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19/09/2016

ZEN BUDDHISM & THE 10 'TENDING THE OX' CHINESE PAINTINGS by e.s. shankar

by e.s. shankar



(CLICK ON PICS FOR ENLARGED VIEW)

I write this not as an expert or even one with an an above average knowledgeable of Zen Buddhism. However, I was extremely impressed with Osho’s writings and speeches on Zen and have borrowed heavily from them. Osho aka Bhagawan Sri Rajneesh died in 1990. CLICK HERE.

But his ashrama or retreat still thrives in Pune, W.India, not far from Bombay in Maharashtra state. He gained much notoriety in the USA for advocating free sex (to get over being obsessed with it) and for owning a fleet of 100 Rolls Royce's bestowed upon him by his followers. He was eventually hounded out of the USA after plea bargaining over illegal immigration charges.





The jury is still out out whether he was a total charlatan or genius. Regardless, when he wrote with a clear mind, he wrote extremely well.

silence is golden

The air is abuzz with great expectations. The assembly is nervous and restless. The gathering of the greatest scholars in the world and thousands, sits in complete silence. The nine Masters are led by Anantha the scholar, Moggalayan the Vedic expert and Sariputta the linguist and philologist. Five hours pass. They cannot leave without a sign from the Enlightened One.

The silence is rudely shattered by uncontrollable laughter. The laughter is neither contagious nor from the Buddha.

The Buddha gets up from under a tree in Sarnath Deer Park in Benares, holiest of Indian cities. He had retired there after achieving Enlightenment in Bodh Gaya in Bihar or ‘Walking Path of Buddha.’ Slowly, measuredly, he walks all the way to the rear of the crowd, looks up, smiles and hands over the flower he has held in silence for five hours to Mahakashyapa. He turns and leaves immediately for Ayodhya, capital of Kosala, where Sri Rama (of the classic Ramayana epic) had ruled from, to wait out his last days.

The silence of the crowd is ever more pregnant. A new Buddha is born two thousand five hundred years ago. A moment is lost for eternity. 

The handing over of the flower is the transference of the key without scriptures, of No-Mind, realisation of ‘one hand clapping,’ Satori and Zazen, Nirvana. Buddha is its founder and Mahakashyapa its first Master or Dhyani. Zen from the Indian Dhyan or consciousness without a single thought, and Dhyani, one who has attained it.

Perish the thought that you should laugh in the presence of the Buddha.

A good joke cannot be explained. Either you get it and laugh spontaneously or you don’t. Good jokes and laughter, realization and laughter, come from the inner silence. There is not even a billionth of a second between the understanding and the laughter. Laughter from silence is divine. Little babies and innocent children laugh toe-curlingly with their entire being. The Buddha of India is a six foot thin ascetic. The Buddha of Japan is a huge smiling, bulky figure to sustain the overflowing belly of mountainous fat.

You laugh at the absurdity of the search all over the world when all the time it is within you. Laugh at solemn, empty temples and prayer-houses where the dead and death are worshipped. Where sad, sad priests and nuns roam. We are the chosen people, the prophets are ours, your god is of stone, my god is good.

Mahakashyapa laughed and was enlightened. You burst with vitality, good health and good nature. People throng to you, what’s the secret of life? Who, what, why, when, where? Not with mind and words alone. You realize it with all your faculties working in peace and harmony! As easy as that, as impossible as that!

The long-cultivated fertile, 'highly developed' Indian brain, partly of Arya descent (not to be confused with the blue eyed-blonde Aryan-hypothesis of Hitler) is responsible for founding four religions. St.Shankara’s Hinduism, Siddhartha’s Buddhism, Mahavira’s Jainism and Guru Nanak’s Sikhism are all products of the Indian mind. But Buddhism could not develop further in India.

The Indian psyche is too inward looking, fatalistic, concerned only with self, with rigid rules and hierarchies. Humanity and its fate is of no concern to it with too much dismissed as fixed and unquestionable. St.Shankara from Kerala, Malayam had conducted an unarmed, peaceful one man holy war to ensure that his beloved Hinduism would not be usurped by ‘these new fangled’ ideas.

