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六牛圖 Liuniu tu [Rokugyūzu]
The Six Oxherding Pictures

by 自得慧暉 Zide Huihui [Jitoku Keiki], 1090-1159
Translated by
工藤澄子 Kudō Sumiko (1929-)
Illustrations by
柴山全慶 Shibayama Zenkei, 1894-1974

Zenkei Shibayama: The six oxherding pictures. Translated by Sumiko Kudo; Nissha Printing Co., [Tokyo, 1967], 48 pages


The First Picture:
AWAKENING OF FAITH

VERSE

One thought of faith is the basis
Which leads one to the way through many a rebirth.
Pitiful indeed am I who know nothing of the Enlightenment
Piling up one heap of dust over another wherever I go.
Wild grasses grow green when the season comes,
The flowers bloom in mad profusion day after day.
Longing for the Home and yet not knowing how,
The tears flow and the kerchief is wet.

Introductory Remarks

An instruction is given for the first time by a good teacher, and faith is awakened;
A thought of faith once awakened is the basis of the way forever.
A spot of white is therefore observed on the ox head.

 

 

The Second Picture:
FIRST ENTERING

VERSE

O my Brother Ox, I ask you,
”How was it that you were so tardy in acquainting me with my fault?”
How many kalpas I have wandered away from my Home!
What a long time I have been running after unrealities!
Each thought is reduced to no-thought,
Each reflection leaves no traces behind it.
Now I start my initiative steps along the way
To the realization of non-doing.

Introductory Remarks

Faith, already awakened, is refined at every moment.
Suddenly come to an insight, joy springs up in the mind.
First it starts from the top; therfore the head is now completely white.

 

 

The Third Picture:
NOT THOROUGHLY GENUINE YET

VERSE

How many seasons are past now since I began feeding and watching over you, O my Brother Ox!
You are almost ready to be the one in the open field, perfectly white.
No longer tempted by the juicy green grass,
You are approaching Mount Himalaya [the goal of our journey].
While the right thougths are collected in Oneness,
The illusive ones are still found mixed in the stream.
It is only when all these defilements are thoroughly cleansed,
That the true mind is beyond the reach of the six vijnanas (modes of consciousness).

Introductory Remarks

An insight has already been attained and is gradually refined.
The wisdom is bright and clear, but is not still quite genuine yet.
Half of the body is now white.

 

 

The Fourth Picture:
TRUE MIND

VERSE

The truth that is beyond the realm of the six vijnanas,
Is the udumbara flower blooming in the midst of a fire.
Thoroughly shorn of all bindings, it stands absolutely by itself.
It is pure and free from all attachments; there is not a particle of dust in it.
No tethers are needed now,
Where are the man and the animal?
How vastly empty is the world beyond the Age of Emptiness!
The truth which no Buddhas, no Patriarchs can ever question.

Introductory Remarks

Delusion no longer prevail; just one true mind.
Pure, immaculate, serene; the whole body is thoroughly white.

 

 

The Fifth Picture:
BOTH FORGOTTEN

VERSE

No more man, no more ox – no tidings anywhere.
The ancient pathway is abandoned – no friends, no souls.
The fog is enveloping everywhere, and the rocks are all around in perfect silence.
The mosses cover eveything; nobody walks the mountain road.
The mind is empty with no thoughts whatever left,
The tracks of the imagination are not imprinted in Time.
Where is the old angler with the rod?
The shadowy leaves cover the mountain stream.

Introductory Remarks

Both the man and the Dharma are forgotten and the boy and the ox are asleep.
Forever transcending all the forms, there is only the great Void.
This is called the Great Emancipation, and the Life of the Buddhas and Patriarchs.

 

 

The Sixth Picture:
PLAYING

VERSE

The impasse is opened and a new vista presents itself!
One is black in the six paths of existence.
Everything taking place here is no other than the Buddha-life itself.
Wherever one may wander, one is greeted by old friends.
This man is like an untainted gem in the mud.
He is like pure gold in the burning furnace.
He saunters leisurely on the path of defilements,
Resting or working as the situattion demands.

"Even beyond the ultimate limits there extends a passageway,
Whereby he comes back among the six realms of existence;
Every worldly affair is a Buddhist work,
And wherever he goes he finds his home air;
Like a gem he stands out even in the mud,
Like pure gold he shines even in the furnace;
Along the endless road [of birth and death] he walks sufficient unto himself,
In whatever associations he is found he moves leisurely unattached."
(Translated by D. T. Suzuki, in Manual of Zen Buddhism)

 

Introductory Remarks

The source of life is extinguished, and from the death he revives;
Assuming any shape according to the conditions and playing around in whatever places he finds himself in
His personality has been changed, but what he does is not different.