Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finding a master

As I approached the horses today, Sundance was laying down and Patrik was in a restful pose. By the time I got close enough to take a picture though, I had entered Patrik's "space" and he was on his way to see me.

I've been thinking about the levels/circles/yin-yang models and what they fail to capture. Monica talked about NHE as an all-or-nothing endeavor and in many ways she's right. What keeps coming to me though is that none of these are really the things that are going to be of much use in helping us become part of the new consciousness we're searching for. They are pleasant enough distractions to sink our minds into, but I can't see how they are leading us closer to the shift. That's probably what all of you have been trying to tell me anyway.

Yesterday I worked with JD over getting Sofi to come in for the night. It was a magical experience as I first watched what JD tried on his own, and then stepped in and guided him to work with her in a different way, which produced very quick and stunning results. Well, the results looked quick and stunning but actually they were the result of my 26 years with horses, traveling the world, meeting masters, and my state of being.

In a very similar way, I am guided by someone who has his own lifetime of experience with people and in a few moments he can completely change the course of someone's life through what looks like a simple process. There are no levels, models, or trying to teach over the internet. It is an ability to see what a person is manifesting in the moment and knowing the next move to take, like I was able to see in the moment what JD needed to do in order to come into a closer harmony with Sofi.

Nature has its way of ensuring that a seed has everything it needs to grow from one form to the next, that a blade of grass will regrow after being eaten, and an acorn will grow into an oak tree.

When we humans follow the guidance system that we have been born with, we too can put ourselves in the best place to assure that this shift can happen. It's like being a flower seed placed in the bed of a master gardener. Our guidance systems can help us recognize someone who has already made that shift and it can help us to realize our need to seek his or her help. When this happens, the process changes from the long struggle of trial and error (a flower seed tossed into a parking lot) into a beautiful opportunity to be the recipient of the fruits of a life's labors. No longer are we caterpillars eating leaves day after day, we are shown how to shed our last skin, to sit within our chrysalis, and then the nature within works its miracle and we can emerge into the new state of being.

So it seems to me that unless someone has already found this master, all efforts should be directed towards developing one's guidance system so that the master is recognized when he appears. For our purposes now, let's define a "master" as someone who has already made a shift into a new level of being within his or her field of expertise and is able to guide others to make this shift. I also want to stress the following point. In my opinion, to qualify as someone you can call a master, the person has to be somebody you have met in real life, and preferably someone who also knows you and that you have worked with and gotten to know over a period of time. If this criteria isn't met, then really all you have to go on are stories and imagination which cannot be read by a human's natural guidance system. When you are in a person's physical presence, the guidance system can work as nature intended.

For example, I recognized Alexander Nevzorov as a master because of how I saw his horses act with him and the ways he was able to achieve this relationship. Also, in having meals with him, interviewing and filming him, and being with some of his in-person students and family, I was able to give my guidance system time to determine if he really was operating from a different level or if he was just a "repackaged version" of old training methods such as I've seen most Natural Horsemanship trainers to be.

For now, let's not address the question of whether horses can be masters or not...that will be a good topic for another time.

I'm curious, how do you recognize a person who is a master in his or her field?

Let's hear from you!


  1. This post brings up a couple things for me. First, I personally find it more helpful to view our development as individuals and as a species as a process of evolution versus a "shift", which has an all or nothing feel to it. Either you've "shifted" or you haven't. There may be points along our evolutionary pathway that involve a paradigm change and therefore a "shift" in our way of being, but I don't personally find it helpful to view this in terms of a single threshold that you have either crossed or not.

    Even as we open to new ways of being in this world there is always room for more growth. It is also important that our spiritual growth is accompanied by psychological healing and growth. There are many people who seem to be "masters" in their respective fields, for example yoga or meditation, yet continue to be troubled in their "personal" affairs. We are all human with personal strengths and frailties. I think there is a danger in placing too much emphasis on finding a "Master". There is a tendency to either be blind to the person's shortcomings or to dismiss what they do have to offer because they are not perfect. Too much reverence for a human being can also lead to "cult" following behaviour, whereby we allow this person to ultimately dictate what we think and feel. At times, one can see manifestations of this in the different training methods for horses. A charismatic leader lures people in, they spend a ridiculous amount of money on special equipment and then shun any approach or view point that differs from that of their "tribe".

    My search for a "Master" keeps coming back to a message I received from Great Grey Owl, "Go within". I think highly evolved individuals can provide us with guidance in accessing the source of all wisdom, but ultimately we each walk a unique path with a unique soul purpose in this lifetime that we will never reach by following in someone else's shadow.

  2. I should add that one does not necessarily have to spend any money to be under the "spell" of a charismatic leader. I think insistence on unity of thought and behaviour, accompanied by intolerance for difference are warning signs to be aware of.

  3. I'm with Sandie.

    Here's what I really want to hear: a play-by-play account of what went on with you and JD and Sofi. Thanks!

  4. I too agree with Sandie. I don't think we should be closed to people who offer us support and guidance on our personal journies, but most of the work and thoughts should come from us. Maybe when we recognize someone as a "Master" it is partially because they can help us access the wisdom and strength that is within us already, and give us the courage to follow our soul's purpose.

  5. I am with June and Sandie; having been deeply involved in church hierarchy (the Episcopal Church) and considered ordained ministry, I've had multiple life lessons in how ALL humans have clay feet. It is perilous to put another person is that kind of authority over your own journey, whether it is a horse trainer or a religious leader or a political leader.
    Having said that, I do believe that people come in and out of our lives at opportune times, when we are ready for the particular wisdom they have to share. The danger lies in mistaking the messenger for the message. If you are open to change, willing to listen to what life is offering you, and fearless in facing reality, I believe the teacher will come--over and over, in many forms. I'm reading a book right now by Mary Rose O'Reilley, "The Love of Impermanent Things" and this quote seems relevant to this conversation--she is talking about the reasons she joined a convent at age 18, she is no longer a nun, but had this to say about the decision: "Young girls enter religious life for the same reason they get married, because they are in love. The love may be an illusion in both cases, but with luck you can learn something in the process of being flayed away from your erroneous notions. The soul gravitates to the lessons it needs to learn and it never makes mistakes."

  6. I, too, agree with June, Sadie and Hilary - Who gets to define, decide, who is a "Master" - public opinion? - just think of the mess of rollkur and what the judges are awarding and the FEI's capitulation of their own rules. Many think Anky tops.
    Just the word "master" makes me uncomfortable.

    "Believe nothing no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." - Buddha

    "We are not born all at once, but by bits. The body first, the spirit later." - M. Antin, 1912

    We all, I think, are doing a balancing act between our inward and outward journeys; our private and public selves; our need for self-actualization and community.

    And thinking in terms of what Thomas Sowell said, "It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance." This notion kinda makes us masters, but only of ourselves...and even that is dubious :)

  7. The challenge with the levels/circles/yin-yang models is how to make the invisible visible.
    Any model of the horse/human relations is only a portion of the truth.
    Because the nature of knowledge is evolutionary and must be updated, all theories of the horse/human relations are partial and incomplete.
    However, it does not negate the value of theoretical inquiry.

    I don't know Alexander Nevzorov personally, but I assume that he has found the balance of opposites
    WITHIN himself and this translates outwards into everything he does and who he is in relationship

  8. Well I understood this a bit differently. I thought it's more about what we need and what we get from our masters (or more like mentors?) and how they are able to guide us further. I dunno.

    My current "mentor" Noora uses her own version of this above mentioned Buddha quote, demanding everyone to listen to their own hearts all the time, no matter what she or anyone else is suggesting.

    Noora (Ehnqvist) has been able to show and explain so much about horses. She shines light and love, she is so present in the moment all the time and she has been most helpful in finding my own truth and helping out when I've felt lost or lonely.

    Still she is a human and standing on the same ground level as I am.

  9. Oh, and I also want to share these visual images of this path: At first I had my little garden that I thought was pretty nice. Then one day I look over my fence, and see that there is another, somewhat bigger garden. I expand my garden there. Then again one day I find my current gardens "walls" and look over, and find yet another, bigger garden with more beautiful flowers..

    So it is my garden, and all the old stuff is still there too.