TEN OXHERDER IMAGES: NO. 6 – RIDING THE BULL HOME

TAMING THE WILD OX

Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen Master Kakuan, China, 12th C.

Ox6

6. Riding the Bull Home*

Mounting the bull, slowly I return homeward.
The voice of my flute intones through the evening.
Measuring with hand-beats the pulsating harmony,
I direct the endless rhythm.
Whoever hears this melody will join me.

Comment: This struggle is over;
gain and loss are assimilated.
I sing the song of the village woodsman,
and play the tunes of the children.
Astride the bull, I observe the clouds above.
Onward I go, no matter who may wish to call me back.

In this image the boy rides the ox. The metaphor indicates a meditator who has dominion over her own mind.  The mind, with all its capacity to remember, analyse and comprehend, is a marvellous tool for the consciousness. If the mind yields to the Essence, our capacity to comprehend the beauty and magnificence of this world and all worlds is beyond amazing.  No longer trapped in the battle of the opposites: good, bad, accept, reject, like, dislike… we revel in the eternal “now.”

The interesting thing is…this is only image 6 of 10 images.  With this ecstasy, this harmony with the universe, what else could we be wishing to obtain through meditation?  Stay tuned for our next post.

There are mysteries and mysteries.

Helen

Source:  *Translation by:  Paul Reps in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1989.

From:  http://www.4peaks.com/ppox.htm – source

TEN OXHERDER IMAGES: NO. 5 – TAMING THE BULL

TAMING THE WILD OX

Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen Master Kakuan, China, 12th C. 

Image

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.

Happiness.

Helen

Source:  *Translation by:  Paul Reps in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1989.

From:  http://www.4peaks.com/ppox.htm – source

TEN OXHERDER IMAGES: NO. 4 – CATCHING THE BULL

Taming the Wild Ox

Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen Master Kakuan, China, 12th C.

Image

4. Catching the Bull*

I seize him with a terrific struggle.
His great will and power are inexhaustible.
He charges to the high plateau far above the cloud-mists,
Or in an impenetrable ravine he stands.

Comment: He dwelt in the forest a long time,
but I caught him today!
Infatuation for scenery interferes with his direction.
Longing for sweeter grass, he wanders away.
His mind still is stubborn and unbridled.
If I wish him to submit,
I must raise my whip.

The more that we persist.  The more that we know.  The more that we develop the will of our free consciousness.  The less our conditioned mind will have control over us.

Eternal peace.

Helen

Source:  *Translation by:  Paul Reps in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1989.

From:  http://www.4peaks.com/ppox.htm – source

TEN OXHERDER IMAGES: NO. 3 – PERCEIVING THE BULL

TEN OXHERDER IMAGES: NO. 3 – PERCEIVING THE BULL

Taming the Wild Ox
Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen Master Kakuan, China, 12th C. 

 

Image

3. Perceiving the Bull*

I hear the song of the nightingale. 
The sun is warm, the wind is mild, 
willows are green along the shore, 
Here no bull can hide! 
What artist can draw that massive head, 
those majestic horns? 

Comment: When one hears the voice, 
one can sense its source. 
As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters one sees the head of the bull! 
This unity is like salt in water, like color in dyestuff. 
The slightest thing is not apart from self.

 

At a certain point in our meditation and in our awakening, we begin to watch the mind and we become aware of our consciousness, our Essence, our Being – doing the watching.  We are both everything we know, and its source.  This starts in glimpses.  This is what we call a moment of Self-Remembering.

Helen

Source:  *Translation by:  Paul Reps in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1989.

From:  http://www.4peaks.com/ppox.htm – source

 

 

Ten Oxherder Images: No. 2 – Discovering the Footprints

Taming the Wild Ox
Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen Master Kakuan, China, 12th C. 

 

Image

2. Discovering the footprints*

Along the riverbank under the trees, 
I discover footprints! 
Even under the fragrant grass I see his prints. 
Deep in remote mountains they are found. 
These traces no more can be hidden than one’s nose, 
looking heavenward. 

Comment: Understanding the teaching, 
I see the footprints of the bull. 
Then I learn that, 
just as many utensils are made from one metal, 
so too are myriad entities made of the fabric of self. 
Unless I discriminate, 
how will I perceive the true from the untrue? 
Not yet having entered the gate, nevertheless I have discerned the path.

In the very observation of our busy mind, we begin to know the nature of ourselves – although we still feel relatively lost.  

Enjoy.  Helen

Source:  *Translation by:  Paul Reps in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1989.

From:  http://www.4peaks.com/ppox.htm – source

Ten Oxherding Pictures: No. 1 – Search for the Bull

Taming the Wild Ox
Ten Oxherding Pictures, by Zen Master Kakuan, China, 12th C. 

These oxherder images provide a beautiful metaphor for the experience of a practitioner of meditation.  The original images and a translated version of each of the associated 12th century poems will be provided in the next 10 posts.  These will be followed by a short commentary by me – inspired by the gnostic work I’ve done over the years.  

Image

1. The Search for the Bull*

In the pasture of this world, 
I endlessly push aside the tall grasses in search of the bull.
Following unnamed rivers, 
lost upon the interpenetrating paths of distant mountains,
My strength failing and my vitality exhausted, 
I cannot find the bull.
I only hear the locusts chirring through the forest at night.

Comment: The bull never has been lost. 
What need is there to search? 
Only because of separation from my true nature, 
I fail to find him. 
In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks.
Far from home, I see many crossroads, 
but which way is the right one I know not. 
Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.

In the first of this 10 image series we see a boy, searching for his ox. We could say, in our “sleeping” state of consciousness we have lost our connection to our own Being, our spiritual nature; our mind has wandered off, trapped in the relativity and duality of life. The ox can represent the mind or the Being in these images. The four elements are in within this image:  water, air, earth (rocks), fire (the boy and the leaves – life force). We live in a world of natural laws. But in this world we can find ourselves, our own mind and emotions, out of our control.

Can we relate to this boy? Perhaps when we sit in meditation our mind chatters no matter which practice of concentration we choose. Our habitual thinking, negative emotions and strings of associated thoughts may keep us preoccupied. Make us question the value of meditation. What is the point? Where is the tranquility? We may find it exhausting and want to stop.

The image and poetry are beautiful. As a practice we could view the image and read the poem. Then, while sitting in “non-thinking,” allow the art to inspire us. We can let our intuition apprehend the meaning rather than the rational mind.

Happiness.  Helen

Source:

*Translation by:  Paul Reps in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, 1989.

From:  http://www.4peaks.com/ppox.htm – source

 

Identification, fascination and sleep

In our meditation, we find a thought crosses our mind, and before we know it, we have forgotten we are meditating and we are busy thinking.  We’ve forgotten to count our breaths, or to stay in the moment, or to separate ourselves into observer and observed. The process usually starts with a thought that captures our attention.  We would say that we become “identified” in other words our identity is lost, for a moment, in the thought.  We become the thought.  If we don’t immediately catch ourselves, we will start to elaborate on the thought because we find it fascinating.  Before too long, we are completely lost, or as we would say, the consciousness has gone to sleep.  We are no longer aware of what we are doing.  One thought leads to another in a long string of associated thoughts and the awareness of our practice is gone.  Its gone until something give us a conscious shock – perhaps a bell, or a nodding off, or another thought about the practice comes along.

Below is another excerpt from a talk by Samael Aun Weor which describes how this phenomena not only happens in meditation, but in our daily life.  We often walk around with our consciousness relatively asleep, due to identification and fascination.

The practice of paying attention to Subject, Object and Location, described below, can help us to stay in the moment and not get lost in identification, fascination and sleep of the consciousness, either in meditation, or in our daily life.

I hope this is helpful.

Happiness.  Helen

“CONSCIOUS ATTENTION excludes that which is called IDENTIFICATION. When we identify ourselves with persons, with things, with ideas, FASCINATION arrives and the latter produces the SLEEP of CONSCIOUSNESS.

We must know how to pay attention without identification. When we pay attention to something or someone and we forget ourselves, the result is FASCINATION and the SLEEP of the CONSCIOUSNESS.

Carefully observe a movie goer.

He is asleep, he ignores everything, he ignores himself, he is hollow. He seems to be a somnambulist. He dreams with the movie that he is watching, he dreams with the hero of the movie.

Attention divided into three parts: SUBJECT, OBJECT and PLACE, is in fact, CONSCIOUS ATTENTION.

When we do not commit the error of identifying ourselves with persons, with things or ideas, we save creative energy and we precipitate in ourselves the awakening of Consciousness.

The man who forgets himself before a person who insults him, identifies himself with him, he becomes fascinated, he falls into the sleep of unconsciousness and then he hurts or kills and inevitably goes to prison.

He who does not let himself be FASCINATED with the person who insults him, he who does not identify himself with him, who does not forget himself, and who knows how to pay CONSCIOUS ATTENTION, would be incapable of giving any importance to the words of the insulter, or would be incapable of wounding or killing.

All the errors that the human being commits in life are due to forgetting himself, to becoming identified, becoming fascinated and falling into sleep.

We have to awaken, friends, and learn to live alert from moment to moment, from instant to instant.

The action of always dividing attention into three parts cannot be delayed.

First: SUBJECT          Second: OBJECT        Third: LOCATION

SUBJECT:  Do not forget ourselves. Watch ourselves at each second, at each moment. This implies a state of alertness in relation to our thoughts, gestures, actions, emotions, habits, words and so on.

OBJECT:  Minute observation of all those objects or representations that reach the mind through the senses.  Never become identified with things, because in this manner one falls into fascination and into the sleep of the Consciousness.

LOCATION:  Daily observation of our house, of our bedroom, as if it was something new; asking ourselves daily: Why have I arrived at this place? At this market? In this office? In this temple? etc., etc.

“This triple set of attention is then a complete exercise to auto-discover ourselves and to awaken consciousness.”