Chogyam Trungpa’s Saddle Analogy

I just love this passage from Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery by Chogyam Trungpa.  To arrive at this place he describes, within one’s self, must be to arrive at a place of deep, deep peace.      

“In the saddle, as long as you have good posture and a good seat, you can overcome any startling or unexpected moves your horse makes.  So the idea of the saddle is taking a good seat in your life.  

You belong here.  You are one of the warriors in this world.  So even if unexpected things happen, good or bad, right or wrong, you don’t exaggerate them.  You come back to your seat in the saddle and maintain your posture in the situation.  

The warrior is never amazed by anything.  If someone comes up to you and says ‘I’m going to kill you right now’, you are not amazed.  If someone says they are going to give you a million dollars, you think ‘so what’.  

Assuming your seat in the saddle at this level is achieving inscrutability, in the positive sense.  It is also taking your seat on the earth.

Once you take your seat on the earth, you don’t need witnesses to validate you.”

– Chogyam Trungpa



Quote by Matt Licata

Enter deeply into your neurosis, your anxiety, your panic, your confusion, your suffering, and your fear – get to know it’s textures, qualities and fragrances, and allow it to take you into the secret chamber buried inside your own body.  For within the mandala of tender ripe aliveness there are jewels beyond the mind.  – Matt Licata

The Encounter

I stood in a glass house at the edge of the sea.

I watched as the tide rose, gradually swallowing the house, waves breaking against glass walls, and over the glass roof, booming, rattling, trembling.

Seaweed, rocks, shells, too many fish to count, so many colors.

Then came the crabs, starfish, anemones, cephalopods, sliding, clicking across the transparent roof, pressed up against the glass.

Then came the sea turtles, their old tough shells cracking the glass as the force of the sea slammed them against it.  The house was completely underwater now, and water began to seep through the cracks with mounting pressure.

My blood lurched through the veins in my neck.  I thought of running wildly from room to room, but just found myself standing perfectly still. 

I saw the small dark shape of a whale on the underwater horizon, the fluid border of sight.  I tried to blink it away, but it was still there, and it was coming. 

It swept nearer, loomed closer, until it filled my vision completely.  The transparent house was outside the whale’s awareness, so on it came, about to collide into the glass I stood behind. 

Friends, this is how it is to die and be reborn.

This is how it is, returning from the death of your animal nature.

Just Know

Just know that you are the master of the singing bowl, the viscous ripples in the air, the temple in the clouds and mist.  Know you are the heart that leads the way, the swan who dives, the moon in May.

Just know you are the artist, the canvas, the muse.  Know you are the bomb, the flame, the fuse.  Know you are the axis of an exchange between many sides of Self, the sides being at times parallel and at times perpendicular.

Please be contemplative and not complacent.  Please don’t fall back into old ways unless the old ways are better – in that case, return to the Old Ways.  Please don’t descend upon new things in too much of a hurry.  Consider, savor, examine, turn things over and over until you have tired of the contents of your mind and it’s time to empty it and practice letting go.

Just know you could set everything aside and transmit love, broadcast joy, illuminate.  Just know that I love you the way I love the lumbering grace of knowledgeable bears, the way sunflowers turn their heads, the way cats land on their feet.  Just know I love you the way I loved the world when it broke open in me, and I broke open in it, and we turned in on ourselves and became tangled up in all the phosphorescent splendor and all the damage done.

Just know it’s only fear that comes with change and rattles your life to its outermost edge, even as courage comes with its broad brushstroke and wakes all that is sleeping.






The shallows of our lives flicker with danger and bursts of quivering light.

We work and work to rise from the deep, shake water from our wings,

congregate and take flight.

We Cannot Wait

We cannot wait for things to be different, for things to be perfect, for things to meet our requirements.  We cannot wait for everyone’s approval.  We cannot wait for the certainty that everyone will like what we have to say.

We cannot wait for ourselves to feel less afraid.  We cannot wait for the coast to be clear before we step outside, because the coast will never be clear.  We have to take the risk.  We will be criticized, misunderstood.  Still, we cannot wait.

Transformation means loosening our grip until we let go completely.



Some say I look like a walrus

with my faded apricot shirt and untrimmed moustache,

but here’s the thing:

never has my mind been filled to such an overflowing

with such an uncountable number of things

flickering through me at an untraceable speed,

equal only in their ranking

as items of stunning insignificance.

In any case,

I’ll meet you at the corner of Vanity and Age,

where the brushstrokes of dawn dress casually

and a lone star stands, unobtrusive,

before taking its last drag off the night

and flicking the roach away

to the opposite curb of the world.

And me, spilling out onto the street with two Mary’s –

one bloody, one virgin, singing:

Goddess Pele, purify me with your volcano fire.

Help me remember to see and embrace

what is before me,

and not search too hard for what isn’t.

Help me to not strain my eyes

trying to look too far ahead,

not stare back behind me for too long,

hypnotized by what has passed,

mesmerized by the highway lines.

May I be like the cat

who practices heliotropism so effectively,

who lounges and, smiling, is ever hopeful

about his next meal.

May I not get so tangled in thought and emotion

that I bind myself.

May I honor desires, dreams, fears.

May I remember things are just what they are,

on either side of any hill,

and that there are no sides,

no hills.