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Observations placeholder

Gentling the Bull – 00 Foreward by Chi-yuan to Master Kakuans Ten Bull pictures



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Gentling the Bull – Foreward by Chi-yuan to Master Kakuan's Ten Bull pictures

The real source of all the Buddhas is the original nature of sentient beings.  Through delusion we fall into the Three Worlds, through awakening we suddenly leap free of the Four Modes of Being.

Therefore there is something for the Buddhas to do and something for the people to carry out.

In compassion, the old sage set up various ways to teach his disciples sometimes the complete and sometimes the partial truth, leading them suddenly or gradually from the shallow to the profound, from the coarse to the subtle.

Finally one of his disciples responded with a smile.  He was foremost in the practise of letting go, with eyes like blue lotus.  Since then the treasure of the true Dharma Eye has spread everywhere, and has reached even our country.

One who has attained to the core of this truth soars without trace like a bird above all laws and norms.  But one attached to the manifold things is caught in speech and misled by words; he is like the clever turtle that tried to wipe out its footsteps with its tail – thus making them more conspicuous.

Long ago, Master Ching-chu [Seikyo], aware of the different abilities of sentient beings, adjusted his teachings to the capabilities of his disciples and prescribed remedies according to their respective illnesses.  To this purpose he drew pictures of gentling a bull.

In these, with the bull becoming gradually white, he shows first the growing development of the disciple and then, at the stage of the spotless purity of the bull, how the ability of the trainee has ripened.  Finally with both man and bull vanished, he illustrates the forgetting of heart and surroundings.

Though at this stage insight has already pierced through to the root, within the surrounding circumstances something remains that is not yet clear.  Here those of shallow root ability tend to fall into erroneous doubt, while students whose understanding is as yet only small or medium, become bewildered and wonder whether they have fallen into empty emptiness, or conversely whether they have been snared by the view of seeming eternalism.

Kuo-an [Kakuan] also composed a poem for each picture.  Like Master Ching-chu [Seikyo] before him, he put his whole heart into the execution of these drawings.  The ten beautiful poems both shine into and are reflected by each other.

Kakuan’s Bull pictures start with the missing of the bull and lead to the return into the origin.  These poems fit the differing abilities and needs of those in training like food and drink appease hunger and thirst.  With them as guides, I, Chi-yuan, have probed into the profound meaning and extracted hidden subtleties – like a jelly-fish lends its eye to the little shrimps that shelter beneath it.

From ‘Searching for the Bull’ to ‘Entering the Market Place’, like attempting to draw a square circle, my prefaces try to describe the indescribable, thus needlessly disturbing the peace of men.

There is no heart to look for, even less so a bull!  How strange the one who enters the market place!

Unless the heart of the ancient masters has been matched in its very depth, the resulting wrong will spread to the successors.  Truly my own Foreward has come from the depths of my heart.

The source of the experience

Gentling the Bull

Concepts, symbols and science items


Higher spirit



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps