Good description of Oxherding map

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Jimi Patalano, modified 10 Years ago.

Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 49 Join Date: 12/3/10 Recent Posts
Hello DhO,

I found a siiiick description of the Zen "Oxherding pictures" map. Each step has a pretty down-to-earth description as it pertains to actual practice, as well as a sort of analysis or explanation of some classic Japanese poetic verses written on the pictures by a 12th-century Rinzai master.

The author of the page itself I believe is a Roshi, since the description is described as a "Teisho", a term which in Rinzai is reserved only for talks given by someone who has been designated a Roshi. So he at least has some sort of authority/authorization within the Rinzai school, if anyone here cares about that sort of thing.

I mostly mention this because there's not much info on DhO about this map (which is my personal favorite), so I thought the community in general could benefit.

Furthermore, I was hoping maybe some of those who have solid knowledge of some of the Theravada/whatever "Vipassana" maps could try to do some map-matching? Might be an interesting exercise... If no one wants to do it I'll do some reading up on the Vipassana maps, but I might not be very qualified to make comparisons.

Enjoy! Ten Ox-Herding Pictures

Jimi
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Beoman Claudiu Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Jimi Patalano:
Hello DhO,

I found a siiiick description of the Zen "Oxherding pictures" map. Each step has a pretty down-to-earth description as it pertains to actual practice, as well as a sort of analysis or explanation of some classic Japanese poetic verses written on the pictures by a 12th-century Rinzai master.

The author of the page itself I believe is a Roshi, since the description is described as a "Teisho", a term which in Rinzai is reserved only for talks given by someone who has been designated a Roshi. So he at least has some sort of authority/authorization within the Rinzai school, if anyone here cares about that sort of thing.

I mostly mention this because there's not much info on DhO about this map (which is my personal favorite), so I thought the community in general could benefit.

Furthermore, I was hoping maybe some of those who have solid knowledge of some of the Theravada/whatever "Vipassana" maps could try to do some map-matching? Might be an interesting exercise... If no one wants to do it I'll do some reading up on the Vipassana maps, but I might not be very qualified to make comparisons.

Enjoy! Ten Ox-Herding Pictures

Jimi


Oo very lots of fun! Thanks for sharing. I caught myself aligning our maps with it - here is what I came up with. The early ones and later ones were easy-ish, middle ones I'm not too clear about. When I say "path" I mean "MCTB Path" not "10-fetter path".

SEEKING THE OX - A&P. You took drugs, had a crazy unitive experience, or whatever, and now you're off on your journey.
FINDING THE TRACKS - You pick up MCTB or read the AF site or whatever, some teaching that works for you, and you decide to do it.
CATCHING SIGHT OF THE OX - Stream Entry. You have had a glimpse of the ox, a taste of nirvana. you are absolutely certain that it is possible, now, but still nothing way too significant has happened (no permanent perceptual shifts, no great insight into subject/object or whatever.. mostly just more concentration and more conviction).
SEIZING THE OX - You work hard, do more Vipassana, start to attain further MCTB paths, as dualism is really deeply entrenched. perhaps 2nd path.

The next four stages would be middle paths or something like that... MCTB Arahat falls somewhere in here. I dont really know how it matches up... Here's my attempt:

TAMING THE OX - 2nd path, early 3rd path. getting a grip on that ox (the stubborn self).

RIDING THE OX HOME - early 3rd path.

OX FORGOTTEN, PERSON REMAINING - late 3rd path. almost seen through it all, now, but subtle things remain.

PERSON AND OX BOTH FORGOTTEN - MCTB Arahat. Seeing through illusion through + through?
At the eighth stage, "person and ox both forgotten"[jingyu gubô], we come to realize the fact that this "I" (person), which has been seeking, and the essential self (ox), which has been the object of our search, did not exist at all.
I dnno though, some MCTB Arahats will have to read the stages and see which one they find themselves at (and they might be mistaken anyway, or misunderstand the stages...) you're still not done, though.

RETURNING TO THE SOURCE - Back to Training in Morality! Now that you're Enlightened, what do you do?

ENTERING THE MARKETPLACE WITH ARMS HANGING LOOSE - Actual Freedom, woot! OK I am biased, but that's what this sounds like.
Nor does he or she make any conscious effort to keep the rules of conduct and teachings of the saints and wise people of old. You simply go where you want, do what you want, and live as you like. And yet you do not stray from the right path. You lead a life of total freedom, a life of natural simplicity without striving to do anything - and yet there arise no problems.

