a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

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Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii, modified 7 Years ago.

a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 118 Join Date: 7/21/13 Recent Posts
Hey all.
Treat this as much as a practice log as a claim. It's my process & progress, one month after my loss of sense of watcher and doer (agency).

Also, I have decided to write a little about the beautiful Ox Herding pictures and line them up to the MCTB way of thinking. I never trained in Zen, and everyone's path happens in a slightly different way, but for me, the Ox Herding pictures captured, explained, and crucially guided my process almost perfectly. I guess I enjoy working with metaphors.

The cool thing with the Ox Herding Pictures is that once you truly understand the picture, you realize that stage. Oxen 6-8 I found especially valuable in hinting me into what else needed to be let go of after initial non-duality had been attained. I really recommend them to anyone who likes pictures of animals. Like the MCTB model, they refer only to insight, non-dual perception, they are not an emotional model.

1st Ox Herding Picture
No Ox


One is totally identified with their thoughts, and has no clue about ideas like mindfulness, etc.

2nd Ox Herding Picture - the 1st Vipassana Jhana
Seeing the tracks


One begins to follow the teachings and starts to have some clearer experience of the processes of the body, senses, thoughts, and 'mind'.

3rd Ox Herding Picture - 2nd Vipassana Jhana - The Arising and Passing Away
Seeing the Ox


For the first time, one comes to know some aspect of reality (not the self) very clearly and directly, in naked truth as one has never been known it before. Reality is seen and believed to be something beyond what was previously thought. Very exciting stage, people tend to think they are enlightened at this stage if they are not familiar with maps.

4th Ox Herding Picture - MCTB Stream Entry
Catching the Ox


I wrote a thread on my SE moment here. This stage in the Zen and MCTB tradition are exactly equivalent. The stream is entered and will carry you, the ox is caught on a string and now cannot ever totally get away again, (but it is unruly).

5th Ox Herding Picture - MCTB paths 2 & 3
Taming the Ox


At this stage experiences of watcher-less-ness became more frequent, and the sense that nothing in the sense fields could be me, or not me, increased.
Also, the perception of luminosity started to happen more frequently, but to be honest, not in a big way. I have always had some experiences of luminosity - staring for a while at some objects in nature e.g. rocks, and suddenly, they lose their fixed rockness (aka become empty), and become incredibly alive, intense, vivid, and a sense of lightness pervades. These experiences continued at this stage, now even more stunning because you are viewing empty sense objects from a lighter no-watcher perspective. But I was not paying too much attention to this, as it hadn't occured to me to, and also I was busy deconstructing other things and working on my motivation and belief (aka faith).

6th Ox Herding Picture - in MCTB late 3rd or 4th path territory
Riding the Ox Backwards aka Switch 180 Rodeo emoticon - aka what some might would call Enlightenment


So this is what happened to me a month or so ago. (thread here). Suddenly, no thought or intention patterns at all were ever seen to be 'me' and all the 'watcher' patterns of sensations are always seen clearly as just more non-special sensations. It feels like there is definitely no-one at home. The state was simply a stunning flow of total effortlessness, total lack of doer, free-flow, improvised, totally "in the zone", 100% of the time, even when engaged in thinking. No thoughts having special 'me' status, so it is impossible to have any fixed idea about who or what you are, leading to a sense of falling continuously. The mind cannot 'go' anywhere away from you anymore, the concept as mindfulness as something which you can do, or not do, is forever changed.

The boy, now riding backwards and playing a flute, on what was previously a savagely bucking bronco, is the most beautiful and apt image.

At this point all "personal will" was eradicated. Practice dropped from 2 hrs sitting + 3 hrs walking/contemplation + reading per day, to an average of no sitting or 45 mins sitting and a bit of light walking contemplation per day.

7th Ox Herding Picture - in MCTB 4th path territory
Boy at home, Ox forgotten


However the main duality in the 6th Ox for me, was subtle (or indeed, incredibly unsubtle, rampant, desperate) clinging to the state itself, basically some kind of idea there is a mind (the ox), which is now a certain way (doer-less, watcherless, seemingly non-dual).

