Zen - Study

The Ten Ox Herding Pictures

Note: Posting the 10 Ox Herding pictures here first, and add a commentary to the post later.

Here is a quote from the Theravadan monk Ajahn Sucitto:

“In Zen, the ox-herding images are emblematic of the Path. The person is searching for the ox, and sees its tracks. He is like a person looking for the mind, trying to realize an enlightened mind. He searches for the ox, finds it, and struggles with it. He traps it, tames it, and rides away serenely on it.

This is like the person who finds kàya-viveka, the sense of buoyancy. And then the purification of the mind: the ox becomes docile and the rider lets the ox free. The mind is free and light. And then there is a picture which is just an empty space, like a circle with nothing in it. No ox, no rider: liberation from mind.

The final picture is called going back to the market place with helping hands—it depicts a simple-looking man with a big beam on his face wandering into the market place to do whatever needs to be done.

Abandonment and compassion have met. This, as I understand it, is the main thread of the Buddha’s teaching.”

Searching for the Ox



Seeing the traces



Seeing the Ox



Catching the Ox



Herding the Ox



Coming Home on the Ox’s Back



The Ox Forgotten, Leaving the Man Alone



The Ox and the Man Both Gone out of Sight



Returning to the Origin, Back to the Source



Entering the City with Bliss-bestowing Hands



Ox-herding Pictures  – a great translation


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