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May 12, 2009


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We see signs that indicate there may be an ox. We see glimpses of what we think is the ox; or is it just a tree limb? We are not sure we are up to the catch, but maybe just being on the path following the ox is what's important. Maybe we are destined to just keep looking.

Mike F

I am a big fan of how you wrote about this picture because I can relate to your poem. I am unable to make this commitment for myself. Only the possibility of doing this for others has the power to make me commit to letting go of old habits because doing things for myself IS my old habit. How do we do this for others?


Hee Haw!!! THUD (hits ground) ... Hee Haw!!! THUMP (hits ground and breaks leg) ... Hee Haw!!! CRACK (head splits open) ... Hee Haaa....

A bit of humor does help along the way. :) Actually, it's necessary.

Barry Briggs

Alice, I'm glad you're here to provide the much-needed counterweight to my generally morose view...!


This all is very amusing indeed, especially if to take into consideration that I'm not only the brave hunter with broken leg, but also the ox on the other end of the rope, scared, enraged, exhausted and a bit strangulated. Or at least it feels this way :)

Ben Howard

Barry -

Nadia Boulanger once said she loved tradition but despised habit. Every day as practice the guitar I encounter my habits, and they are indeed inexhaustible. I often end up playing what they want me to play, not what what I know the phrase requires. Your poem is right on the mark.


Lauren Crane

Well, this must be me. As Alice describes, right in the middle of an ox rodeo. Constantly thrown, constantly climbing back on to try again.

This gives Texas a whole new meaning for me. Cowboy boots are now transformed into Buddhist footwear. If I could only find a big rodeo belt buckle emblazoned with a gold enso and "mu" hammered into the leather in back.

Barry Briggs

Hi Val - Thank you for this wonderful view: we are both the hunter and the hunted! Riding an ox, in search of an ox.

Hi Ben - Thank you for sharing your own experience, and also Nadia Boulanger words. There's a kind of consciousness in tradition that doesn't appear in habit, I think.

Hi Lauren - If you find one o' them buckles, you let me know, hear? 'Cause I wanna wrap one o' them suckers 'round my robes. Then, when I get thrown offa that bull, I'll remember why I got up on that thing to begin with!

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  • Zen teachers sometimes use the Ten Ox Herding Pictures to describe the path of awakening. Within this metaphorical framework, the ox symbolizes the secretive, unruly human mind.

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