TAMING THE WILD OX
Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen Master Kakuan, China, 12th C.
5. Taming the Bull*
The whip and rope are necessary,
Else he might stray off down some dusty road.
Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle.
Then, unfettered, he obeys his master.
Comment: When one thought arises,
another thought follows.
When the first thought springs from enlightenment,
all subsequent thoughts are true.
Through delusion, one makes everything untrue.
Delusion is not caused by objectivity;
it is the result of subjectivity.
Hold the nose-ring tight
and do not allow even a doubt.
With constant vigilance we maintain awareness, holding the rope of the mind and maintaining objectivity. Truth then sits before us. We can begin to accept it and even love it. Have we created something in our mind that is not in fact true? Are we believing what we have created? Do we have to be mad, sad, bored or blue? Do we have to be continuously pre-occupied with plans, worries, angst, etc. Perhaps we can discover at the base of it all we’re fine. If we have our thoughts and our beliefs within our conscious control we can experience truth, beyond the relativity of the subjective mind. Beyond the battle of the opposites.
Source: *Translation by: Paul Reps in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1989.