Terebess Asia Online (TAO)
Index

Home

Oxherding Pictures Index

 

十牛圖 Shiniu tu [Jūgyūzu]
The Ten Oxherding Pictures
Introduction and verse by
廓庵師遠 Kuoan Shiyuan [Kakuan Shien], 12th century,
translated by D. T. Suzuki (
鈴木大拙貞太郎 Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō, 1870-1966)

D. T. Suzuki’s first version:
"The Ten Oxherding Pictures," translated by D. T. Suzuki, in Manual of Zen Buddhism, Kyoto: Eastern Buddhist Society, 1934. London: Rider & Company, 1950, New York: Grove Press, 1960. pp. 150-171.
Preliminary
Paintings traditionally attributed to
天章周文 Tenshō Shūbun (1414-1463), ten circular paintings mounted as a handscroll, ink and light color on paper, Muromachi period, late fifteenth century (32 × 181.5 cm), Shōkokuji temple, Kyoto

 

I

Searching for the Ox. The beast has never gone astray, and what is the use of searching for him? The reason why the oxherd is not on intimate terms with him is because the oxherd himself has violated his own inmost nature. The beast is lost, for the oxherd has himself been led out of the way through his deluding senses. His home is receding farther away from him, and byways and crossways are ever confused. Desire for gain and fear of loss burn like fire; ideas of right and wrong shoot up like a phalanx.

Alone in the wilderness, lost in the jungle, the boy 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 maple-woods.

II

Seeing the Traces. By the aid of the sutras and by inquiring into the doctrines, he has come to understand something, he has found the traces. He now knows that vessels, however varied, are all of gold, and that the objective world is a reflection of the Self. Yet, he is unable to distinguish what is good from what is not, his mind is still confused as to truth and falsehood. As he has not yet entered the gate, he is provisionally said to have noticed the traces.

By the stream and under the trees, scattered are the traces of the lost;
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.

III

Seeing the Ox. The boy finds the way by the sound he hears; he sees thereby into the origin of things, and all his senses are in harmonious order. In all his activities, it is manifestly present. It is like the salt in water and the glue in colour. [It is there though not distinguishable as an individual entity.] When the eye is properly directed, he will find that it is no other than himself,

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 all by himself, nowhere is he to hide himself;
The splendid head decorated with stately horns what painter can reproduce him?

IV

Catching the Ox. Long lost in the wilderness, the boy has at last found the ox and his hands are on him. But, owing to the overwhelming pressure of the outside world, the ox is hard to keep under control. He constantly longs for the old sweet-scented field. The wild nature is still unruly, and altogether refuses to be broken. If the oxherd wishes to see the ox completely in harmony with himself, he has surely to use the whip freely.

With the energy of his whole being, the boy 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 unpenetrable mountain-pass.

V

Herding the Ox. When a thought moves, another follows, and then another-an endless train of thoughts is thus awakened. Through enlightenment all this turns into truth; but falsehood asserts itself when confusion prevails. Things oppress us not because of an objective world, but because of a self-deceiving mind. Do not let the nose-string loose, hold it tight, and allow no vacillation.

The boy is not to separate himself with his whip and tether,
Lest the animal should wander away into a world of defilements;
When the ox is properly tended to, he will grow pure and docile;
Without a chain, nothing binding, he will by himself follow the oxherd.

VI

Coming Home on the Ox's Back. The struggle is over; the man is no more concerned with gain and loss. He hums a rustic tune of the woodman, he sings simple songs of the village-boy. Saddling himself on the ox's back, his eyes are fixed on things not of the earth, earthy. Even if he is called, he will not turn his head; however enticed he will no more be kept back.

Riding on the animal, he 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 one of those who know, need it be told?

VII

The Ox Forgotten, Leaving the Man Alone. The dharmas are one and the ox is symbolic. When you know that what you need is not the snare or set-net but the hare or fish, it is like gold separated from the dross, it is like the moon rising out of the clouds. The one ray of light serene and penetrating shines even before days of creation.

Riding on the animal, he is at last back in his home,
Where lo! the ox is no more; the man alone sits serenely.
Though the red sun is high up in the sky, he is still quietly dreaming,
Under a straw-thatched roof are his whip and rope idly lying.

VIII

The Ox and the Man Both Gone out of Sight.[1] All confusion is set aside, and serenity alone prevails; even the idea of holiness does not obtain. He does not linger about where the Buddha is, and as to where there is no Buddha he speedily passes by. When there exists no form of dualism, even a thousand-eyed one fails to detect a loop-hole. A holiness before which birds offer flowers is but a farce.

All is empty-the whip, the rope, the man, 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.

