Cahiers du Vertebrata

a human being is never what he is but the self he seeks

Uspeti se…

…Zašto se na zapadnim jezicima kaže “pasti u zaljubljenost? (tomber amoureux, fall in love) Bilo bi prikladnije “uspeti se”. Ljubav uzdiže kao i molitva. Uzdiže i zanosi. Kod kukaca istokrilaša sve spolno razvijene jedinke odmah dobiju i svoj par krila. Ponovno sam je gledao uza se jedne noći na pristaništu u mom rodnom gradu. Ljeto, tišina, zora se bliži. Poznavao sam je tjedan dana (Kant, Hermann Hesse, tenis). Smatrao je divnom. Hodali smo jednakim korakom, bez ikakvog šuma. Bez poteškoća bih prepoznao mjesto na kojemu sam osjetio nešto poput zasljepljujuće razderotine u noći, na kojemu mi je sreća proždirala pluća. Odjednom je život izoštren, muzikalan, razumljiv. Samo ništa ne govoriti. Krajičkom oka pokušao sam vidjeti kako s njom stoje stvari. Poluosmijeh otkriva bijele zube, dug korak, krijesta vala. Ni riječi. Ipak je trebalo nešto učiniti. Zagrlio sam veliki lakirani jarbol koji se uzdiže na molu i uzverao se do vrha ne osjetivši napor. Gore, posljednja svjetla luke odražavaju se u tamnoj vodi. Ona – nije veća od mladice ruže. Treba vjerovati da i ovaj oblik očitovanja ima svoju rječitost: kad sam se spustio, bez daha, ruku punih špranja, našao sam je kako se ludo smije, očiju sjajnih od nestrpljenja, već napola razodjevena. Uspeti se…

(Nicolas Bouvier – Riba-Škorpion)

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What I Do Is Me, For That I Came

 

Arvo Pärt – Have you thanked God for this failure already?

“What are you doing? What are you writing there?” The girl, who was around ten, asked me. “I’m trying to write music, but it’s not turning out well.”, I said. And then the unexpected words from her: “Have you thanked God for this failure already?”

 

My Live Life – In Absentia: Invocation & Pastimes

 

Concert “My Live Life – In Absentia”, Zagreb, May 26th 2017

Track listing:
1. “Introduction”
2. “Invocation” (trad./Stanojkovski Grappone – Kuzmanić)
3. “Pastimes” (trad./Stanojkovski Grappone – Kuzmanić)

Matija Dedić – piano
Minja Kuzmanić – vocal, percussion
Darko Stanojkovski Grappone – percussion
Davor Hrvoj – announcer

Sound recorded by Tomislav Unušić.
Video recorded by Tomislav Bušić and Tomislav Unušić.
Mixed & Mastered by Tomislav Unušić.
Live sound by Neven Zebić.
Lighting by Tomislav Maglečić.

Live at KUC Travno – Zagreb, Croatia, May 26th, 2017

Mikloš Varheđi, Summa tautologica

SeanKernan-SecretBooks-Snake

Sean Kernan, Secret books, Snake

 

 

1.