Only after you become such a personality, for the first time you suffer with a suffering person [kaitô-domen: ash-covered head and earth soiled face] and ever so naturally a power to save that person emerges. This is not by any conscious effort of will to do so, but it appears as something you must do as a manifestation of the spirit of compassion.
Richard on the AF site said a few times, "there is no way I could not tell my fellow human beings about what I've discovered. if that were possible it wouldn't be Actual Freedom."

Word. i wonder how others would place these. especially those middle ones.
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Beoman Claudiu Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Or an alternative interpretation:

SEEKING THE OX - You become dissatisfied and start seeking. No stage in particular.

FINDING THE TRACKS - You pick up MCTB or read the AF site or whatever, some teaching that works for you, and you decide to do it.

CATCHING SIGHT OF THE OX - A&P. You took drugs, had a crazy unitive experience, or whatever, and now you're off on your journey. A first glimpse of Enlightenment, but nothing permanent yet (and not enlightenment, really, just an idea that you might be). I didnt think this at first cause it seems to be described as enlightenment in the text, but if "all that remains is a memory of Enlightenment" then that describes this stage perfectly.

SEIZING THE OX - You work hard, do more Vipassana, and get Stream Entry, or maybe just working thru Dark Night?

TAMING THE OX - definitely stream entry, working through it more, 2nd path, early 3rd path.

RIDING THE OX HOME - early 3rd path, mid 3rd path, working through it now, is starting to make sense.

OX FORGOTTEN, PERSON REMAINING - late 3rd path. almost seen through it all, now, but subtle things remain.

PERSON AND OX BOTH FORGOTTEN - MCTB Arahat

RETURNING TO THE SOURCE - Back to Training in Morality! Now that you're Enlightened, what do you do?

ENTERING THE MARKETPLACE WITH ARMS HANGING LOOSE - Actual Freedom, woot!
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tarin greco, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 658 Join Date: 5/14/09 Recent Posts
Jimi Patalano:
Hello DhO,

I found a siiiick description of the Zen "Oxherding pictures" map. Each step has a pretty down-to-earth description as it pertains to actual practice, as well as a sort of analysis or explanation of some classic Japanese poetic verses written on the pictures by a 12th-century Rinzai master.

The author of the page itself I believe is a Roshi, since the description is described as a "Teisho", a term which in Rinzai is reserved only for talks given by someone who has been designated a Roshi. So he at least has some sort of authority/authorization within the Rinzai school, if anyone here cares about that sort of thing.

I mostly mention this because there's not much info on DhO about this map (which is my personal favorite), so I thought the community in general could benefit.

a quick search of the discussion forums for the term 'oxherding' turned up two other threads (besides this one):

RE: The Ten Oxherding Pictures
RE: Where am I on the map


Jimi Patalano:

Furthermore, I was hoping maybe some of those who have solid knowledge of some of the Theravada/whatever "Vipassana" maps could try to do some map-matching? Might be an interesting exercise... If no one wants to do it I'll do some reading up on the Vipassana maps, but I might not be very qualified to make comparisons.

a few people gave the very thing you're asking for an attempt in that first thread, and their results were collected into a table and published to the old dho website. as that site is no longer publicly accessibly, i have taken screenshots of the table and am appending them to this reply for your convenience.

by the way, the last reply to first thread the search query mentioned above returned also contains the same link (terebuss.hu..) that you have here posted.

tarin

--

The Ten Oxherding Pictures
A Zen map.

In Search of the Bull (aimless searching, only the sound of cicadas)
Discovery of the Footprints (a path to follow)
Perceiving the Bull (but only its rear, not its head)
Catching the Bull (a great struggle, the bull repeatedly escapes, discipline required)
Taming the Bull (less straying, less discipline, bull becomes gentle and obedient)
Riding the Bull Home (great joy)
The Bull Transcended (once home, the bull is forgotten, discipline's whip is idle; stillness)
Both Bull and Self Transcended (all forgotten and empty)
Reaching the Source (unconcerned with or without; the sound of cicadas)
Return to Society (crowded marketplace; spreading enlightenment by mingling with humankind)
There's also Wikipedia page on this subject.

The following table is an overview of various interpretations aligning the pictures with a single insight cycle, the entire Theravada four-path model, the A.'.A.'. grades of Magick, and an interpretation by Chogyam Trungpa.


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Mike Kich, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 170 Join Date: 9/14/10 Recent Posts
I like this post a lot!! I've always wondered how exactly the various traditions might reach a consensus on the topic of the Oxherding pictures.

