Zen monks are masters of living in the present and one of their teaching methods are the old Ten Ox-herding Pictures. The ox is symbol for your True Self or Spirit, which continuously is seducted to be everywhere else but in the present. The original text has been made more accessible and in addition the zen pictures have been re illustrated.
Man searches, while the ox is wild and unruly, roaming here and there, seeking pleasure, avoiding pain. The more man searches, the less he sees the ox.
Walking the path and paying close attention, man finds the first trace of the ox. That feels good. But that feeling does not last long. Questions come up and accompanying thoughts are coming and going.
All of a sudden, the elusive ox is sighted. In a moment of clear awareness man sees into the nature of his mind. But the wily ox of un-controlled motivations and old habits will still run to grasses greener.
The ox is finally caught. However a fierce struggle follows. Its powerful nature is not easily changed. Holding tight and with determination, man must turn the ox in a new direction.
Leading the way, man must keep a firm hold on the tether. The new ways are still tender and not yet secured. Reverting to previous habits can easily occur, the ox must be tamed!
After a stormy process of transformation, a time of unity and harmony will follow. Consciously living in the present is much easier. The power of the ox and the long subdued inner voice have come together in the present and continue on their Way.
At home at last the fight has been fought, the work has been done. The ox no longer matters to man, who is now at peace with the nature of all things. The bounderies between self and other may begin to melt.
Dwelling in the pureness of everlasting Emptiness, the bounderies between self and other vaporite like snowflakes in a flaming fire. Blissfulness in its purest form is what man remains.
Why search? The flame of selfhood has been extinguished: no self and no other, no time and no space. Everything there is, was in the first place. Action and reaction create diversity. Therefore, back to the nature of things.
A total freedom in all its naturalness is what remains in the end. Nothing can touch man no more. Pureness excludes artficiality. It causes withered trees and alle else to bloom. And man now helps with no intention to help...
The Ox-herding Pictures have been appropriately displayed by us on a birthday calendar. A calendar that can be consulted daily.