In the Zen tradition they say "now wash away all traces of enlightenment" which is what this stage is about. A Zen master said to one of his students at this stage "Its (Enlightenment) foul stench is still upon you..." which is quite a nice image, very true!

So practice here became eradicating any real belief in 'mind', so there can be no possibility of believing that you can "have an enlightened mind", or "have a deluded mind", or in fact any mind at all. I constantly questioned and searched for mind - where is mind (no evidence is found) etc etc and also constantly tried to look for any real evidence of time (none found). This was useful because without time, there can be no mind. Without time there can be no non-dual state, and no unenlightened state.

Eventually there is no belief in a inherently existing "mind state" and you are just the boy, no Ox (no mind), just as he has always been, and as he always was.

It's a very beautiful metaphor because you started with no Ox (i.e. no idea what 'mind' is, totally identified with your thoughts). Then, you had to find it (learn about how your mind works and how it relates to 'you'), then after a big struggle, you tamed it and became a rodeo ox master, but now, the ox has done it's job, and you have no need for it. It comes full circle.

8th Ox Herding Picture - Totally non-dual perception, MCTB 4th Path strictest definition
Nothingness, Emptiness


In the previous stage 7, it still somehow did feel like there was something, a thread (however slender) that was somehow tying together all the sensory input and making it seem like there is some sort of 'you'. There was definitely no watching presence, no doer, and no me to be anything, but there was still something linking... In my case this was the feeling of a "centre" to my experience field, which was caused by believing that objects in the sense field along with their properties like distance and position were a somehow real.

So the practice I was doing is seeing all the sense fields as empty of all objects and characteristics, especially distance and position.
For example, distance of sensations is not inherently real, it is imputed (inferred, interpreted) from other characteristics.
Similarly bodily feeling sensations do not have an actual position, the "where" they come from is created by thought, by a mental image or model.
So I would for example walk and pay attention to some body sensations in the ankle or lungs, then look at the visual field and feel that for example, my foot step could be occurring in the same place as say a tree 50m away, or that my breath sensations were the entire visual field, not separate in distance, and also even not inherently separate in nature - eg audio is mixed with visual and touch, which we infer into 3 distinct flavours of sensation.

All sensations occur nowhere and everywhere, at the origin point, which also is infinite in size. When I had this realisation it seems like the centre is gone now.

Then there was period of wanting the world to appear a certain way, which caused confusion. for example I would be seeing the hologram - the illusion of forms and distances in the 'world' which I knew to be just a formless, locationless, sense field. And becoming confused as to why it was still appearing as the hologram (illusion) when it is known to be locationless emptiness. Then I realised that the interplay of both is the nature of reality, the middle way. Precisely emptiness manifesting as form. It's like a magic eye (stereogram picture) of a dinosaur. Before, you always saw the dinosaur, and thought it was real. Then you came to know that actually it was just a flat picture of dots. But your mind still creates the dinosaur, and if you are averse to seeing the dinosaur, and keep wanting it to disappear, you will become frustrated! The nature of your optical system is to show you the dinosaur. So you give up trying to see the world in any particular way, and the dinosaur still appears, but in a light, effortless and empty way, just dots, which are happily manifesting as dinosaur for now.

So in the last picture the boy, who was resting in pure, mindless nature, was nonetheless still a person, human in form. Now in stage 8 , with the utter destruction of centre, he is nothing. No-one, no mind, no centre, no body. The person dies totally into the experience field.

Just to re-iterate, this is just how it has happened for me so far. The elements of emptiness happen in different ways and orders for different people probably.

9th Ox Herding Picture - not sure yet! Open to hear from people!
Trees 'n' stuff



10th Ox herding Picture - also don't know yet! Anyone know?
A fat guy



Would really appreciate any feedback or any pointers on where to look for more dualities.
AEN was super helpful so far and thanks to everyone who replied. As I said I am relating my experience and my interpretation of it, which I think is a helpful process for me and others. Also the stages and nature of insight are just something I find so magnificently beautiful and interesting.