I also want to ask, I'm reading this link: http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/attentivenesssensuousnessapperceptiveness.htm

and

I don't understand this particular line entirely well: "and that this place in space has no distance as in here and there – for the relative is the absolute."

Is that to say that the only place that exists as far as I'm concerned is the place which I'm inhabiting in this moment, and since every moment is this moment, I'm also inhabiting every place and every time simultaneously and also not?

I also do not find these couple lines either desirable or true:

"One can apperceive prime characteristics that actual freedom factually shows. In psychiatric terms, for example, these are called:
1. ‘depersonalisation’ (selflessness ... the absence of an entity that is called ego and Soul or self and Self).
2. ‘alexithymia’ (the absence of the affective faculty ... no emotions, passions or calentures whatsoever).
3. ‘derealisation’ (the condition of having lost one’s grip on reality ... the ‘real world’ is nowhere to be found).
4. ‘anhedonia’ (the inability to affectively feel pleasure ... no hormonal secretions means hedonism is not possible)."

This makes enlightenment sound like a robot whose penis has fallen off. I'd prefer to laugh now and then with people I love and have orgasms with whichever lady I might happen to be with. Enlightenment really is your own thing.
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Jimi Patalano, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 49 Join Date: 12/3/10 Recent Posts
Mike Kich:
I like this post a lot!! I've always wondered how exactly the various traditions might reach a consensus on the topic of the Oxherding pictures.

I also want to ask, I'm reading this link: http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/attentivenesssensuousnessapperceptiveness.htm

and

I don't understand this particular line entirely well: "and that this place in space has no distance as in here and there – for the relative is the absolute."

Is that to say that the only place that exists as far as I'm concerned is the place which I'm inhabiting in this moment, and since every moment is this moment, I'm also inhabiting every place and every time simultaneously and also not?

I also do not find these couple lines either desirable or true:

"One can apperceive prime characteristics that actual freedom factually shows. In psychiatric terms, for example, these are called:
1. ‘depersonalisation’ (selflessness ... the absence of an entity that is called ego and Soul or self and Self).
2. ‘alexithymia’ (the absence of the affective faculty ... no emotions, passions or calentures whatsoever).
3. ‘derealisation’ (the condition of having lost one’s grip on reality ... the ‘real world’ is nowhere to be found).
4. ‘anhedonia’ (the inability to affectively feel pleasure ... no hormonal secretions means hedonism is not possible)."

This makes enlightenment sound like a robot whose penis has fallen off. I'd prefer to laugh now and then with people I love and have orgasms with whichever lady I might happen to be with. Enlightenment really is your own thing.


Mike, I don;t know anything about AF, and you should probably make this its own post, but here's what I would say about those qualities:

On the one hand, they do seem a little extreme. In fact, this description of the Oxherding maps has this to say about the final stage (this is already quoted above but whatever, its juicy):

And the person who has reached this level does not show any outward signs of being in such a high or deep or tranquil stage of being. Nor does he or she make any conscious effort to keep the rules of conduct and teachings of the saints and wise people of old. You simply go where you want, do what you want, and live as you like. And yet you do not stray from the right path. You lead a life of total freedom, a life of natural simplicity without striving to do anything - and yet there arise no problems.


So, for what its worth, thats the Zen version of Enlightenment.

But keep in mind that more, for a lack of a better word, typical (Theravada-y? whatever, you know what I'm talking about...) models of Enlightenment include a cessation of passion and sensual desire... so, where does sex and emotion fit into that? Not sure, you tell me. But tellingly, most traditions (I'm talking traditional Buddhism, newfangled-MCTB-type stuff aside) stress renunciation as something that is very expedient, if not essential, to progressing towards Enlightenment. Usually this includes abstaining from sexual relations... but of course that's all pre-Enlightenment. All bets are off afterwards, I suppose...
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Beoman Claudiu Beoman, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike Kich:
I don't understand this particular line entirely well: "and that this place in space has no distance as in here and there – for the relative is the absolute."

Is that to say that the only place that exists as far as I'm concerned is the place which I'm inhabiting in this moment, and since every moment is this moment, I'm also inhabiting every place and every time simultaneously and also not?

hmm ya this needs its own thread. i'm not entirely sure by it. about time - time doesn't really exist. there is no yesterday or tomorrow, in actuality - there's only this moment. apparently upon AF this becomes abundantly clear, hence "i have all the time in the world." about space, i'm not sure. the idea is that there is no 'center' - the universe is infinite in every direction. it has no corners or center, so wherever you are is not 'special' or 'central' in any way at all - it's just where you happen to be. not only you, but everything is exactly where it is. both these are made clear in a PCE.

