The Worst Horse As the Best Horse
- In his classic book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki introduced - along with the very concepts of Zen, Buddhism, and meditation -- Buddhism's very helpful analogy of The Worst Horse:
"The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver's will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones. You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run!"
Suzuki Roshi goes on to say that, when it comes to Buddhist practice, it may not be such a bad thing to be "the worst horse." After all, the best horses have the least to gain: they're already the best. The so-called worst horses, on the other hand, will undergo the most transformation, the most improvement, if they stick with it: "In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind. [ . . . ] So I think that sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be the best one."