Nov 21, 2011

Thoughts on the 10 Bulls

Kakuan's 10 Bulls has already been quoted in "This is the Infinite Speaking" several years ago. It is probably the clearest expression of this entire weblog's Idea, and is the most sturdy and shining enlightened song I've ever encountered. Nature sings with a crystal-clear voice in Kakuan's song.

Some sages playfully tempt me with the idea that Nature is a seductress, like a fashion-ecstatic woman who is playing dress-ups in her private boudoir, throwing on fashionable guise after guise, and modelling new draperies and dresses, new forms and ever-new forms, in an enthralled game of ongoing blind whimsical creation. They imagine Nature as the fun-loving siren, who laughingly lures us poor human fools into tripping into her enchanting, highly distracting, sensorial traps and forgetting the essential unholdability of Nonduality.

But the song of Kakuan reminds me what these sages seem to have forgotten: that us poor fools are Nature. Our own being-prone-to-delusion, our own flawed mental artifacts, our own karmic penchants for falling in thrall to the illusions, is also Nature. It is not that we are sinners, and Reality is pure. The sinning and forgetfulness --- the roaming of the mind, what Kakuan calls the waywardness of the Bull --- is direct experience of Reality. There is no separation, no division between Nature as a cruel puppeteer controlling our thoughts, and us, the helpless dancers-victims of Her play. No, no. That is all wrong.

To sum up what the crux of the truth is:

To see oneself rightly, see Nature first. See Everything is causality, Everything the Way. Purposeless or purposeful --- forget this. Don't look at Nature through the human, through the ego, through one's human needs. No, look and absorb into yourself first the emotionless wanderings of causality, then make this your self: that is really who you are. With Nature as Self, there is an end to the search. Then the human self has its place. Don't chase figments of the finite human self: you'll be chasing endless fantasies.


Here is the commentary of Kakuan's 10 Bulls again. Linger over it, study it deeply with all your being. Note, one stanza can represent the actuality of one's existence, that is, one's actual relationship to Nature, for many months. So, there is no sense in trying to read all the stanzas as if they could be learnt at once. Few people ever experience the first stage; the last is as rare as a perfect Buddha.


1. The Search for the Bull

The bull has been lost. What need is there to search? Only because of separation from my true nature, I fail to find him. In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks. Far from home, I see many crossroads, but which way is the right one I know not. Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.


2. Discovering the Footprints

Understanding the teaching, I see the footprints of the bull. Then I learn that, just as many utensils are made from one metal, so too are myriad entities made of the fabric of self. Unless I discriminate, how will I perceive the true from the untrue? Not yet having entered the gate, nevertheless I have discerned the path.


3. Perceiving the Bull

When one hears the voice, one can sense its source. As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters one sees the head of the bull! This unity is like salt in water, like colour in dyestuff. The slightest thing is not apart from self.


4. Catching the Bull

He dwelt in the forest a long time, but I caught him today! Infatuation with scenery interferes with his direction. Longing for sweeter grass, he wanders away. His mind still is stubborn and unbridled. If I wish him to submit, I must raise my whip.


To be continued...

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