Današnji zastupnik minimal–arta jeste onaj moderni Noje koji nema vremena da sačeka poziv Gospoda, a ipak ne ume da započne posao dovoljno rano. U svakom slučaju pogrešno shvata prirodu stvari, ta neka mu neprimetno preko lica promine samo jedna prava misao, život mu je već na tački ključanja.
Saznavši za projekat Tamaša Sentjobija o standardu minimalne egzistencije odista se možemo osećati u Evropi dvadesetog veka. Umetnik je u središtu sveta došao do rešenja, ako sledimo njegove savete, svi se možemo spasiti na njegovoj barci.
Šta je zadatak drugoga, naravno ne znam. S moje strane dobro je ono na što ću najmanje nasesti. “Bežao bih kao bez duše ako bi me neko potražio da mi učini dobro.” (H. D. Toro) Moja pristrasnost, greška, zatvorenost, predrasuda uopšte javlja se u slici “meni dopadljivoj”. Paja (slama) – kaže Unamuno. Baciti, sve odbaciti. Iz romana opis predela, karaktere, iz pesme rime, iz napeva ono što je umiljato. Nije potreban smer, već duh. Ne dubina, nego problesak. Osećam, “umetnik zemlje” će me kad–tad silom prinuditi da sagradim njegovu piramidu.
Po Alenu Finkelkrautu, celokupna umetnička avangarda, koja je sanjala o tome da se potpuno oslobodi tradicije, rođena je pod čarolijom Marksove velike vizije po kojoj se istorija čovečanstva deli na dva dela: preistorijski (carstvo nužnosti u kojem je čovek izručen nepoznatim zakonima) i na pravu istoriju koja započinje proleterskom revolucijom kada čovek konačno ovlada svojom sudbinom.
S ubeđenjem i trezveno izjavljujem: čoveku, ukoliko je čovek, nije potrebno pouzdano i egzaktno znanje. (Naravno, tome ne protivreči ni to što takvo znanje do sada još nije pribavio, a nikada ga ni neće pribaviti.) Ali ono što mu je potrebno jeste da to i dokuči.
Jalova žena je preklinjala Izraela iz Koznice, neka se moli za nju kako bi rodila dete. Rabin se zamislio: – Moja majka je dala ogrtač na dar Balu Šemu Tovu, isto to ga je molila. Sledeće godine sam se ja rodio. – Hvala! Doneću ti najlepši ogrtač! – zahvaljivala mu je. Magid je uz osmeh odgovorio: – Ne, tebi to neće pomoći. Moja majka nije znala za ovu priču.

2.
Između prvog i poslednjeg trenutka nema znanja. Život nije ispravljanje, nije razvoj, nije pronalazak, nije pomaganje. Nema čoveka koji bi podneo dobrotu. Niko nema pravo na skromnost. Život jeste: sazrevanje.
Sve napreduje prema sebi samom. Nema sekularizovanog sveta. Svet jeste: religiozan. Sva odstupanje od normalnosti (privilegije, titule, medalje, činovi) jesu kompenzacije grešaka počinjenih na nevidljivoj strani. Odstupiti u prvom trenutku od svega dobijenog (stvaranje) moguće je samo prema ne–suštastvenom. Svako trenutno, merljivo i vidljivo dejstvo je isključeno. Scijentifički proizvod, izmislila ga je nauka za dokaz i održavanje svoje nužnosti i neophodnosti. Samo je nesporazum plodonosan. Pravci modernog mišljenja i umetnosti svojom sudbinom razvijaju nesporazume koji se javljaju već pri njihovom rađanju. 
Groznicu, napregnutost, užurbanost, napetost, ludilo odbacujem (žrtva), jer neću da kažem nešto što ne postoji. I ne odande gde ja nisam. “Smisao života se sastoji u tome što je nerazumno reći da nema nikakvog smisla.” (Nils Bor). Život iskazuje samog sebe mojim posredstvom. “Ko ne ume da dadne više nego što je dobio, polagano počinje da truli.” (Žorž Bernanos)
Na Istoku je karma, na Zapadu politika. Karma: postajem jedno sa samim sobom, razvijam sve svoje mogućnosti koje sam dobio, svet (Celinu) prenosim u sebe. Politika je privremeno i prividno falsifikovanje karme. Onda sam silan (naivan), onda tražim vlast ako više nisam ja sam. Ne postoje dve ličnosti koje bi u jednom trenutku bile na istom mestu.
Nije potrebno odgađanje, niti isključivanje. Suprotstaviti se zapetljavanju. Na strašni sud ne mogu da umesto sebe pošaljem fotografiju.

