar came to us.
Much of the teaching Omar imparted involves the ability to know the difference between these two energies. To make decisions based on this alive and open space, free from contraction. Becoming sensitive to the quality of his energy helped us to sense the presence of contraction in our reactions and intentions and to step back from it. At the very least, if we could not free ourselves from this compulsive energy, to be aware of it as it grips us and determines our actions, and to allow it to be infused with an awareness of what is happening that, in itself, changes everything.
I am not sorry that we were, at times, so helpless against this contracted, compulsive energy. Seeing it in action has taught us so much about our unthinking response to life. And, through it all, the connection with a deeper, more alive knowing has steered us toward the right track. We ultimately did move to live next to our four horses. We did throw caution to the winds and acquire more horses than we could handle. We followed some half-understood wisdom that brought us Omar and the beginning of a relationship with a being that transformed our relationship to ourselves and to life. And for this naive responsiveness to something still only half understood we are eternally grateful.
As I think over this story of Omar’s coming and how we were led to it, a few reflections come to me, reflections about this limited, contracted mind, and the vastness of the unconditioned mind. To me, our journey of initially choosing a path with horses, or more precisely, of allowing it to choose us, midlife, with no prior experience, wasn’t a path created by the compulsive, contracted mind, what the Buddhists have called conditioned mind. This conditioned mind creates a categorized slot for everything in order to feign safety, and even, once in a while, to produce short term happiness, which it always sells as lasting. It creates a world based on its preprogrammed ideas. It operates from what it knows, and what fits into the self-identity it has spent years finely crafting. In thinking about it, this path we embarked upon with horses feels more like the path of meditation – a dive into unknown terrain. It is a lot like the messy and sacred journey of the waking up of Consciousness – a path carved out by the power of the seed intention of the soul. That is why there is a bottomless stream of trust in and surrender to the process.
This is not to say that the conditioned mind did not jump in often and persuasively along the way. It is also not to say that the conditioned mind is devoid of wisdom, for if it is seen and held within the vastness of the unconditioned mind, how could it be absent of wisdom? Along the way, with the horses, these two minds danced and dueled often. Yet, each flow of action which came from conditioned mind was accompanied by an anxiety or a contraction which was either on the surface or buried beneath it. In contrast, there was a distinctive quality of presence in the unconditioned mind: pristine, real, and vitally alive and intimate. It is, after all, essentially who we are.
By this time on our journey, Alani and I had embraced a life stance of offering ourselves as fully as we could to the evolution of consciousness, however it wanted to manifest through us. That was our internal compass. We were seeking a path carved out by the power of this seed intention of the soul. That is why when the seemingly obscure desire to have a horse appeared in Alani’s heart, it was looked at with the glance of deep discernment and an honoring given to the signposts that appeared along the way.
Reflecting on the events that culminated in Omar’s arrival, I glimpse their perfection and their mystery. If these events had not been created as bi-products in this experiment of consciousness, if conditioned mind and unconditioned mind had not danced together in the vast laboratory of the soul’s pure intention, the results would have been different, I am certain. Our intention of surrender to the evolution of consciousness charged the path with great magnetism. Omar rode that wave of intention as a surrendered, yet focused ray of light. Once a great Being comes into your world with such magnetism, and such intense and essential light, dying to the old is inevitable, and so is resurrection to the Real.