There are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones. 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, 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 to run.
“When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse. If it is impossible to be the best
one, we want to be the second best.” But this is a mistake, when you learn too easily, you’re tempted not to work hard, not to penetrate to the marrow of a practice.
Culled from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi