I had been wondering for a long time how Epo-Na always knew my moods, and I had read in one of my many books on horses that one of the most famous écuyers of our times, Nuno Oliveira, had once said: ‘In front of the horse the human animal is naked’.
I kind of guessed what it meant, but I wanted to ask Epo-Na about it.
One of the younger stallions, a precocious foal in the throes of hormones, had tried to mount her, but with one kick she had sent him about his business. I knew that later on she would go to him and groom him, to let him know that she still loved him.
She was grazing in one of the fields with herbs rich in minerals to prepare for the coming snow.
‘Tell me more about the difference between looking and seeing’, I asked her, ‘and how you always know my moods’.
I tried one of the herbs she was chewing on. It had a slightly bitter taste.’ Good for the immunity system’, she commented, without raising her head.
‘Well? I asked.
‘You said once that you can see my magnetic field. I cannot see that. Do your eyes have a different structure?’
‘Our eyes have a different structure, ‘she answered, ‘but seeing is not done with the eyes. With the eyes you look, and you think, and you judge, and you read clever books so that you can feel clever too.’
She nudged me with a wicked smile in her eyes. She knew I had been doing exactly that.
‘ So in what way is looking different from seeing,’ I insisted. I was a little embarrassed because obviously something was eluding me.
Now she raised her head fully and looked at me.
‘That man, Nuno Oliveira, was right. I knew him well. He really loved horses, not for showing off, but because he was a little bit of a horse himself, and they knew that. Nobody could do with the horses what he could.’
I knew that was true. I had read several books about him.
‘Seeing’, Epo-Na continued, ‘is not done with the eyes. We talked about peripheral body-ing. Your whole body is one organ of perception: with your eyes you see some things, but not all; with your ears you hear some things, but not all; with your nose you smell some things, but not all; with your tongue you taste some things, but not all. But with your whole body, your skin, your guts, and specially your heart, you can see the all. I also told you that what gets in the way of bringing that all-ness to the surface is thinking; our ego and its own little corner of thinking, its sense of self-importance and the I-know-it-all-syndrome, called for short the IKIA syndrome. In order for the body, the heart, the guts, the skin, to perceive the world, the IKIA syndrome has to be put to the side, so that you can look at things as if you were seeing them for the first time. Then you can penetrate into things and see the real thing, not that which you project onto that thing, your judgement, your false sense of knowing or loving or hating, which all have to do with the image you have created in the past. It is the past that creates the IKIA syndrome, and then you cannot see the present.’
I remembered that many times people had told me that they loved me or disliked me, and I had always wondered whom they were talking about, as some of them hardly knew me. Their projection on me was usually totally off the mark and had nothing to do with the real me, only with my role that my work had pasted onto me.
‘We also discussed one day’, Epo-Na interrupted my thoughts ‘that in order to see you have to catch that moment in which the future flips over and becomes the past. That moment is actually not a moment at all, but rather a break, a crack in time. In that break, that crack of time, between the past and the future, that is where you ‘see’. It is a time-less act renewed from crack to crack, and with each crack it dies, as does the see-er. On the other hand, looking has to do with time, with continuing the past into the future, uninterrupted, with the continuation of the looker, creating what you call experience. But experience can play you false and prevent you from perceiving that Goodness, that Love, that is in all things, which is the Universe.’
She went back to grazing, and I sat for a long time in the grass next to her, watching her eat.
And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, I had the feeling of falling into an abyss, that same feeling that I had experienced when that young stallion had galloped away with me. As I watched Epo-Na graze, I was suddenly engulfed by a sense of love that had no object, no cause and no ‘me’. A love that exists only in the crack of time.
I shyly touched one of Epo-Na’s hoofs. She looked up long enough to spell a mouthful of grass on my head.