Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A History of Samurai and Zen (23)


Besides these Five Ranks of Merit, Zenists make use of the Ten Pictures of
the Cowherd, in order to show the different stages of mental training
through which the student of Zen has to go. Some poems were written by
Chinese and Japanese teachers on each of these pictures by way of
explanation, but they are too ambiguous to be translated into English, and
we rest content with the translation of a single Japanese poem on each of
the ten pictures, which are as follows:

The first picture, called "the Searching of the Cow", represents the cowherd
wandering in the wilderness with a vague hope of finding his lost cow that
is running wild out of his sight. The reader will notice that the cow is
likened to the mind of the student and the cowherd to the student himself.

"I do not see my cow, But trees and grass, And hear the empty cries Of cicadas."

The second picture, called "the Finding of the Cow's Tracks", represents the
cowherd tracing the cow with the sure hope of restoring her, having found
her tracks on the ground.

"The grove is deep, and so Is my desire. How glad I am, O lo! I see her tracks."

The third picture, called "the Finding out of the Cow", represents the
cowherd slowly approaching the cow from a distance.

"Her loud and wild mooing Has led me here; I see her form afar, Like a dark shadow."

The fourth picture, called "'the Catching of the Cow", represents the
cowherd catching hold of the cow, who struggles to break loose from him.

"Alas! it's hard to keep The cow I caught.S he tries to run and leap And snap the cord."

The fifth picture, called "the Taming of the Cow", represents the cowherd
pacifying the cow, giving her grass and water.

"I'm glad the cow so wild Is tamed and mild. She follows me, as if She were my shadow."

The sixth picture, called "the Going Home Riding on the Cow", represents
the cowherd playing on a flute, riding on the cow.

"Slowly the clouds return to their own hill, Floating along the skies So calm and still.

The seventh picture, called "the Forgetting of the Cow and the remembering
of the Man", represents the cowherd looking at the beautiful scenery
surrounding his cottage.

"The cow goes out by day And comes by night. I care for her in no way, But all is right."

The eighth picture, called "the Forgetting of the Cow and of the Man",
represents a large empty circle.

"There's no cowherd nor cow Within the pen; No moon of truth nor clouds Of doubt in

The ninth picture, called "the Returning to the Root and Source," represents
a beautiful landscape full of lovely trees in full blossom.

"There is no dyer of hills, Yet they are green; So flowers smile, and titter rills At their own

The tenth picture, called "the Going into the City with Open Hands,"
represents a smiling monk, gourd in hand, talking with a man who looks
like a pedlar

"The cares for body make That body pine; Let go of cares and thoughts, O child of mine!"

~Kaiten Nukariya