|The Ten Oxherding Pictures which relate back to a Zen master in the Sung dynasty China (1126-1279 AD), have spiritual roots in the very early Zen Buddhist texts ~ 560 BCE . They provide useful imagery of one of our illusions – our mind cannot be controlled- must and can be negated before a seeker of truth like us can experience enlightenment. The ox symbolize our elusive mind and the herder symbolizes the seeker that is us. A graphic designer, Hor Tuck Loon has given these pictures a contemporary treatment. This is a wonderful “comic book” describing very well what meditation is all about: taming the ox i.e. our thoughts & mind. The 10 pictures describe the step wise process before achieving the control of our Mind in the quest for Enlightenment ( Awakening ).
Here are few modern synonyms for the word COMTEMPLATION: indifference, lethargy, detachment, aloofness, and emotionlessness. Not too exiting!
Its etymology sounds also pretty dull: 1200, from Old French contemplation itself from Latin contemplationem (nominative contemplatio)
“act of looking at”
Act of looking at. No wonder why our analytic, discriminative and judgmental Western mind sees the act of contemplation as passive, dull, boring, unintellectual if not stupid.
Teaching from Mother Nature.
The little “serpent” resting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is the Colorado River.
Being just water the river knew that she was no match to bore quickly against the solid, strong and tough rock to find her way west toward the Pacific Ocean.
So she took her time…. around 35 millions years. Patience, perseverance, adjustment, will and adaptation at their best. A great lesson.
On the other hand the massive and tenacious rocks are telling us that, by letting go – that is not resisting- wonderful things like the Grand canyon can be achieved. Another wonderful lesson.
Can our ego learn from the Grand Canyon ?
Mother nature has zillion of wonderful wisdom teaching to offer. Just take few minutes and contemplate them around you?
Ven. Ji Gong Sunim.
Despite being a Zen Master I strongly believe that perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order and yet every religion talks about perfections.
- What are they?
- How to achieve and maintain them?
- What will happen if you are unable to achieve them during your life?
Zen Buddhism is in the same wagon than other religions when it is talking about “ the 6 perfections” called paramitas a Pali word. Paramitas also means spiritual completeness and accumulation of virtues. In every Buddhist Temple around the world one of the evening chanting is dedicated to the 6 perfections and the vow is to achieve it during our present life or if not … during the next life.Our True Self is perfect (see picture above) but our ego-centered “little self” is not… far from it. This is why every Zen Buddhist practitioner vows to achieve and practice the 6 perfections.
This is a very difficult task!
Which are these 6 perfections?
To discover awakening is to be awake
To be awake is to study self
To study self is to forget self
To forget self is to see things as they are like a mirror and not as we want them to be
Zen mind = Mirror mind
Ven. Ji Gong Sunim.
What is “Mini-Meditation”
Formal meditation practice with a group or solo is key to Zen practice and will not be explained here again.
The site www.oakvillezenmeditation.ca is full of information in this regard.
What is important to realize is that practice of formal meditation is not an end by itself but just a mean or a tool to control our thoughts and their source that is our mind. Our ego-centered mind is the main source of our dissatisfactions, unhappiness and suffering. The external causes of our dissatisfactions remained limited. The first step in controlling our thoughts and emotions is to be aware (mindful) of them. Only after this first step can we delete them. In other words, we cannot control something if we are not aware of it.
During the day over 45,000 thoughts are bombarding us. How many of them are you aware of? Less than 1% may be. Zen talks about sleep day walking or thinking zombies. Beside formal meditation lasting from 10 to 45 minutes you may consider during your hectic day what I call Mini-Meditation. Mini-Meditation is to the formal meditation what a snack is to a meal.
Being mindful to our body.
From Zen hat to MD hat.
Being mindful to our body is part of good Zen practice. It also includes respect our body. Controlling our body weight is an important part of this respect since overweight carries many health hazards not to be discussed here.
If you are not interested in this issue just delete this document.
Part # 1 is a Q & A. It is medically based. You may find it too academic and boring. Just skip it.
Part # 2 is a list of Does and Don’t. It is more practical. Go for it.