Mike Kich:
I also do not find these couple lines either desirable or true:

"One can apperceive prime characteristics that actual freedom factually shows. In psychiatric terms, for example, these are called:
1. ‘depersonalisation’ (selflessness ... the absence of an entity that is called ego and Soul or self and Self).
2. ‘alexithymia’ (the absence of the affective faculty ... no emotions, passions or calentures whatsoever).
3. ‘derealisation’ (the condition of having lost one’s grip on reality ... the ‘real world’ is nowhere to be found).
4. ‘anhedonia’ (the inability to affectively feel pleasure ... no hormonal secretions means hedonism is not possible)."

This makes enlightenment sound like a robot whose penis has fallen off. I'd prefer to laugh now and then with people I love and have orgasms with whichever lady I might happen to be with. Enlightenment really is your own thing.

well do you prefer to laugh now and then with people you love, or to not suffer at all, in any way, for the rest of your living life, period? (mind you, boredom is also a form of suffering.) if you don't mind some suffering with some pleasure then actual freedom is not for you - though you can go on doing vipassana.

from what i know of the AF people, they still have sex & orgasms & they still laugh, but they do not love - rather, cannot love, neither love nor not-love enters in the question. they sure do have fun though. and you only need read richard's bountiful descriptions of the actual world to show that they delight in the senses.
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Mike Kich, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 170 Join Date: 9/14/10 Recent Posts
Feel free to move this post.

well do you prefer to laugh now and then with people you love, or to not suffer at all, in any way, for the rest of your living life, period? (mind you, boredom is also a form of suffering.) if you don't mind some suffering with some pleasure then actual freedom is not for you - though you can go on doing vipassana


Buddhism isn't a denial of your basic humanity though, it's quite the contrary. Unless we're working upon the limited emotional range argument, which from everything I've heard and read and seen just isn't true, then being enlightened doesn't mean you walk around like a blanko robot for the rest of your life, immune to a huge range of what it means to be human. Maybe that's some peoples' vision of Enlightenment, but that's sure not mine. The idea that you're supposed to walk around not caring about anyone, even your parents or your lover/spouse, seems a really very sad and repressed notion. If you don't really care about anyone in any way, where does limitless compassion arise from? Where does the capacity to generate empathy arise from? When someone you know is sick or dying, are you not supposed to even shed a human tear? Just stare at them and shrug at their suffering? No, that's not Enlightenment, nor is it human.
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Beoman Claudiu Emu, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 2198 Join Date: 10/27/10 Recent Posts
Mike Kich:
Buddhism isn't...
it's hard to say what "Buddhism" is or isn't as there are so many flavors and varieties and interpretations. so saying "Buddhism is/isn't" is a blanket statement. for example, Buddhism as we do it according to MCTB doesn't focus much on love or compassion at all, but by understanding the 3 chars of all things, including love and compassion.

Mike Kich:
[Buddhism isn't] a denial of your basic humanity though, it's quite the contrary...

basic humanity dictates when somebody hurts you, you get angry and hurt them back. basic humanity has led to all the wars and violence and rape and abuse etc. (I just realized - not only does torture happen, but it happens so often and it's such a common thing that there's a word for it! wtf...) why embrace that humanity when it clearly leads to much suffering? if our basic humanity was so good we wouldn't need to do any of this.

if by 'basic humanity' you mean 'love and compassion' then you're making the mistake of taking some emotions, separating them out from the rest (hate, insecurity, feeling of separation, feeling of loneliness), claiming they are special (they are 'basic humanity' and the rest are 'evil' or whatever) and trying to cultivate them while eliminating just their opposites, which doesn't really work.

also you certainly can't succeed by denying your basic humanity. actually, trying to separate out love+compassion from the rest would be denying it, as it's a lack of understanding of what humanity is... but by fully understanding humanity as it manifests in your social identity and instinctual passions, you can realize they are no longer necessary and be (Actually) Free of them.