On where practice goes now:
** I am going to try to stay curious, keep looking for more insight related stuff.
** But my next goal is to try to clear out the back end - become more emotionally integrated
** And also I think I would like to eradicate non-useful thought (l love that sentence).

On how this related to life and relations - is this at all interesting to anyone?
Some themes that I have going on:
1. How much am I suffering? Am I suffering at all?
2. Everyone else seems mad. Properly mad.
3. The hilarity of trying to talk about it to anyone, on a spiritual path or not
4. A rocky on-off-on-off start to a very intense romance
5. The total, farcical ludicrousness of thoughts
6. Concept of time falling away.
7. How this is impacting the relationship with my mum and brother
8. Memory becoming drastically poorer in some ways
9. Losing will to do a lot things I used to like doing
10. general megalomanic / superiority feelings
11. seemingly total fearlessness of one type.
12. the thinking-bit-of-the-mind's total inablity to keep up with the nature of perception
13. not seeming to be at all self-realised sometimes

Well done if you made it this far! I enjoyed writing this and hope some people get something out of it.
T DC, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 389 Join Date: 9/29/11 Recent Posts
I think in this post you're are making the assumption that the end of the zen path is 4th path MCTB. It is my personal opinion that there is a long path post 4th path. Frankly I would put 4th path at '2. Seeing the tracks'. Because, though one is aware of emptiness at 4th path, one is still not looking at it directly. The void of space negates the form which one perceives, but one does not purely perceive the void.

Haha, don't think you're done yet.
An Eternal Now, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Thanks Sadalsuud for this nice sharing.

How stable is your experience of PCE* now?

http://actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/pce.htm

*• [Richard]: ‘In a PCE there is the direct sensate experience of being here – at this place in infinite space – right now at this moment of eternal time ... there is no affective qualities like ‘Euphoria’ or ‘Bliss’ or ‘Ecstasy’ or ‘Rapture’ leading one to the transcendent ‘Goodness’ (‘Love’ and ‘Compassion’) and to the supramundane ‘Truth’ (‘Beauty’ and ‘Wholeness’) where the awesome ‘Sacred and Holy’ reigns in all its miraculous ‘Ineffability’. In a PCE one is now living – as I do – in the infinitude of this fairy-tale-like actual world with its sensuous quality of magical perfection and purity where everything and everyone has a lustre, a brilliance, a vividness, an intensity and a marvellous, wondrous, scintillating vitality that makes everything alive and sparkling ... even the very earth beneath one’s feet. The rocks, the concrete buildings, a piece of paper ... literally everything is as if it were alive (a rock is not, of course, alive as humans are, or as animals are, or as trees are). This ‘aliveness’ is the very actuality of all existence ... the ‘actualness’ of everything and everyone’.

...

RICHARD: This is a very accurate description of what I call the actual world – the world of the sense organs unmediated by a ‘who’ within the body. For the sake of clarity, I call this apperception. Apperception – which the Oxford Dictionary defines as: ‘The mind’s perception of itself’ – is when ‘I’ temporarily vacate the scene and I experience myself as being these eyes seeing, these ears hearing ... and so on. All the senses are heightened and all is vivid, intense, vital and dynamic. Everywhere and everything is already perfect as-it-is and nothing more needs to be done other than to live this experience, every moment again, for the term of one’s natural life. There is no need for a sense of identity, a sense of self, a sense of ‘I’ ... in fact, ‘I’ have been standing in the way, all these years, of this actual world being apparent. It is actually as simple as this to be free. And with the ending of ‘I’, which was only an illusion, and by not falling prey to becoming the second ‘I’, which is a delusion (‘I am God’, ‘I am The Supreme’, I am That’, I am The Absolute’ – or even just ‘I am’), one has eliminated both sorrow and malice forever. There is no evil in the actual world; evil exists only in the human psyche ... and in the ‘real world’ which ‘I’ create. Likewise there is no sorrow in the actual world; suffering exists only in the human psyche also. The actual world is a world of benignity and benevolence.

