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Thu Jun 25, 2020, 09:19 PM

Ten Ox Herding Pictures - Yamada Mumon (Commentary) - Zen Buddhism

The Ten Ox Herding Pictures is a series of short poems and accompanying drawings used in the Zen tradition to describe the stages of a practitioner's progress toward enlightenment, and his or her return to society to enact wisdom and compassion. The Ten Oxherding Pictures which relate back to a Ch'an master in the Sung dynasty China (1126-1279 AD), have spiritual roots in the early Buddhist texts. They provide useful imagery of an illusion to be negated before a seeker of truth can experience enlightenment. The ox symbolize the mind and the herder symbolizes the seeker.

This best known version of the oxherding pictures was drawn by the 12th century Chinese Rinzai Chán (Zen) master Kuòān Shīyuǎn (廓庵師遠, Jp. Kaku-an Shi-en), who also wrote accompanying poems and introductory words attached to the pictures.

Commentary by Yamada Mumom.
Translated by Victor Sogen Hori


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