The ten oxherding pictures describe the, Zen training path to enlightenment, Folk images are accompanied by poems and commentaries. They depict a young oxherder whose quest leads him to tame, train, and transform his heart and mind, a process that is represented by subduing the ox. Even though these images are presented in a sequence, MARTINE BATCHELOR cautions us against thinking that self-development and Zen practice go in a straight line; It is more like a spiral, and we go back to different stages but with more understanding. You can see these pictures adorning the walls of Zen temples in China, Korea, and Japan. The following commentary by Batchelor is adapted from her new book,Principles of Zen (Thorsons/HarperCollins). The short pieces at the beginning of each commentary are poetic verses by MASTER KUSAN, first printed in his book The Way of Korean Zen. Master Kusan is the abbot of Songgwangsa Monastery near Kwangju City, Korea, illustrations are by MASTER JIKIHARA from the collection of Zen Mountain Monastery.
1. Searching for the Ox
High mountains, deep waters, and a dense jungle of grass—
However much you try, the way to proceed remains unclear!
To alleviate this sense of frustration, listen to the chirping of cicadas.
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