Some of you who follow this blog may have seen some posts that appeared during 2018 exploring the ten ox-herding (or bull) pictures of Zen Buddhism. These pictures were originally produced in the twelfth century in China by Master Kakuan. Through the centuries since, other pictures have been drawn, all in the spirit of the first series done by Kakuan. The pictures are a guide for the human and spiritual journey into Buddhist enlightenment, or deification (for the Christian).
Through 2018 each picture was posted with a kind of verse commentary. The bull pictures are often accompanied by verse and commentary. The pictures used were produced by the Japanese woodblock artist Tomikichiro Tokuriki (1902-2000):
Towards the end of 2018 a plan was made to publish the pictures in book form, with the verse, along with an introduction and glossary. As part of this plan, the ten bulls posts on the blog were removed. Carlos Siqueira, a fellow mediator and illustrator living in Brazil, agreed to do a new rendering of the pictures for the book. Since 2018 the pictures have been completed, as has the introduction and the glossary. The accompanying verse has also been edited.
Laurence Freeman, spiritual director for The World Community for Christian Meditation, has written a foreword.
It is hoped that we can have the book out and available around late April/May.
What we thought would be good to do here is to provide a kind of ‘ten bulls preview’ for the book. Here is the first picture (as drawn by Carlos) and its accompanying verse. We hope you find something in it.
Why do we search? What are we looking for?
Is there a knowing, however hidden, that something is missing?
But what? Is it happiness? Peace? Meaning? Wholeness? God?
Something is missing, and we can itch with a desire to find; a desire that grasps and tests, that consumes and moves on.
How has this happened?
We live in a divided state, somehow estranged and yet somehow ourselves.
The desire is to find ourselves. But who am I?
Notice the herder: feet pointing one way, head looking the other.
We are divided; self-consciousness is separate from consciousness.
Our head is pointing in the wrong direction. How can we possibly see where we are going?
The two feet are meditation and daily life. With these we walk on our way; sometimes restless, sometimes listless, sometimes happy, and somehow searching.
On we go into the experience of our own division, into the ways in which we live with true nature forgotten.
On this path of life, we live out of habits and attitudes that seem to hinder. We resist people and happenings that could be somehow good for us.
What’s going on?
Metanoia: change your mind, turn your head. Be attentive to your feet.
Let the grace in walking be your turning.
Copyright (c) Andrew McAlister and Carlos Siqueira