Zen Ox-herding 9: Returning to the Source

He has returned to the Origin, come back to the Source,

but his steps have been taken in vain.

It is as though he were now blind and deaf.

Seated in his hut, he hankers not for things outside.

Streams meander on of themselves,

red flowers naturally bloom red.

After dissolving into Oneness, the world returns. This stage is where you understand the world as it is in its true nature, or suchness. In other words, you can see things as they are without conceptualising them.

All constructs of self and other are dropped, and things are seen to arise spontaneously and naturally. Ordinary day to day life is experienced as profound. Everything is a manifestation of Buddha Nature, or the Source.

This is encapsulated in the famous Zen saying:

Before studying Zen,

Mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers;

While studying Zen,

Mountains are no longer mountains and rivers are no longer rivers;

After enlightenment,

Mountains are once again mountains and rivers again are rivers.

The previous picture (Ox & Self Forgotten) represents the moment when mountains are no longer mountains, and this picture is when the mountains are once again mountains.

You’ve finally stopped distorting the world through your thoughts. You realise there was no need to go running around searching for this truth because you possessed it from the start. But if you hadn’t searched, you wouldn’t have had this realisation.

Ordinary reality is the Supreme reality. Nirvana is Samsara. There’s no separation. Now everything can be accepted as it is and you’re ready to serve.

Next: Entering the Marketplace

Painting by Jikihara Gyokusei and Verse by Kuoan Shiyuan

Read whole series here