Zen Bunny and the Ten Bulls, Part 2: Discovering the Pawprints

 

Paul Reps’ translation of the comment for this second of the traditional Zen Buddhist Oxherding Pictures (the Ten Bulls), from _Zen Flesh, Zen Bones_ (page 138):

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.

Because my mind works largely on puns, I have been contemplating the double-meaning of ‘bull’ in this search for truth.  As we’ll see through this series, there are some interesting twists and insights given in the carefully chosen words.

“Unless I discriminate, how will I perceive the true from the untrue?”

Yes, that is indeed a huge part of my path.  Seeing the bull for what it is, I must declare it untrue so I can know what is true.  The truth isn’t easy to discern, and along this path, there is plenty of bullsh*t to step in.  But being able to see the bullsh*t for what it is indicates that you are on the right path to finding and mastering the bull.  It’s better to be able to follow the path without stepping in the BS, but temporarily dirty paws shouldn’t stop us from pursuing the truth.  As we grow in experience and discrimination, and employ our twitching noses appropriately, we will be able to avoid BS and do a better job tracking down the truth.

Here is the original from Reps’ book:

 

Zen Bunny and the Ten Bulls:  

A Cute Adaptation of

the Traditional Ox Herding 10 Woodcuts

See the individual post links for background, references, and commentary.

Part 1:  The Search for the Bull

Part 2:  Discovering the Pawprints

Part 3:  Perceiving the Bull

Part 4:  Catching the Bull

Part 5:  Taming the Bull

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