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The Tale of Four Kinds of Horses

The tale of the four horses holds valuable lessons for us all, transcending time and space.

The story of the Four Kinds of Horses is not directly attributed to the Buddha himself, but it is a well-known Buddhist teaching that has been passed down through the tradition. As such, there is no specific quote from the Buddha regarding this story. However, the essence of the story aligns with several key teachings of the Buddha.

The Buddha emphasized the importance of taming the mind and achieving inner peace. He taught that our minds can be like wild horses, constantly running after desires, fears, and distractions. Through meditation and mindfulness practices, we can calm and train our minds, leading to greater clarity, wisdom, and liberation from suffering.

The Buddha also emphasized the need to let go of fixed views and attachments. He encouraged his followers to be open-minded and willing to question their beliefs. This teaching is reflected in the second horse, symbolizing stubbornness and attachment to opinions. By cultivating a flexible and open attitude, we can expand our understanding and grow in wisdom.

Furthermore, the Buddha emphasized the practice of mindfulness, which involves being fully present and attentive to the present moment. This teaching resonates with the third horse, representing a distracted and unfocused mind. The Buddha taught that through mindfulness, we can develop a deep understanding of ourselves and the world around us, leading to clarity and insight.

While the specific words of the Buddha regarding the Four Kinds of Horses may not be recorded, the teachings associated with the story are in alignment with the core principles taught by the Buddha. The story serves as a metaphorical tool to convey these teachings and inspire practitioners on their spiritual path.


The first horse is wild and untamed. It symbolizes a mind that is easily agitated, restless, and uncontrollable. Like a wild stallion, it resists any attempt to rein it in. It teaches us the importance of calming our restless minds and cultivating inner peace.

The second horse is stubborn and obstinate. It symbolizes a mind that is deeply attached to its own opinions and beliefs, unwilling to explore new perspectives. Like a stubborn mule, it resists any guidance or change. This horse reminds us of the need to cultivate openness and a willingness to embrace different viewpoints.

The third horse is easily distracted and lacks focus. It symbolizes a mind that constantly wanders, jumping from one thought to another. Like a curious foal, it is easily swayed by external influences. This horse teaches us the value of mindfulness and concentration, allowing us to stay present and focused in our daily lives.

The fourth horse is calm, disciplined, and attentive. It symbolizes a mind that is steady, balanced, and free from distractions. Like a well-trained steed, it responds gracefully to the rider's guidance. This horse represents the ideal state of mind we strive to achieve through our Buddhist practice—a mind that is peaceful, wise, and compassionate.

Reflecting on the four kinds of horses, we can draw meaningful parallels to our own lives. Are we easily agitated by external circumstances? Are we stubbornly holding onto fixed ideas? Are we constantly distracted and unable to focus? Or are we cultivating a calm, disciplined, and attentive mind?

Let us embrace the teachings of this ancient parable and strive to be like the fourth horse. May we cultivate mindfulness, wisdom, and compassion, nurturing the qualities that bring peace and harmony to our lives and the world around us.

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About Andrew

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At the age 17, through the guidance of his older brother Chris, he discovered the path of Buddhism. His journey with the practice has taken him across oceans and deep within himself. As a Zen bodhisattva, he works towards helping others find their own path without reward.

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