Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Eight Ox Herding Pictures

One – In search of the Ox
Alone in the wilderness, lost in the woods, the tekgnostic is searching… searching!
The swelling waters, the far-away mountains, and the unending path.
Exhausted and in despair, he knows not where to go,
he only hears the evening cicadas singing in the woods.

Two – Discovery of Footprints
By the stream and under the trees, scattered are the tracks of the mystery.
The sweet-scented grasses are growing thick… did he find the way?
However remote over the hills and far away the beast may wander,
his nose reaches the heavens and none can conceal it.

Three – Perceiving the Ox
On a yonder branch perches a nightingale cheerfully singing.
The sun is warm, and a soothing breeze blows, on the bank the willows are green.
The ox is there… solitary, nowhere can he hide himself.
The splendid head decorated with stately horns… what artist could reproduce him?

Four – Taking the Ox by the Horns
With the energy of his whole being, the tekgnostic has at last taken hold of the ox.
But how wild his will, how ungovernable his power!
At times he struts up a plateau...
When lo! he is lost again in a misty impenetrable mountain-pass.

Five – Taming the Ox
The tekgnostic is not to separate himself from his tether,
lest the animal should wander away into a world of defilements.
When the ox is properly tended to, he will grow pure and quiet.
Without a chain, nothing binding, he will by himself follow the tekgnostic.

Six – Riding the Ox Home
Riding on the animal, the tekgnostic leisurely wends his way home.
Enveloped in the evening mist, how tunefully the flute vanishes away!
Singing a ditty, beating time, his heart is filled with a joy indescribable!
That he is now among those who know, need it be told?

Seven – Ox and tekgnostic Transcend
All is empty… the tether, the tekgnostic and the ox.
Who can ever survey the vastness of heaven?
Over the furnace burning ablaze, not a flake of snow can fall.
When this state of things obtains, manifest is the spirit of the ancient master.

Eight – The Source
To return to the Origin, to be back at the Source… already a false step this!
Far better it is to stay at home… blind and deaf… and without much ado.
Sitting in the hut, the tekgnostic takes no cognizance of things outside.
Behold the stream flowing… whither nobody knows…
 and the flowers vividly red… for whom do they bloom?

There is no need for the miraculous power of the gods…
For the ancient master touches, and lo! …the dead trees are in full bloom.

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