Bodhidharma, an Indian and the 6th Master after Mahakashyapa also discovered tea. Bodhidharma (Pu - ti - damo in Chinese) brought Buddhism to China, and is credited with starting the Shaolin Temple associated with meditation, Chinese martial arts and more. CLICK HERE and HERE. More importantly he oversaw Buddhism fusing with mystic Taoism to give Cha’an which took root, tree and branch in China. There a soulless, highly moralistic, puritanical Confucianism was trampled by it. The Chinese mind cannot conceive a lasting religion. But its Middle Way can provide sustenance for new ideas. In 600 AD there were already thirty thousand Buddhist temples and two million Buddhist monks in China . The Buddhists made up about 5% of the Chinese population then!

But the true flowering and blossoming of Buddhism reaches its zenith in Japan, where Cha'an transformed from Dhyan became Zen! The Japanese are the anti-thesis of the Hindu, the Oriental extrovert to the Arya introvert. Do not be fooled by western notions of the ‘inscrutable oriental.’ The inquisitive, patient mind of the Japanese is reflected in its methodical aim for beauty AND perfection. For making the mundane into highly sophisticated art forms. From simple gift wrapping to Chanoyu or tea serving, carp breeding, Ikebana floral arrangement, Karesansui Zen gardens for meditations, moss gardens, cryptomera, cultivating bonsai trees, kyujutsu or archery, karate, judo, kendo, origami, sumo wrestling, gymnastics, athletics, steel sword making, Kabuki theatre, ritualistic colourful festivals, brilliant kimono, cars, tatami houses, cameras and CD players and more. Even death is honourable, almost a religion in itself, made into an art form by ritualistic sepukku or hara kiri.

The Hindu is not concerned with the external, seeing only Maya, the illusion, and leans towards one final death to escape re-birth. He sees poverty as his Karma and does nothing. The secrets of noiseless Flying Vimana of Ravana and Thermo-nuclear missile of Aswatthama are lost forever, sciences dead for millenia.

tending the ox




‘Tending The Ox’, a series of nine connected ancient paintings from China, ends up in Japan in 1300 AD. The allegory is one of man as a farmer searching for his lost consciousness. In the seventh painting, the Ox, the beast of ignorance, has disappeared, conquered, and the farmer sits in contemplation of the next step. He no longer has any use for his farming tools and implements. The eighth canvas is one of bliss, of flowing river, blossoming tree and celestial music. The ninth and final painting is an empty canvas, signifying silence and peace, the No-Mind of Nirvana.

But this is challenged by Chinese records which reveal the existence of a tenth canvas. The enlightened man is seen heading back towards ordinary humanity to share his experiences, to lead others on to the true path! The Buddha lived in Bihar and Benares for 40 years after attaining Nirvana. He did not disappear to some remote spot in the mountains of the Himalayas! CLICK HERE and HERE  for further discussions on the ten paintings.

A seed was found in India, took roots in China and blossomed in Japan. (That's literary beauty from Osho).

But it’s not over. The Chinese mind has gone further. These are exciting times! - a tribute to Osho.

In his inspiring discourse on Zen Buddhism, Osho beautifully illustrates the relationship between a guru and his disciple. He makes a penetratingly exquisite observation on how the parents of a young eagle deliberately push their beloved ward off the nest when it is poised between the desire to fly and the fear of the unknown. The approach of the parents who know and wait for the exact moment the child is ready to fly, is gradual and over many months. But the actual moment of the push is sudden. Zen disciples have been known to achieve enlightenment by the most unorthodox of sudden actions. One achieved such a realization when delivered a kick to his chest at a very precise moment by a knowing Master! Osho talks about meditation being ‘not thinking at all’ and of ‘falling awake, not asleep.

haiku


                      Red dragonflies
                             Flowing like a ripple
                                         Towards the crimson sky - Miura Yuzuru

When you read such Haiku (17-syllable) poems and its key 'cutting' word, you ‘know’ the meaning of it without having to try and understand it. The reading, experience and understanding is simultaneous and total. That is a Zen experience!

Thus, yoga, transcendental meditation, haiku, kendo, kyujitsu et al are means to ends, not ends in themselves. It would appear that even the ends are not final, but the beginnings of new journeys and voyages.

And therein may lie true hope and continuity for the human race.

We are all of 1 race, the Human Race!

2 comments:

S.Doraisamy said...

Nice! So perfect. You are a good artist and painter I suppose?

Donplaypuks® said...

No, these pics are all from the internet. Only the writing is mine.