3.
Ko svet probudi iza sna, neka ne računa na smrt! – od Grka i Platona to je umesto Hegela mogao reći bilo koji “moderni” mislilac. “Ono što je moderno, više nije to.” (Dali) Ono, odnosno što jeste: više nije to, ono na čemu je izgrađena celokupna kultura, to jeste: Ja.
“Jednom je u prahaosu šerpa uhvatila sebe za dršku i pobrkala je s nogom Boga. Može i sto puta zagoreti – od tada sebi pripisuje stvaranje.” (Đeze Hatar) Ono što u interesu egzistencije trajno stvara i održava u nama nezadovoljene (čulne) zahteve – njihovo nestajanje značilo bi i njeno nestajanje, koje uzduž i po uopštenosti (sistem, stil, ustrojstvo, pravac itd.) vidi i organizuje svet, dakle ono što je u nama moderno, i shvata Hegelovu misao, to je: Ja. Ono što koristi svete stvarnosti u interesu plodnosti sopstvenog naučnog parcijalnog gledišta (npr. psihoanaliza), čemu je svaka mistična i lična činjenica samo tema za razgovor, to je u nama: Ja.
Ono što sakralno zatvoreni poredak (čovek) ne razara, jer ne ume ni da ga dotakne, samo je prema njemu slep, time gubi pravo duha, jer uvek, uvek više želi da kaže, to je: Ja.
Nema skeptičnog čoveka. Ko korakne: već je vernik. Sumnja (poricanje, gordost, privrženost, iznenađenje) kao i sve ostalo, samo je odstupanje od normalnosti: ispoljavanje. Reći više. Nešto je pridodato. Ono gde sam i u šta sam sumnjao, tu sam i utoliko poremećen: nisam prisutan. Deformisano vidim, privid i suštinu ne na svojim mestima. Mesto korena je nevidljivo. Molitva: zahvaliti nevidljivom što traje, što postoji. Celokupnim životom zahvaliti. Živim zadivljen nevidljivim. Znati da je ono što vidim: simbol. Zalud. Još ga nema. “Čovek: celina.”
Ispoljavanje je dobila životinja. Logos je čovekov. Stanovati pored Boga.
Ja može nekoga postaviti na prazno mesto, ali čoveka (sakralna ličnost) time ne može prevariti: tražiće patnju i bol kako bi mogao osetiti ukus prisustva.

4.
Jezik: beskrajna tautologija (Vitgenštajn) – čovek je stvoren prema slici i podobiju Boga.
Prispeli smo do kulture ključaonice.
Zamišljenim upoznavanjem stvari koje se ne mogu neposredno iskusiti naša situacija nije postala lakša. Danas svaka (opasna) suprotnost pristiže iz njenog smera i oblika. “Svet smo lišili njegove čari time što smo poništili udaljenost.” (L. Klages) Ako kažem: čovek, a ne umesto toga: „vreća puna starudija” (Jung), ja zbog toga još nisam konzervativan, ili anahroničan. Svet i danas održava trideset šest pravednika.
Ako nešto gledam kroz ključaonicu, često zaboravim: da li sam napolju ili unutra. Ja lično pak nemam pretenzija na onu neizvesnost i uzbuđenje, što ga ovako postiže i znači veliki deo moderne kulture.
“Dobar umetnik uvek nešto petlja oko svoga rajferšlusa.” (Pati Smit) Da, tako se sve srozalo prema gore: prema Prividu. Mistika je tako postala ono što se vidi spolja: prigušena telesnost. Tako čovekov život oduzima ona umetnost koja uči rutini. Nema ključaonice. To je kvarnost umetnosti: “deformisana senzibilnost koja je zasnovana na individualnoj utakmici, na hijerarhiji vrednosti koja nam je nametnuta i tako dalje” (Gombrovič). 
Ne posredno, već neposredno. Lično. Ne budućnost, već večnost. Svoje misli odrediti prema gore, prema otvorenom prostoru. Ljubav koja je postala vidljiva: politika. Ako činim dobro, onda ne znam ništa (vedrina). Osećati, ne govoriti. Granice se ne mogu rasplinuti. Ako stojim tamo gde jesam, onda se ne vidim. Duh je samo tamo gde se ništa ne vidi. Život postoji kao tkanje između reči. 
Kao što “građani ne dobijaju svoja osnovna prava od države, nego poseduju svoja ljudska prava” (Janoš Kiš), tako umesto “svako umetnik”: svako je čovek.
Moral: nevidljiv. Nije stvar naučnika, ni umetnika, ni stručnjaka.
Čovek je u Celini slobodan.

