Tag Archives: Ox Herding Pictures

Ten Bulls 4. Catching the Bull

4. Catching the Bull

The energy that is this flaring, simply be aware of it (without thought) as it erupts: this is catching the bull.

See how the herdsman holds the rope: this is being aware.

As this awareness grows so does our hold on the rope.

Our hold helps us to remain stable as the bull stampedes – again and again.

If it all becomes too much and we let the rope go – this is ok. All will be well.

Be still as you search and you will experience the bull again – without fail.

In all this, learning to stay with the first experience rather than splitting into thought and forgetting, we discover that not only is the bull wild: our bull is also wily and deceptive.

The bull always sleeps with one eye open.

This is why we say the mantra from beginning to end.

Attention on the mantra is experiencing the bull without focusing on the bull: a vital work! Here we become aware (without thought) of its subtleties and tricks.

More and more tricks: pleasure for pleasure’s sake, showing off, distraction and hiding.

For the bull it is all about survival.

Again and again we are dragged off. Keep a hold of the rope; find the rope, again and again!

Saying the mantra is learning to hold the rope.

In community our bulls herd together. They buck and rage, distract and hide.

Together we hold the rope in meditation and daily life.

In time it all becomes a kind of play: serious not solemn. It’s ok to smile, shake your head, and begin again.


Ten Bulls 3. Perceiving the Bull

Ten Bull 3 Percieving the Bull

Perhaps we want to analyse this bull experience, reflect on it and understand.

As we reflect we move past this first experience of the bull, and into thought: experiencing the experience.

We see the bull, then lose it in thought.

The bull is gone! All that is left is our thinking about the bull.

The bellow of the bull is in the body. We must learn to stay attentive to this first experience.

As practice goes on we learn not to lose the bellow: the first experience of stubbornness, of greed, of pain, of anger – whatever it might be. We feel the intensity of these in the body.

The bull snorts, ‘flares up’, and we stay with the experience, aware of it even for just a second.

This is hard: to experience it and not to forget it in thought. This is what awareness is.

Slowly, we learn to carry this cross of first experience.

Your cross is not my cross, your bull is not my bull.

When we fall to our knees, Jesus falls with us.

The bull is I, ego. Its flaring is wounded passion, energy misdirected, longing become desire: the roots of egoism.

The bull has been our shield, our defence; lashing out and then hiding, running amuck then vanishing.

One foot meditation, one foot awareness.


Ten Bulls 2. Discovering the Footprints

TenBulls2Discovering the Footprints

As we walk we see footprints, we see traces.

Traces of what? Of the bull.

Who is this bull? What are the footprints?

We have lost touch, we cannot see.

We are unaware of the ways we get in the way of ourselves and the ways we hinder Love.

On the path there are traces, that are mine and not my own.

A footprint, a broken fence, damaged trees, eaten grass: what are these?

They are our reactions in life.

Someone stole my parking space!

Someone is using my cup!

People are ignoring me!

I want that!

All this, and much more, is the bull ‘snorting up’: running down the path and through fences, gorging on the fresh green grass.

The traces are everywhere. Learning to see them is one of the great challenges of spiritual and human life.

And so, we walk on: one foot meditation, one foot experiencing the footprints, the traces.

As we walk on we grow familiar, through experience, with the traces – the signs of where the bull has been.


Ten Bulls 1. The Search for the Bull

TheSearchForTheBull

Why do we search? What are we looking for?

Is there a recognition, 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 herdsman: 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?

Conversion is the turning of the head so that feet and head are together as we walk.

Metanoia: change your mind, turn your head. Be attentive to your feet.

The two feet are meditation and daily life. With these we walk on our way; sometimes restless, sometimes listless, sometimes happy, and somehow searching. As we practice, as we live, our heads slowly turn.

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?

Let the grace in walking turn your head.


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