The Ten Oxherding Pictures

December 18, 2015

In the Zen-tradition there is a beautiful story, in which Awakening is 'mapped' through ten pictures with a short text. The Path - of Awakening - is depicted as the searching for, finding, and taming of the ox.

The author of The Ten Oxherding Pictures is Kakuan Shien, a Chinese Zen-master from the twelth century. The texts on this website are translated by D.T. Suzuki (1870 - 1966).

The ten drawings are ascribed to Tenshō Shūbun (1414 - 1463) and are colored copies of black and white pictures.

The herd symbolizes the longing, which embarks on a search. Through identification and misunderstanding it follows confusion and searches outside itself for happiness, without realizing it is searching for itSelf, for Peace.

The tracks of the ox are moments of insight and awakenings. A struggle follows, where attention is called back from habits, patiently withstanding tendencies and patterns.

The obstinate mind is baffled by the one Stillness… whatever comes into the Light surrenders. Insights are transient, what stays is full Emptiness.

Seeker and ox evaporate on the pathless Path, the Source is realized… then Consciousness is in the world, from an embodied Truth and a realized Nature…

Searching the Ox
Seeing the Traces
Seeing the Ox
Catching the Ox
Herding the Ox
Riding the Ox Home
The Ox Forgotten
Ox and Man Gone
Returning to the Source
Returning in the World

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