We are all born as Buddhas – enlightened beings. But the illusion of the world confuses our feeble minds and we forget who we really are. Or what we really are: Natural.
The ancients discovered this truth and wrote about it at great lengths. Except the secrets are hidden in symbolism. Only by decoding the symbolism and practising the advice therein, will you rediscover your Buddha nature.
Once such training is the ancient Japanese science of zazen. Zen is perhaps the most prominent ancient philosophy people know of and practice today.
In Search of the Missing Ox
A classic story of Zen literature, “In Search of the Missing Ox,” explains the nine stages of consciousness disciples must pass through to return to source and experience oneness through zazen.
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1. Starting the Search for the Ox
In Buddhist literature, the Ox is likened to man’s True Nature. Zen is the path that helps the individual find the Ox. The beginner is first initiated into how to sit, regulate the breath and monitor the activity of the mind.
2. Finding the Footprints
The disciple reads philosophy to acquire knowledge, and practices meditation to learn how to quiet the mind. You become aware that the habitual mind is agitated and has been suffering with from restlessness. Now, having slowed down the thought patterns, you grow in confidence that with persistence you will achieve kensho.
3. Catching a Glimpse of the Ox
The disciple experiences a kind of Samadhi which gives you a glimpse of kensho, but it is unstable and you cannot explain the experience with any clarity or assurance.
4. Catching the Ox
The disciple has other experiences of Samadhi during mediation whereby the body falls away and you lose all sense of time. You feel an internal strength building up, but struggle to maintain the sensation for long or during every session of meditation. The Ox keeps running away. However, you are experienced enough now to know that all things come from the same source, even if you are unable to control the mind and return to source. You continue to struggle with unworthy thoughts and give in to temptation. However, you realise your true nature is in you, and at the same time in the external world.
5. Taming the Ox
Samadhi in meditation is still intermittent and the disciple feels a stream of emotion flowing from the heart. However, you still continue to struggle with wandering thoughts. You also question whether you have Samadhi at all. But out of meditation, applying effort and will power, you have control over your mind and can resist temptation.
6. Riding the Ox home
After long practice, you will immediately fall into Samadhi without noticing the bodily sensations. You will simply sit down, draw in a deep breath and will immediately be in Samadhi.
7. Ox lost, man remaining
At this point, you no longer need to pay attention to your breathing during meditation and can even slip into Samadhi during quiet times of the day such as when riding the bus or at work. You do not fret about anything. Your attitude is, I don’t mind what happens.
8. No Ox, no man
This is a state of absolute Samadhi. At this stage, the egoless ego emerges. Although reflections of one’s lifetime, the habitual way of thinking dissolves and both the reflected and the reflecting are swept away.
9. Returning to the source
Once you emerge from “no ox, no man” you automatically return to source. When you look at the world, you see the same scenes you saw the previous day, but now everything talks to you. Habitual consciousness has totally dissolved and you have reached Pure Land. The ninth stage is attaining absolute Samadhi, but maintaining it in your everyday life and living in positive Samadhi. The mind is completely purified and you enjoy perfect freedom.
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