I once had a teacher tell me that, when a horse pulls on a lead rope, to become a tree.
This meant a few things. I should be rooted and centered (not go flying off after the horse, but to “hold my ground”, in a way) and not to pull back on the horse. If the horse pulls, I just hold the rope but not pull or lean on it. So that when the horse stops pulling there is immediately some slack in that rope. If I pulled, I would consciously have to release the rope when the horse releases and my timing would be off. It would not be as fast as the instant release the horse would get if I simply held the rope. Even if that time difference is a mere few seconds – it makes a difference.
This concept came back to me in the form of a fence post while reading Zen Mind, Zen Horse by Hamilton MD, Allan J. On page 58 he wrote:
“For me, the fence post is the perfect symbol of impeccability because the post never gets angry or impatient. Many horsemen have pointed out that a fence post exerts pressure only when the horse exerts pressure upon it. It pulls back with precisely the amount of force the horse applies. If the horse relents the slightest bit – pulls a fraction of a gram less – the post “responds” and releases. It rewards the horse for his slightest attempt.
In its responses, the fence post represents total clarity, perfection and detachment. The simple fence post will therefore serve as our inspirational symbol of an impeccable teacher. The post’s responses are merely natural reflections of the horse’s actions. So, in a Zen-like fashion, we should endeavor to become fence posts and challenge ourselves to be as quiet, detached, and proficient as they are.”