5.
Mnoge stvari kojima me je učio Učitelj razumeo sam tek mnogo kasnije. Jedna od njih: nestanak pitanja.
– Uvek i u svemu tražio si veliko, lepo, novo, značajno. Učio si od predmeta i ljudi, od prirode i od žena. Odnosno učio bi: ako ne pitaš. Pitati znači: nešto već znaš, misliš da znaš, i pitanjem ga odmakneš, držiš daleko od sebe. Potrebni su bolest i katastrofa, kao kod većine ljudi, da bi bar na trenutak ponestalo tvojih pitanja, da već ni za njih ne bi imao snage. Drugi tada postaju religiozni, ti si video i oslovio mene koji sam stalno tu bio. Naravno, srednje stanje je ubrzo minulo, jedva si čekao da možeš pitati. Zanimalo te je sve, moje obrazovanje, moj način života, moje iskustvo. Zato si pitao i pitao.
– Zašto me nisi upozorio?
Učitelj se nasmešio:
– Možda danas više ne treba da tako nežno postupam s tobom. Ojačao si, uskoro ćeš stići do prekretnice. Pitanja će nestati, ali svaka izjava će zvučati kao da je pitanje. Mnogi se tokom celog života neće odavde dalje maći. Potom će konačno nestati pitanja. Neće biti lepših ili važnijih reči, odnosno svaka reč će biti podjednako važna. Budi spokojan. Jezik nije gospodar čoveka. Pitanje nije ljudska mera. Nemaš razloga za radoznalost. Ako te nešto ne interesuje, ne prihvataš to zajedno sa svim posledicama, pogotovo ne zajedno s onim o čemu nemaš ni pojma, nastavi dalje. Do sada su tvoje greške bile u lepom, jer si ih tamo skrivao, sada će bar dospeti na svoje pravo mesto: u ono što ne razumeš, i što ti se ne dopada. Ono pored čega prolaziš. Lagano se otvaraš, sve više osećaš. Sve treba da pripustiš sebi.

6.
Dejstvo i vrednost su nezavisni. U jedinstvu prvog trenutka (“Naka bude!”) već je sve dato. Vreme, komunikacija: pasti. Kultura razvučenog drugog trenutka. 
Prispevši u Duh nestaju karma i politika (Ja). 
Ako još znaš nešto, onda nisi tamo. Onaj ko nešto zna, zalud pita. Sve je laž što ne stiže kroz onu prazninu koja jeste Ličnost.
Nauka: loš početak. Ne ume da se suprotstavi iskušenju (Isus se sa stene baca u dubinu). Polazi od negativnog kako nikada ne bi umeo prispeti do kraja.
Groznica, pomoć samo simuliraju Celinu. Posle njihovog nestanka moguća je aktuelnost. Osećanje je tačno. Ne iskorišćavati u praksi. Za ljubav visokog ne prećutati nisko. Paradoks pustiti u srce. 
Prividna protivrečnost: tautologija.
Ispred života ne bežati u tajnu, u dubinu, u pitanje, u književnost. U lepu književnost (primarno): samocenzura.
Psić se igra sa svojim povocem. Umetnost.
Crkva: mesto štrajka glađu. 
Celovitost si izgubio u reči. Opšte, ideja, vaspitanje, iskustveni dokaz, zakoni, slika sveta, razoreno trojstvo.
Stvari jedva čekaju da ih ugledaš.

7.
Slike Li Jung–Čija (Sve i Ništa, 5=0, 1+1=0 itd.), slikane šezdesetih godina i izložene u “Lisson Galery” u Londonu, ali i njegove pesme i ličnost karakteriše, prema Giju Bretu, što je došao i sa Istoka i sa Zapada, a istovremenoni iz jednog pravca. Tri.
Onaj ko je samo stigao do Atile Jožefa i – kao da se time zbiva bilo šta bitno – spoljnjeg cenzora (“moj vođa”) zamenio unutarnjim, njemu držanje Lija ne može mnogo reći. Do smisla i pojma potpune oslobođenosti od stava bliže je stigao bar onaj ko zna da je istovremeno s nastankom Manifesta komunističke partije Henri David Toro realizovao Valdenov život. Što na Istoku zvuči “ako je noć, sviće” – prema kardinalu Njumanu znači: ne počinjimo uživanjem, nego Isusovim Krstom!
Oprezno treba koristiti velike reči, razume se, jer ljudi jedva čekaju kako bi se uplašili. Velika reč Pola Rikoa, na primer, jeste askeza: “Posredstvom intelektualne i moralne askeze refleksija postaje pogodna da samosvest uzdigne do prvobitnog odobravanja.” – Pol Klodel isto to kaže jednostavnije kada tradiciju upoređuje s čovekom koji hoda, čija jedna noga mora biti na zemlji, a druga u vazduhu: ako su obe noge na zemlji, onda ne napreduje, ako su pak obe u vazduhu, pašće.
Precizno shvatajući (ilustrujući) askeza je dakle: hod.
Prisustvo: ravnoteža. Baština: čovek.

