(Pictograms) by The Buddha – THE OX HERDING PICTURES.

The Ox Herding Pictures depict the seekers search for the Self.


The first seven images indicate stages in this search.  Essentially,  they depict the seekers gradual reassurance that once seen the Self will not disappear; that it is there and actually realisable.  But one cannot tether the Ox and remain at one with it because there is another aspect to this process and that is the effect glimpsing the Ox has on one’s Ego/Mind.  The peace that accompanies this realisation is beyond imagining and once experienced the thought that it might depart is unendurable.   But it departs if we try to hold onto it.  So one tries to tether it until one realises that it is Mind that is tethering it and in doing so the Self disappears from sight.  It cannot be tethered.  It was Mind after all that hid it in the first place.  The Ox will stay but only when Ego/Mind is not trying to hold onto it or possess it.  Until at last the two are as one.  The Self is fully realised and searching is over – constant Bliss prevails.  

These images were originally given to me by Geoff, (a friend) as I left for India.  It seemed appropriate that he signed it with a scrawl and that the corner of his gift had been chewed off.  Thank you Geoff.  It came into its own at last.

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3 thoughts on “(Pictograms) by The Buddha – THE OX HERDING PICTURES.”

  1. Firstly thanks for taking the effort to post the images. Secondly I found the allegorical nature of the images and description interesting. The idea of letting go/freedom to retain is, well, for me the way to go. Thanks

    1. Hi Paul, Just saw that you responded to the Ox Herding Pictures. My experience of these images is that they depict an unfolding that comes about through favouring one attitude over another. At first we all want to be at the end of the journey that we see as some way off, so often because we have awoken to our suffering or we are tormented. There is no journey just the moment and in that moment nothing can change what you are in that moment. But in each moment there can be a favouring of one choice over another in line with some ideal. Imperceptably a transformation takes place, without strain or trying or wishing – not today but tomorrow – and naturally the beggar becomes a saint; in the same clothes and in the same body.

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