Zen Ox Herding

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Ox-herding = a circle; a re-turning to where we have been all along, from fullness to fullness through a continual process of emptying; Suzuki's "˜Beginner's Mind' We may have been asleep for 10,000 years taking things in life for granted before arriving at the first picture"¦The first two pictures are concerned with the worlds karma and thinking. Pictures three through seven are all concerned with the realm between the "˜thinking I' and the attainment of nirvana. However, as long as we have conceptualizations about enlightenment, its attainment is still 10,000 miles away. Note pictures three through eight are all illustrative of the attainment of this First Enlightenment experience, both ox and self forgotten, which is called nirvana or sunyata (emptiness). In this picture all dualisms have dissolved into the ground of being. But this is still only the eighth picture"¦In the ninth picture, return to the Source, there is only a beautiful landscape, just True Nature.

It is Buddha's samadhi* of unbounded openness; it is the Original Enlightenment. But one last step remains"¦Entering the marketplace with helping hands, this is the fullness and completion of all ten stages. It is being present in the moment with a clear, open, and generous kind of mind. It is the Final Enlightenment.

1. Seeking the Ox = control of karma 2. Finding the Tracks = thinking 3. First Glimpse of the Ox = awakening to the true self 4. Catching the Ox = effort exerted to control karma and thinking 5. Taming the Ox = self-cultivation by remaining awake and focused 6. Riding the Ox Home = unity 7. Ox Forgotten, Self Alone = being fully present 8. Both Ox and Self Forgotten = first enlightenment (nirvana) 9. Return to the Source = original enlightenment 10.Entering the Marketplace with Helping Hands = final enlightenment *Samadhi = A trancelike state in which the individual achieves an experience of absorption into ultimate reality while still living; in Yoga, emancipation, the eighth and final stage of self discipline.