8.
Težina i lakoća današnje situacije jeste: pri rano probuđenoj svesti, ni na jednom njenom stupnju ne sme se zaustaviti. Treba dospeti do najgušće tačke Ja, i tu sve odbaciti. Neprimetno proći naravno, jer ako se još i to vidi, onda je to ili prevara (ako čovek danas vidi da nešto usporava, bezuslovno misli na policijska kola), ili ovde ostaje neko stojeći, truleći (pranje sudova, rešavanje ukrštenih reči, umetnost protesta itd.). Ne stati, odbacujući Ja do potpune osetljivosti. Dalje, dalje. Nije dovoljno izgraditi zapećak od stava koji se procenjuje kao pouzdan, kao što sugerišu proizvodi totalitarne logike (nauka, umetnost, religija itd.). Za svako ispoljavanje se može reći: samo je jedno od. Strahuje za sopstvenu zatvorenost: za loše, za malo. Za ono za što se uopšte može strahovati: što nije dovoljno.
Ne biti glupan vlasti, ne zatvoriti se (ludilo, maska, životinja, starenje, žena, smrt).
Moj učitelj je učio: ne strahuj za svet, za Zemlju. Niko ne ume da prouzrokuje štetu u onome što nije on sam, što nije njegovo, ili nije njegova tvorevina. Hibris.
Ako naiđem na masu koja je isuviše bučna: već sam ja najgrlatiji.

9.
Drugi trenutak je doba odsutnosti Boga. Nije on zbog samog sebe: to je otvorenost. Zatvoriti se: provocirati (nevidljivo učiniti vidljivim, odnos dete–roditelj u svesti Boga, fantastično i ironija u sistemima nasilja itd.).
Svako ljudsko delo dobija svoju snagu od njegovog “Jesam”. Tvoraštvo tvorevine: tautologija. A to da jeste tautologija, samo Ja može reći. Iz smera prvi i treći (Celina) tautologija znači: Logos.
Odbacivši Ja počinje da se realizuje drugi: čovek. Dolazi iz prvog, ide ka trećem. Ako to zaboravim, ili zataškam: počinjem da se plašim i želim da se svi plaše. Nešto, i sve više, spolja je dodano, ravnoteža (čovek, zemlja) naginje se ka prividu. Ljudsko znanje je spomen na prvi trenutak: prihvatam, krećem dalje, od toga rastem.
“Pesma je središte i nedostatak muzike.” (Mišo) Tamo gde se minimum i maksimum podudaraju, to je mesto tvorevine. Ako ispravno živim i kažem: slika (Logos, tautologija). Svaka ličnost (slika, svet) gradi se odozgo. Nevidljivo stiže, smisao ulazi tek u trećem trenutku. (“Istina jeste: nebeska.”) Ako dve ličnosti kažu istovetno, drugačije zvuči. Slike jedna pored druge.
“Radosna vest je u svakom slučaju drugačija i drugačija. O ovom istom svetu.” (Geza Pernecki)
Ovo je „druga kosmogonija”: čovek je odrastao u Logosu. Samo ga onda vidim ako ga pustim u sebe. Ako pomaže, još nisam tamo. Ako govorim o njemu, već o drugom govorim. (Vreme.) Jedan blesak. Ništa pre, ništa posle njega. Ime koje Logos još i već može podneti: tautologija.
Ako se nešto dogodilo, ništa se ne menja. Samo drugačije padaju senke.

(pr. Sava Babić)

Mikloš Varheđi, …Ne dopusti

 

Robert M Pirsig (1928-2017)

“The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called ‘yourself’.

“The study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself. Working on a motorcycle, working well, caring, is to become part of a process, to achieve an inner peace of mind. The motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon.”

— Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Maynard Pirsig (September 6, 1928 – April 24, 2017)

pirsigbike

http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-robert-pirsig-obituary-20170424-story.html

First we feel. Then we fall.

Adaptation of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake

Finnegans Wake imagined technology which did not even exist. It is a novel—if we are to call it such—written for the 21st century, and perhaps the only way it can be adapted in other media is through the internet’s nonlinear, labyrinthine structures; the online project First We Feel Then We Fall does just that, creating a multimedia adaptation of Finnegans Wake that “transfers” the novel ‘to audiovisual language,’ and demonstrates the novel as—in the words of The Guardian’s Billy Mills—’ the book the web was invented for.

 

http://www.firstwefeelthenwefall.com/

My great blue bedroom, the air so quiet, scarce a cloud.
In peace and silence. I could have stayed up there for always only.
It’s something fails us. First we feel. Then we fall. And let her rain
now if she likes. Gently or strongly as she likes. Anyway let her
rain for my time is come. I done me best when I was let. Think-
ing always if I go all goes. A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles and
is there one who understands me? One in a thousand of years of
the nights? All me life I have been lived among them but now
they are becoming lothed to me. And I am lothing their little
warm tricks. And lothing their mean cosy turns. And all the
greedy gushes out through their small souls. And all the lazy
leaks down over their brash bodies. How small it’s all! And me
letting on to meself always. And lilting on all the time. I thought
you were all glittering with the noblest of carriage. You’re only
bumpkin. I thought you the great in all things, in guilt and in
glory. You’re but a puny. Home! My people were not their sort
out beyond there so far as I can. For all the bold and bad and
bleary they are blamed, the seahags. No! Nor for all our wild
dances in all their wild din. I can seen meself among them, alla-
niuvia pulchrabelled. How she was handsome, the wild Amazia,
when she would seize to my other breast! And what is she weird,
haughty Niluna, that she will snatch from my ownest hair! For
’tis they are the stormies. Ho hang!Hang ho! And the clash of
our cries till we spring to be free.Auravoles, they says, never heed
of your name! But I’m loothing them that’s here and all I lothe.
Loonely in me loneness. For all their faults. I am passing out. O
bitter ending! I’ll slip away before they’re up. They’ll never see.
Nor know. Nor miss me. And it’s old and old it’s sad and old it’s

628 UP

sad and weary I go back to you, my coldfather, my cold mad
father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere
size of him, the moyles and moyles of it,moananoaning, makes me
seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms. I see them
rising! Save me from those therrbleprongs! Two more. Onetwo
moremens more. So. Avelaval. Myleaves have drifted from me.
All. But one clings still. I’ll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff!
So soft this morning, ours. Yes. Carry me along, taddy, like you
done through the toy fair! If I seen him bearing down on me now
under whitespread wings like he’d come from Arkangels, I sink
I’d die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup. Yes,
tid. There’s where. First. We passthrough grass behush the bush
to. Whish! A gull. Gulls. Far calls. Coming, farEnd hereUs
then. Finn, again! TakeBussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thous
endsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a
long the

 

PARIS,
1922-1939.

http://www.finwake.com/1024chapter41/1024fwtekst41.htm#627

Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, recent talks

Zen Ox-Herding Pictures by John Cage

In 1988, Ray Kass, professor emeritus of art, Virginia Tech, invited seminal composer, philosopher, writer, and visual artist John Cage (American, 1912-1992) to paint at the Mountain Lake Workshop in Blacksburg. They began a series of experiments with watercolor pigments that resulted in 55 densely marked paper towels.
Two decades later, Cage’s pupil and friend Stephen Addiss created three sets of images that echoed the narrative of the “Ox-herding Pictures,” an illustrated parable to which Cage often referred in his discussions and writings.

 

 

 

The Ten Oxherding Pictures, D.T. Suzuki

 

Introduction and verse by 廓庵師遠 Kuoan Shiyuan [Kakuan Shien], 12th century,

translated by D. T. Suzuki (鈴木大拙貞太郎 Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō, 1870-1966)

D. T. Suzuki’s first version:
“The Ten Oxherding Pictures,” translated by D. T. Suzuki, in Manual of Zen Buddhism, Kyoto: Eastern Buddhist Society, 1934. London: Rider & Company, 1950, New York: Grove Press, 1960. pp. 150-171.

THE TEN OXHERDING PICTURES

Preliminary

The author of these “Ten Oxherding Pictures” is said to be a Zen master of the Sung Dynasty known as Kaku-an Shi-en (Kuo-an Shih-yuan) belonging to the Rinzai school. He is also the author of the poems and introductory words attached to the pictures. He was not however the first who attempted to illustrate by means of pictures stages of Zen discipline, for in his general preface to the pictures he refers to another Zen master called Seikyo (Ching-chu), probably a contemporary of his, who made use of the ox to explain his Zen teaching. But in Seikyo’s case the gradual development of the Zen life was indicated by a progressive whitening of the animal, ending in the disappearance of the whole being. There were in this only five pictures, instead of ten as by Kaku-an. Kaku-an thought this was somewhat misleading because of an empty circle being made the goal of Zen discipline. Some might take mere emptiness as all important and final. Hence his improvement resulting in the “Ten Oxherding Pictures” as we have them now.

According to a commentator of Kaku-an’s Pictures, there is another series of the Oxherding Pictures by a Zen master called Jitoku Ki (Tzu-te Hui), who apparently knew of the existence of the Five Pictures by Seikyo, for Jitoku’s are six in number. The last one, No. 6, goes beyond the stage of absolute emptiness where Seikyo’s end: the poem reads:

“Even beyond the ultimate limits there extends a passageway,
Whereby he comes back among the six realms of existence;
Every worldly affair is a Buddhist work,
And wherever he goes he finds his home air;
Like a gem he stands out even in the mud,
Like pure gold he shines even in the furnace;
Along the endless road [of birth and death] he walks sufficient unto himself,
In whatever associations he is found he moves leisurely unattached.”

Jitoku’s ox grows whiter as Seikyo’s, and in this particular respect both differ from Kaku-an’s conception. In the latter there is no whitening process. In Japan Kaku-an’s Ten Pictures gained a wide circulation, and at present all the oxherding books reproduce them. The earliest one belongs I think to the fifteenth century. In China however a different edition seems to have been in vogue, one belonging to the Seikyo and Jitoku series of pictures. The author is not known. The edition containing the preface by Chu-hung, 1585, has ten pictures, each of which is preceded by Pu-ming’s poem. As to who this Pu-ming was, Chu-hung himself professes ignorance. In these pictures the ox’s colouring changes together with the oxherd’s management of him. The quaint original Chinese prints are reproduced below, and also Pu-ming’s verses translated into English.

Thus as far as I can identify there are four varieties of the Oxherding Pictures: (1) by Kaku-an, (2) by Seikyo, (3) by Jitoku, and (4) by an unknown author.

Kaku-an’s “Pictures” here reproduced are by Shubun, a Zen priest of the fifteenth century. The original pictures are preserved at Shokokuji, Kyoto. He was one of the greatest painters in black and white in the Ashikaga period.

Paintings traditionally attributed to 天章周文 Tenshō Shūbun (1414-1463), ten circular paintings mounted as a handscroll, ink and light color on paper, Muromachi period, late fifteenth century (32 × 181.5 cm), Shōkokuji temple, Kyoto

I

Searching for the Ox. The beast has never gone astray, and what is the use of searching for him? The reason why the oxherd is not on intimate terms with him is because the oxherd himself has violated his own inmost nature. The beast is lost, for the oxherd has himself been led out of the way through his deluding senses. His home is receding farther away from him, and byways and crossways are ever confused. Desire for gain and fear of loss burn like fire; ideas of right and wrong shoot up like a phalanx.

Alone in the wilderness, lost in the jungle, the boy is searching, searching!
The swelling waters, the far-away mountains, and the unending path;
Exhausted and in despair, he knows not where to go,
He only hears the evening cicadas singing in the maple-woods.

