Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Lot of Bull

The running of the bulls reminded me of the 10 Ox Herding Pictures. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the website where I found these; where there is a lot of other Zen related information.

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Right: The door to the outer garden,Himeji, Japan

10 Ox Herding Pictures

Around 800AD Zen teachers started using Ox herding pictures to explain the way of controlling the mind until enlightenment. There are many variations, but the standard version (below) is well accepted often seen in Zen art and literature. It is sometime explain in accompanying literature, but this perhaps it is better read, visualized and thought about several times before commentary puts fixed ideas in your head.

1. UndisciplinedWith his horns fiercely projected in the air the beast snorts,Madly running over the mountain paths, farther and farther he goes astray!A dark cloud is spread across the entrance of the valley,And who knows how much of the fine fresh herb is trampled under his wild hoofs!

2. Discipline BegunI am in possession of a straw rope,and I pass it through his nose,For once he makes a frantic attempt to run away, but he is severely whipped and whipped;The beast resists the training with all the power there is in a nature wild and ungoverned,But the rustic ox herd never relaxes his pulling tether and ever-ready whip.

3. In HarnessGradually getting into harness the beast is now content to be led by the nose,Crossing the stream, walking along the mountain path, he follows every step of the leader;The leader holds the rope tightly in his hand never letting it go,All day long he is on the alert almost unconscious of what fatigue is.

4. Faced RoundAfter long days of training the result begins to tell and the beast is faced round,A nature so wild and ungoverned is finally broken, he has become gentler;But the tender has not yet given him his full confidence,He still keeps his straw rope with which the ox is now tied to a tree.

5. TamedUnder the green willow tree and by the ancient mountain stream,The ox is set at liberty to pursue his own pleasures;At the eventide when a grey mist descends on the pasture,The boy wends his homeward way with the animal quietly following.

6. UnimpededOn the verdant field the beast contentedly lies idling his time away,No whip is needed now, nor any kind of restraint;The boy too sits leisurely under the pine tree,Playing a tune of peace, overflowing with joy.

7. Laissez FaireThe spring stream in the evening sun flowslanguidly along the willow-lined bank,In the hazy atmosphere the meadow grass is seen growing thick;When hungry he grazes,when thirsty he quaffs,as time sweetly slides,While the boy on the rock dozes for hours not noticing anything that goes on about him.

8. All ForgottenThe beast all in white now is surrounded by the white clouds,The man is perfectly at his ease and care-free, so is his companion;The white clouds penetrated by the moon-light cast their white shadows below,The white clouds and the bright moonlighteach following its course of movement.

9. The Solitary MoonNowhere is the beast, and the ox herd is master of his time,He is a solitary cloud wafting lightlyalong the mountain peaks;Clapping his hands he sings joyfully in the moon-light,But remember a last wall is still left barring his homeward walk.

10. Both VanishedBoth the man and the animal have disappeared,no traces are left,The bright moon-light is empty and shadowless with all the ten-thousand objects in it;If anyone should ask the meaning of this,Behold the lilies of the field and its fresh sweet-scented verdure.

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