There’s a well-known Zen koan that begins with this question. Reams of words and scholastic papers have been written about Joshu’s Dog. The koan sounds like the start of a bad Buddhist joke: A monk asked Joshu, a Chinese Zen master: ‘Has a dog Buddha nature or not?’ Joshu answered: ‘Mu!’ ‘Mu’ means No-thing, but… Continue reading Does a Dog have Buddha Nature?
Bare-chested, barefooted, he comes into the marketplace. Muddied and dust-covered, how broadly he grins! Without recourse to mystic powers, withered trees he swiftly brings to bloom. The full title of this picture is sometimes Entering the Marketplace with Helping Hands and it represents the stage of the path where you’re ready to share your wisdom… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Entering the Marketplace
He has returned to the Origin, come back to the Source, but his steps have been taken in vain. It is as though he were now blind and deaf. Seated in his hut, he hankers not for things outside. Streams meander on of themselves, red flowers naturally bloom red. After dissolving into Oneness, the world returns.… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Returning to the Source
Whip, rope, Ox and man alike belong to Emptiness. So vast and infinite the azure sky that no concept of any sort can reach it, over a blazing fire a snowflake cannot survive. When this state of mind is realised comes at last comprehension of the spirit of the ancient Patriarchs. In earlier Ox Herding Pictures this was… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Both Ox and Self Forgotten
Only on the Ox was he able to come Home, But lo, the Ox is now vanished, and alone and serene sits the man. The red sun rides high in the sky as he dreams on placidly. Yonder beneath the thatched roof his idle whip and idle rope are lying. Now the ox vanishes. This picture is sometimes… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Ox Forgotten, Self Alone
Riding free as air he buoyantly comes home through evening mists in wide straw-hat and cape. Wherever he may go he creates a fresh breeze, while in his heart profound tranquillity prevails. This Ox requires not a blade of grass. Now you’re starting to get the hang of this awakening business – but don’t get… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Riding the Ox Home
He must hold the nose-rope tight and not allow the Ox to roam, lest off to muddy haunts it should stray. Properly tended, it becomes clean and gentle. Untethered, it willingly follows its master. You have successfully caught the ox of your Buddha nature, but there’s still work to be done. Discipline is still needed:… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Taming the Ox
He must tightly grasp the rope and not let it go, for the Ox still has unhealthy tendencies. Now it charges up to the highlands Now it loiters in a misty ravine. This stage of the path is all about discipline. You’ve finally discovered the truth about your Buddha Nature. It’s been hidden inside you… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Catching the Ox
A nightingale warbles on a twig, the sun shines on undulating willows. There stands the Ox, where could it hide? That splendid head, those stately horns, what artist could portray them? This is where you get a glimpse of the truth you’re seeking. It isn’t full enlightenment because you only see the tail of the… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: First Glimpse of the Ox
Innumerable footprints has he seen in the forest and along the water’s edge. Over yonder does he see the trampled grass? Even the deepest gorges of the topmost mountains can’t hide this Ox’s nose which reaches right to heaven. By asking the right questions you begin to sense there might be more to life than you… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Finding the Tracks
The ox herding pictures represent the process of awakening as described in Zen Buddhism. Each image is a metaphor that reveals the internal stages of meditation – how awakening looks from the inside. In this series we’ll look at each picture and explore what they mean, but first a bit of background. The original drawings… Continue reading Zen Ox Herding Pictures: Introduction
After a rough night and too many nightmares to count, I dragged myself downstairs to find the kettle and get some caffeine pulsing through my system, but instead found this – and it changed my outlook in a snap! So I wanted to share it with you… From Happiness is a State of Mind by… Continue reading Today can be a happy day!