IX

Returning to the Origin, Back to the Source. From the very beginning, pure and immaculate, the man has never been affected by defilement. He watches the growth of things, while himself abiding in the immovable serenity of nonassertion. He does not identify himself with the maya-like transformations [that are going on about him], nor has he any use of himself [which is artificiality]. The waters are blue, the mountains are green; sitting alone, he observes things undergoing changes.

[1. It will be interesting to note what a mystic philosopher has to say about this: "A man shall become truly poor and as free from his creature will as he was when he was born. And I say to you, by the eternal truth, that as long as ye desire to fulfil the will of God, and have any desire after eternity and God; so long are ye not truly poor. He alone hath true spiritual poverty who wills nothing, knows nothing, desires nothing. "--(From Eckhart as quoted by Inge in Light, Life, and Love.)]

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, he takes no cognisance of things outside,
Behold the streams flowing-whither nobody knows; and the flowers vividly red-for whom are they?

X

Entering the City with Bliss-bestowing Hands. His thatched cottage gate is closed, and even the wisest know him not. No glimpses of his inner life are to be caught; for he goes on his own way without following the steps of the ancient sages. Carrying a gourd[1] he goes out into the market, leaning against a staff[2] he comes home. He is found in company with wine-bibbers and butchers, he and they are all converted into Buddhas.

Bare-chested and bare-footed, he comes out into the market-place;
Daubed with mud and ashes, how broadly he smiles!
There is no need for the miraculous power of the gods,
For he touches, and lo! the dead trees are in full bloom.

[1. Symbol of emptiness (sunyata).
2. No extra property he has, for he knows that the desire to possess is the curse of human life.]

 

 

D. T. Suzuki’s second version:
"The Ten Cow-herding Pictures," translated by D. T. Suzuki, published
A) in The Eastern Buddhist (Original Series), Vol. 2. Nos. 3-4. 1923. pp. 176-195.
B) in Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949, pp. 361-374. "The ten pictures reproduced were specially prepared for the author by Reverend Seisetsu Seki, Abbot of Tenryuji, Kyoto." On this page: Original Gozan (
五山) woodcut print source used for Seisetsu Seki's reproductions


住鼎州梁山廓庵和尚十牛圖 一卷 坿 入衆日用一卷 
京都大學人文科學研究所所藏

http://kanji.zinbun.kyoto-u.ac.jp/db-machine/toho/html/M0060001.html

 

THE TEN COW-HERDING PICTURES
THE attainment of Buddhahood or the realization of
Enlightenment is what is aimed at by all pious Buddhists,
though not necessarily during this one earthly life; and Zen,
as one of the Mah?y?na schools, also teaches that all our
efforts must be directed towards this supreme end. While
most of the other schools distinguish so many steps of
spiritual development and insist on one's going through all
the grades successively in order to reach the consummation
of the Buddhist discipline, Zen ignores all these, and boldly
declares that when one sees into the inmost nature of one's
own being, one instantly becomes a Buddha, and that there
is no necessity of climbing up each rung of perfection
through eternal cycles of transmigration. This has been
one of the most characteristic tenets of Zen ever since the
coming east of Bodhidharma in the sixth century. 'See into
thy own nature and be a Buddha' has thus grown the
watchword of the Sect. And this 'seeing' was not the out-
come of much learning or speculation, nor was it due to the
grace of the supreme Buddha conferred upon his ascetic
followers; but it grew out of the special training of the mind
prescribed by the Zen masters. This being so, Zen could not
very well recognize any form of gradation in the attainment
of Buddhahood. The 'seeing into one's nature' was an in-
stant act. There could not be any process in it which would
permit scales or steps of development.
But in point of fact, where the time-element rules
supreme, this was not necessarily the case. So long as our
relative minds are made to comprehend one thing after
another by degrees and in succession and not all at once
and simultaneously, it is impossible not to speak of some
kind of progress. Even Zen as something possible of demon-
stration in one way or another must be subjected to the

More…
http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=10378515

 

I
Looking for the Cow




She has never gone astray, so what is the use of searching her? We are not on intimate terms with her, because we have contrived against our inmost nature. She is lost, for we have ourselves been led out of the way through the deluding senses. The home is growing farther away, and byways and crossways are ever confusing. Desire for gain and fear of loss burn like fire, ideas of right and wrong shoot up like a phalanx.

Alone in the wilderness, lost in the jungle, he is searching, searching!
The swelling waters, far-away mountains, and unending path;
Exhausted and in despair, he knows not where to go,
He only hears the evening cicadas singing in the maple-woods.

 

II
Seeing the Traces of the Cow



By the aid of the Sutras and by inquiring into the doctrines he has come to understand something; he has found the traces. He now knows that things, however multitudinous, are of one substance, and that the objective world is a reflection of the self. Yet he is unable to distinguish what is good from what is not; his mind is still confused as to truth and falsehood. As he had not yet entered the gate, he is provisionally said to have noticed the traces.

