Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Entering the Marketplace

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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Both Ox and Self Forgotten

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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Ox Forgotten, Self Alone

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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Riding the Ox Home

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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Taming the Ox

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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Catching 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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: First Glimpse of 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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Finding the Tracks

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

Buddhism

Ox Herding Pictures: Seeking the Ox

Desolate through forests and fearful in jungles,  he is seeking an Ox which he does not find. Up and down dark, nameless, wide-flowing rivers,  in deep mountain thickets he treads many bypaths. Bone-tired, heart-weary, he carries on his search  for this something which he yet cannot find. At evening he hears cicadas chirping in the… Continue reading Ox Herding Pictures: Seeking the Ox

Buddhism

Zen Ox Herding Pictures: Introduction

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

Book Reviews · Buddhism

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: Book Review

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones is a collection of stories, parables and utterances designed to inspire and teach the dharma. The stories were collected together by Paul Reps who says of the book: “Old Zen was so fresh it became treasured and remembered. Here are fragments of its skin, flesh, bones, but not its marrow –… Continue reading Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: Book Review