Chapter 8. "The Ten Oxherding Pictures" by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki

Table of Contents
Ideas of Interest from "The Ten Oxherding Pictures"
The Reading Selection from "The Ten Oxherding Pictures"
Topics Worth Investigating

Ox, (detail) Library of Congress

About the author…

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966) is an influential scholar of Japanese Buddhist thought and one of the first persons to introduce Buddhism to the West. He is perhaps best known for his description of Zen history and practice in Zen Buddhism. The existentialist Martin Heidegger, the psychologists Carl Jung and Erich Fromm, and the musician John Cage, all acknowledge D. T. Suzuki's influence on their work and thought.

About the work…

In his Manual of Zen Buddhism,[1] D. T. Suzuki has compiled gathas and prayers, dharanis, and sutras from Zen Masters used in monastery life. The "Ten Oxherding Pictures" is drawn from Chapter IV of that anthology which is entitled "From the Chinese Masters." The ox-herding pictures represent the stages of progress or levels of realization in zen practice. The ordinary, everyday self doing everyday activities can reveal the "true self" through enlightenment. The ox-herder does not retreat from the world.

Ideas of Interest from "The Ten Oxherding Pictures"

  1. What does the ox symbolize in the various series of ox-herding pictures? Why was this animal chosen for this metaphor?

  2. In Kaku-an's account, what is meant by "seeing" or "finding" the traces?

  3. Why does the ox require herding? How in life does one "herd the ox"?

  4. What is the relation between "gain and loss" and "the taming of the ox"?

  5. What is the signification of the "marketplace"?

  6. Once enlightenment is attained, do we remain aloof from the everydayness of the world?

  7. What does Kaku-an mean by returning to the Origin or the Source?



Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. Manual of Zen Buddhism. 1934.