Mike Kich:
Unless we're working upon the limited emotional range argument, which from everything I've heard and read and seen just isn't true, then being enlightened doesn't mean you walk around like a blanko robot for the rest of your life, immune to a huge range of what it means to be human. Maybe that's some peoples' vision of Enlightenment, but that's sure not mine...


have you heard and read and seen anything about Actual Freedom? that's what i'm referring to when i speak of no emotions. limited emotional range isn't exactly accurate - their emotional range is not limited, it is simply impossible for emotions to arise when Actually Free. however, they still care about the rest of us... as evidenced by the many times Richard (the discoverer of AF) has said it would be impossible for him not to share his discovery with the rest of the world. and they certainly don't walk around like blanko robots - the notion that you become a robot if you have no emotions is an incorrect one and can easily be dispelled by remembering or having a PCE.

Mike Kich:
The idea that you're supposed to walk around not caring about anyone, even your parents or your lover/spouse, seems a really very sad and repressed notion. If you don't really care about anyone in any way, where does limitless compassion arise from? Where does the capacity to generate empathy arise from? When someone you know is sick or dying, are you not supposed to even shed a human tear? Just stare at them and shrug at their suffering? No, that's not Enlightenment, nor is it human.


what good does it do the one suffering that you are crying? instead of them suffering, now them + you are suffering. you're also not in a very good position to help them if you're debilitated by blubbering. and if you do help them, you'll be doing it to alleviate your own suffering (out of the pity you feel for them / so you stop crying), not to alleviate their own suffering (because you understand, not emotionally with crying, but with rational reasoning, that nobody should ever have to suffer). is the only reason you want to help someone who hurts because you feel bad? or do you want to help them because they are actually suffering and you actually care?

Richard says repeatedly he cares about his fellow humans. Trent said if he was walking on his way somewhere and saw someone trip & break their ankle, for example, he'd go 'out of his way', stop by, see what's wrong, help them out, etc. the way he put it, he wouldn't be going 'out of his way' at all. so you certainly don't need emotions to care about a fellow human's suffering. in fact, relying on them makes you a prisoner... your actions are only spurred by irrational out-of-your-control processes (emotions rising) instead of being free to do whatever you like.

as i said, though, you can continue doing vipassana as MCTB describes, since it doesn't eliminate your emotions.
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Jimi Patalano, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 49 Join Date: 12/3/10 Recent Posts
Mike, you may find the Zen approach to practice and enlightenment more appealing than AF, or vipassana for that matter. One comparison I heard somebody make was the while vipassana was primarily interested in how form is emptiness, Zen tends to be more focused on how emptiness becomes form. But then they also say that whatever you think, don't think you know Zen, so maybe this isn't the case...
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Mike Kich, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 170 Join Date: 9/14/10 Recent Posts
You're right that I've already been very interested in Zen. Whenever I do insight meditation, I always do Shikantaza because of its simplicity and extraordinarily uncomplicated and yet complex approach (complex in that I have to figure out what to do about these arising sensations, if anything).
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Jimi Patalano, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 49 Join Date: 12/3/10 Recent Posts
You may find this link useful:

Zazen meditation guide

It's very no-nonsense and straightforward, and it seems more "illuminating" than many other descriptions of zazen I've seen - and yet without sacrificing the sense of wonder almost mystery that I love about Zen teachings.
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Jimi Patalano, modified 10 Years ago.

RE: Good description of Oxherding map

Posts: 49 Join Date: 12/3/10 Recent Posts
tarin greco:

a quick search of the discussion forums for the term 'oxherding' turned up two other threads (besides this one):

RE: The Ten Oxherding Pictures
RE: Where am I on the map

a few people gave the very thing you're asking for an attempt in that first thread, and their results were collected into a table and published to the old dho website. as that site is no longer publicly accessibly, i have taken screenshots of the table and am appending them to this reply for your convenience.

by the way, the last reply to first thread the search query mentioned above returned also contains the same link (terebuss.hu..) that you have here posted.

tarin


Tarin, thanks for this posting. I had no idea there was even an old DhO board... shows what I know! I had seen those threads, but I hadn't seen much of a conclusion reached on either of them, especially since people didn't seem to understand the oxherding map in the first place, which is understandable, cuz its hard to find a practical explanation that doesn't get all Zen-y.

I guess I just didn't quite get to the bottom of the second thread and thus missed this link.

One thing I don't understand though - does each of the maps which is correlated to the Oxherding map represent a separate interpretation of the latter, or is this a unified, transitive equation? Because it seems crazy that you could map one cycle of the Theravada map with the whole path, which includes many cycles. Or is this some quality to do with the whole arahat-fractal concept that I missed (I'll be frank that I only have a superficial grasp of the Theravad maps).

Thanks!

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