The parable of the Coach is told in certain Eastern Traditions; Gurdjieff recounts it in Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous. But it is much older than this: It appears in the Katha Upanishad, which dates from perhaps 1500 BCE, which describes it as follows.
Know the Self as lord of the chariot,
The body as the chariot itself,
The discriminating intellect as charioteer,
And the mind as reins.
The senses, say the wise, are the horses;
Selfish desires are the roads they travel.
When the Self is confused with the body,
Mind, and senses, they point out, he seems To enjoy pleasure and suffer sorrow. (3:3)
The image is of a coach or carriage being pulled by two horses. The coachman sits atop the coach and, in the ideal case, the Master sits inside. The coach itself represents the physical body. The horses represent our feelings, sensations, passions and desires. The coachman represents our intellectual and reasoning facilities, the ego mind. The Master inside the coach represents our full consciousness and will; this aspect of ourselves directs the entire integrated ensemble: the coachman holds the reins, keeping the emotions in check, and drives the coach in the direction indicated by the Master.
In the actual case, however, the Master is missing; more accurately, the coachman can’t hear the Master; our ordinary consciousness is not aware that a Master even exists. Worse, the coach is breaking down from misuse. The horses are dirty and ill-kempt. The coachman is asleep most of the time and keeps dropping the reins. The coach is frequently diverted by some casual passerby who wants to go somewhere. Either that or the coach is off the road, careening down a dangerous slope. It pushes the horses from behind and they can’t hold it back. At the mercy of the steep, uneven slope, the coachman is in danger of falling off the carriage to his death.
How did the coach get into this miserable state? Perhaps it was a global cataclysm that occurred many thousands of years ago that resulted in the seemingly-permanent loss of contact with the Master within. We may never know. Whatever the reason, we have to deal with things as they stand today, and for this—and for the key to righting the coach and reinstalling the Master—we have an amazing model, an explicit road map to the recovery of our own coaches. It is the Tarot cards, specifically those twenty-two cards that comprise the Major Arcana or Trumps.
The sections provide a summary of the Tarot cards presented in a unique, operational sequence. Twelve of the cards are associated with the signs of the Zodiac and these are also indicated. Considerations of the origin of the Tarot and this particular sequence, as well as the deeper meanings of each card, are postponed in favor of first giving an overall look at the Fool’s journey which they describe.
The cards are divided into several groups, which allows their practical, operational meanings to be unlocked. For we are not interested in divination, fortune telling, heretical religious beliefs or anything of the sort that other authors write about. We are only interested in making the coach fit and causing the Master to return inside it.