Zen Stages of Enlightenment: The Ten Bulls - Deepstash

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Fully experience all your emotions

To practice Zen is to fully experience your emotions without pushing them away or being swept away by them. We should see our emotions like a wild bull that, while powerful, is neither good nor bad. Rather than remain ignorant of the bull, we look for it and aim to tame it.

The Ten-bulls story describes the journey each of us must go on towards conquering the self.

Source https://www.michaelashcroft.org/blog/practicing-zen


392 reads

1. In Search of the Bull

1. In Search of the Bull

In the pasture of the world,

I endlessly push aside the tall

grasses in search of the Ox.

Following unnamed rivers,

lost upon the interpenetrating

paths of distant mountains,

My strength failing and my vitality

exhausted, I cannot find the Ox.


366 reads

2. Discovery of the Footprints

2. Discovery of the Footprints

Along the riverbank under the trees,

I discover footprints.

Even under the fragrant grass,

I see his prints.

Deep in remote mountains

they are found.

These traces can no more be hidden

than one’s nose, looking heavenward.


322 reads

3. Perceiving the Bull

3. Perceiving the Bull

I hear the song of the nightingale.

The sun is warm, the wind is mild,

willows are green along the shore –

Here no Ox can hide!

What artist can draw that massive head,

those majestic horns?


283 reads

4. Catching the Bull

4. Catching the Bull

I seize him with a terrific struggle.

His great will and power

are inexhaustible.

He charges to the high plateau

far above the cloud-mists,

Or in an impenetrable ravine he stands.


269 reads

5. Taming the Bull

5. Taming the Bull

The whip and rope are necessary,

Else he might stray off down

some dusty road.

Being well-trained, he becomes

naturally gentle.

Then, unfettered, he obeys his master.


259 reads

6. Riding the Bull Home

6. Riding the Bull Home

Mounting the Ox, slowly

I return homeward.

The voice of my flute intones

through the evening.

Measuring with hand-beats

the pulsating harmony,

I direct the endless rhythm.

Whoever hears this melody

will join me.


245 reads

7. The Bull Transcended

7. The Bull Transcended

Astride the Ox, I reach home.

I am serene. The Ox too can rest.

The dawn has come. In blissful repose,

Within my thatched dwelling

I have abandoned the whip and ropes.


249 reads

8. Both Bull and Self Transcended

8. Both Bull and Self Transcended

Whip, rope, person, and Ox –

all merge in No Thing.

This heaven is so vast,

no message can stain it.

How may a snowflake exist

in a raging fire.

Here are the footprints of

the Ancestors.


240 reads

9. Reaching the Source

9. Reaching the Source

Too many steps have been taken

returning to the root and the source.

Better to have been blind and deaf

from the beginning!

Dwelling in one’s true abode,

unconcerned with and without –

The river flows tranquilly on

and the flowers are red.


232 reads

10. Return to Society

10. Return to Society

Barefooted and naked of breast,

I mingle with the people of the world.

My clothes are ragged and dust-laden,

and I am ever blissful.

I use no magic to extend my life;

Now, before me, the dead trees

become alive.


255 reads



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I found an interesting Zen story that describes how we go from being controlled by our emotions to recognizing and taming them


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