...

RICHARD: If engaging in the thrilling activity of getting rid of your ‘self’ being nothing but a belief in an ‘old spiritual man-made ideal’ I would have to ask what is ‘man-made’ about a pure consciousness experience? Everybody that I have spoken to at length has experienced moments of perfection and purity in what is known as ‘PCE’. In such a peak experience everything is seen, with unparalleled clarity, to be already always perfect ... that humans are all living in purity ... if only one would act upon one’s seeing. With seeing that everything is already perfect – it always has been and always will be – it is seen that ‘I’, the self, have been standing in the way of this perfection being apparent. Normally the mind perceives through the senses and sorts the data received according to its predilection; but the mind itself remains unperceived ... it is taken to be unknowable. In a PCE there is apperception operating. Apperception happens when the ‘who’ inside abdicates its throne and a pure awareness occurs. The PCE is as if one has eyes in the back of one’s head; there is a three hundred and sixty degree awareness and all is self-evidently clear. This is knowing by direct experience, unmediated by any ‘who’ whatsoever. One is able to see that the ‘who’ of one has been standing in the way of the perfection and purity that is the essential nature of this moment of being here becoming apparent. Here a solid and irrefutable native intelligence can operate freely because the ‘thinker’ and the ‘feeler’ are extirpated.

Then what one is (‘what’ not ‘who’) is these sense organs in operation: this seeing is me, this hearing is me, this tasting is me, this touching is me, this smelling is me, and this thinking is me. Whereas ‘I’, the identity, am inside the body: looking out through ‘my’ eyes as if looking out through a window, listening through ‘my’ ears as if they were microphones, tasting through ‘my’ tongue, touching through ‘my’ skin, smelling through ‘my’ nose, and thinking through ‘my’ brain. Of course ‘I’ must feel isolated, alienated, alone and lonely, for ‘I’ am cut off from the magnificence of the world as-it-is (the actual world) by ‘my’ very presence.
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Pål S., modified 7 Years ago.

RE: a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 196 Join Date: 8/16/10 Recent Posts
AEN, have you thought about doing a similar writeup comparing the ox herding pictures to your seven stages of enlightenment? Would be interesting to see how different maps fit to the same reference...
An Eternal Now, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 638 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Pål S.:
AEN, have you thought about doing a similar writeup comparing the ox herding pictures to your seven stages of enlightenment? Would be interesting to see how different maps fit to the same reference...
To me, the original Zen oxherding poems point to the I AM realization (stage 3) then maturing the experience into one mind and then into no mind (stage 9). There is no indication of realization of anatta.

However this Zen teacher manages to describe anatta (as in thusness stage 5) as an insight in Stage 9 in his commentary to the original verses: http://www.sanbo-zen.org/cow09_e.html

I don't think it is necessary to do a thorough mapping and what the oxherding pictures say may not be the same as the Thusness 7 stages in its details.


http://www.sanbo-zen.org/cow_e.html
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi,

I enjoyed writing this and hope some people get something out of it.
To whom is credit given for these beautiful illustrations?
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Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 118 Join Date: 7/21/13 Recent Posts
hey all thanks for the feedback

@AEN
I feel I do not yet understand what the PCE is, I thought I had some experience/understanding of it, but now I am unsure. There is a lot to read about it so I will do some reading/practising and get back to you. Currently I would say my state is full of various moods and emotions - e.g. irritation can arise, but at some level this is understood to be both empty and manifesting, and perfect just as it is, even though thoughts to the contrary can arise. I have my own take on how to go forward with working with emotional states etc which I will share soon.