By the water, under the trees, scattered are the traces of the lost:
Fragrant woods are growing thick -- did he find the way?
However remote, over the hills and far away, the cow may wander,
Her nose reaches the heavens and none can conceal it.

 

III
Seeing the Cow



He finds the way through the sound; he sees into the origin of things, and all his senses are in harmonious order. In all his activities it is manifestly present. It is like the salt in water and the glue in colour. [It is there, though not separably distinguishable.] When the eye is properly directed, he will find that it is no other thing than himself.

Yonder perching on a branch a nightingale sings cheerfully;
The sun is warm, the soothing breeze blows through the willows green on the bank;
The cow is there all by herself, nowhere is there room to hide her;
The splendid head decorated with stately horns, what painter can reproduce her?

 

IV
Catching the Cow

After getting lost long in the wilderness, he has found the cow and laid hand on her. But owing to the overwhelming pressure of the objective world, the cow is found hard to keep under control. She constantly longs for sweet grasses. The wild nature is still unruly, and altogether refuses to be broken in. If he wishes to have her completely in subjection, he ought to use the whip freely.

With the energy of his whole soul, he has at last taken hold of the cow:
But how wild her will, ungovernable her power!
At times she struts up a plateau,
When lo! she is lost in a misty, impenetrable mountain-pass.

 

V
Herding the Cow

When a thought moves, another follows, and then another--there is thus awakened the endless train of thoughts. Through enlightenment all this turns into truth; but falsehood asserts itself when confusion prevails. Things oppress us not because of the objective world, but because of the self-deceiving mind. Do not get the nose-string loose; hold it tight, and allow yourself no indulgence.

Never let yourself be separated from the whip and the tether,
Lest she should wonder away into a world of defilement:
When she is properly tendered, she grows pure and docile,
Even without chain, nothing binding, she will by herself follow you.

 

VI
Coming Home on the Cow's Back

The struggle is over; he is no more concerned with gain and loss. He hums the rustic tune of the woodman, he sings the simple song of the village-boy. Saddling himself on the cow's back, his eyes are fixed on the things not of this earth, earthly. Even if he is called to, he will not turn his head; however enticed, he will no more be kept back.

Riding the cow he 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 one of those who know, need it be told?

 

VII
The Cow Forgotten, Leaving the Man Alone

Things are one and the cow is symbolic. When you know that what you need is not the snare or set-net but the hare or fish, it is like gold separated from dross, it is like the moon rising out of the clouds. The one ray of light serene and penetrating shines even before days of creation.

Riding on the cow he is at last back in his home,
Where lo! there is no more the cow, and how serenely he sits all alone!
Though the red sun is held up in the sky, he seems to be still quietly asleep;
Under a straw-thatched roof are his whip and rope idly lying beside him.

 

VIII
The Cow and the Man Both Gone out of Sight

All confusion is set aside, and serenity alone prevails; even the idea of holiness does not obtain. He does not linger about where the Buddha is, and where there is no Buddha he speedily passes on. When there exists no form of dualism, even the thousand-eyed one fails to detect a loophole. A holiness before which birds offer flowers is but a farce.

[Footnote: It will be interesting to note what a mystic
philosopher would say about this: "A man shall become truly poor
and as free from his creaturely will as he was when he was born.
And I say to you, by the eternal truth, that as long as ye desire
to fulfil the will of God, and have any desire after eternity and
God; so long are ye not truly poor. He alone has true spiritual
poverty who wills nothing, knows nothing, desires nothing." --
From Eckhart as quoted by Inge in "Light, Life, and Love".]


All is empty, the whip, the rope, the man, and the cow:
Who has ever surveyed 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.

 

IX
Returning to the Origin, Back to the Source

From the very beginning, pure and immaculate, he has never been affected by defilement. He calmly watches growth and decay of things with form, while himself abiding in the immovable serenity of non-assertion. When he does not identify himself with magic-like transformations, what has he to do with artificialities of self-discipline? The water flows blue, the mountain towers green. Sitting alone, he observes things undergoing changes.

To return to the Origin, to be back at the Source--already a false step this!
Far better it is to stay home, blind and deaf, straightway and without much ado.
Sitting within the hut he takes no cognizance of things outside,
Behold the water flowing on--whither nobody knows; and those flowers red and fresh--for whom are they?

 

X
Entering the City with Bliss-Bestowing Hands

His humble cottage door is closed, and the wisest knows him not. No glimpses of his inner life are to be caught; for he goes on his own way without following the steps of the ancient sages. Carrying a gourd he goes out into the market; leaning against a stick he comes home. He is found in company with wine-bibbers and butchers; he and they are all converted into Buddhas.

Barechested and barefooted, he comes out into the marketplace;
Daubed with mud and ashes, how broadly he smiles!
There is no need for the miraculous power of the gods,
For he touches, and lo! the dead trees come into full bloom.