On another note. Things just feel stunningly, shockingly, strikingly, ordinary. Really, like there is absolutely no difference between now and 3 years ago. Apart from the fact it is strikingly obvious that there is no centre, no doer, no thinker. The interconnected nature of all sensations - i.e. sensations being totally empty, locationless, and inseparable from other sensations, just IS, and is 'known' (or to be more accurate, the converse (that sensations existing a concrete way) is no longer believed) - but reality just is, and always was like this, there is no noticing of it - there is no special sense, or perception of this great interconnectedness most the time... It is like windows and glass - you just know that glass is in windows, without seeing it. If I slow down and actively 'practise', like I did to reach this realisation, I can appreciate this aspect of it more - and tune into it more, by expanding attention, so that as I type, I am aware of the thoughts, sounds of the room, fingers on keys, all interpenetrating... is that a good practice?

@Pawel K
I resonate with what you are saying about your 'mind', sychronising, not-synchronising, etc. Like you say, trust/surrender is key I think. Trust in the fact that now you have seen what reality is really like (empty), it doesn't matter what thoughts run in your mind or what sensations arise, or how they combine to apparently become this or that. Reality is as it is, it is you, and it doesn't give a f~@k what you perceive it as. Reality will win in the end! I will talk about other things you asked later if that's ok

Hey Katy
I found them on this site:
http://www.sanbo-zen.org/cow_e.html
pictures are works by YOKOO Tatsuhiko, a members of the Sanbô-Kyôdan Society
and I trusted that no-one would mind their non-commercial usage here. Hope you're good.
katy steger:
Hi,
http://www.sanbo-zen.org/cow_e.html
I enjoyed writing this and hope some people get something out of it.
To whom is credit given for these beautiful illustrations?


@TDC
Don't worry I will keep practicing. I am really intrigued by your achievements and deffo want to know more about eliminating thoughts, and clearing out the karmic storehouse, which I will ask you about in a bit. One thing I will say though about your placement of MCTB 4th - different people, even all on this forum have different definitions of MCTB 4th path. Some people describe it like stage 6 on this ox map - "no doer, feeling of done". Daniel claims his own state 4th path as very different, which is much more advanced. Please check which version you are calling MCTB 4th path. Where is the room for duality in Daniel's description here? He is talking about how he perceives the emptiness of his experience:
Daniel M. Ingram:

When I mean empty, I also mean without boundary, without inside and outside

I also mean the direct immediate experience in its unprocessed or raw form. I also mean the total dissolution of the sense of a perceiver.

I also mean no active agent.

I also mean that nothing is stable, including space and time.

I also mean that all is bare, shifting, empty sensate experience, causal, happening according to the basic laws of the universe, naturally, on its own.

I also would say that there is no boundary or differentiation between the sense doors at they occur, nor between body and mind, nor between manifestation and awareness, nor between this and that, beyond those ordinarily used for communication and discriminating function, but these are not the essential nature of experience, just part of it as sensations when they occur.

Nor can one find any here that is stable, nor a now that is stable, nor a knower, nor an investigator, nor any practitioner, nor any attainer.

When I talk of an integrated transient, natural, causal, luminous experience field, this sounds to me exactly like your "All collapse into a single sphere of natural presence and spontaneous simplicity."

from: http://dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4179363
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katy steger, modified 7 Years ago.

RE: a month after claiming mctb 4th path, Zen Ox Herding pictures

Posts: 1741 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii:
hey all thanks for the feedback
(...)

Hey Katy
I found them on this site:
http://www.sanbo-zen.org/cow_e.html
pictures are works by YOKOO Tatsuhiko, a members of the Sanbô-Kyôdan Society
and I trusted that no-one would mind their non-commercial usage here. Hope you're good.
katy steger:

Hi,
Sadalsuud Beta Aquarii: I enjoyed writing this and hope some people get something out of it.
To whom is credit given for these beautiful illustrations?



I'm well, thanks.

Free/fair/commercial use and giving credit are two different phenomena.

I like to know the individuals doing beautiful works, to check in on what else they may be doing.

Thanks for adding who is given credit for the work: this modern artistTatsuhiko Yokoo.

[edit: formatting]

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