II

Seeing the Traces. By the aid of the sutras and by inquiring into the doctrines, he has come to understand something, he has found the traces. He now knows that vessels, however varied, are all of gold, and that the objective world is a reflection of the Self. Yet, he is unable to distinguish what is good from what is not, his mind is still confused as to truth and falsehood. As he has not yet entered the gate, he is provisionally said to have noticed the traces.

By the stream and under the trees, scattered are the traces of the lost;
The sweet-scented grasses are growing thick–did he find the way?
However remote over the hills and far away the beast may wander,
His nose reaches the heavens and none can conceal it.

III

Seeing the Ox. The boy finds the way by the sound he hears; he sees thereby into the origin of things, and all his senses are in harmonious order. In all his activities, it is manifestly present. It is like the salt in water and the glue in colour. [It is there though not distinguishable as an individual entity.] When the eye is properly directed, he will find that it is no other than himself,

On a yonder branch perches a nightingale cheerfully singing;
The sun is warm, and a soothing breeze blows, on the bank the willows are green;
The ox is there all by himself, nowhere is he to hide himself;
The splendid head decorated with stately horns what painter can reproduce him?

IV

Catching the Ox. Long lost in the wilderness, the boy has at last found the ox and his hands are on him. But, owing to the overwhelming pressure of the outside world, the ox is hard to keep under control. He constantly longs for the old sweet-scented field. The wild nature is still unruly, and altogether refuses to be broken. If the oxherd wishes to see the ox completely in harmony with himself, he has surely to use the whip freely.

With the energy of his whole being, the boy has at last taken hold of the ox:
But how wild his will, how ungovernable his power!
At times he struts up a plateau,
When lo! he is lost again in a misty unpenetrable mountain-pass.

V

Herding the Ox. When a thought moves, another follows, and then another-an endless train of thoughts is thus awakened. Through enlightenment all this turns into truth; but falsehood asserts itself when confusion prevails. Things oppress us not because of an objective world, but because of a self-deceiving mind. Do not let the nose-string loose, hold it tight, and allow no vacillation.

The boy is not to separate himself with his whip and tether,
Lest the animal should wander away into a world of defilements;
When the ox is properly tended to, he will grow pure and docile;
Without a chain, nothing binding, he will by himself follow the oxherd.

VI

Coming Home on the Ox’s Back. The struggle is over; the man is no more concerned with gain and loss. He hums a rustic tune of the woodman, he sings simple songs of the village-boy. Saddling himself on the ox’s back, his eyes are fixed on things not of the earth, earthy. Even if he is called, he will not turn his head; however enticed he will no more be kept back.

Riding on the animal, he leisurely wends his way home:
Enveloped in the evening mist, how tunefully the flute vanishes away!
Singing a ditty, beating time, his heart is filled with a joy indescribable!
That he is now one of those who know, need it be told?

VII

The Ox Forgotten, Leaving the Man Alone. The dharmas are one and the ox is symbolic. When you know that what you need is not the snare or set-net but the hare or fish, it is like gold separated from the dross, it is like the moon rising out of the clouds. The one ray of light serene and penetrating shines even before days of creation.

Riding on the animal, he is at last back in his home,
Where lo! the ox is no more; the man alone sits serenely.
Though the red sun is high up in the sky, he is still quietly dreaming,
Under a straw-thatched roof are his whip and rope idly lying.

VIII

The Ox and the Man Both Gone out of Sight.[1] All confusion is set aside, and serenity alone prevails; even the idea of holiness does not obtain. He does not linger about where the Buddha is, and as to where there is no Buddha he speedily passes by. When there exists no form of dualism, even a thousand-eyed one fails to detect a loop-hole. A holiness before which birds offer flowers is but a farce.

All is empty-the whip, the rope, the man, and the ox:
Who can ever survey the vastness of heaven?
Over the furnace burning ablaze, not a flake of snow can fall:
When this state of things obtains, manifest is the spirit of the ancient master.

IX

Returning to the Origin, Back to the Source. From the very beginning, pure and immaculate, the man has never been affected by defilement. He watches the growth of things, while himself abiding in the immovable serenity of nonassertion. He does not identify himself with the maya-like transformations [that are going on about him], nor has he any use of himself [which is artificiality]. The waters are blue, the mountains are green; sitting alone, he observes things undergoing changes.

To return to the Origin, to be back at the Source–already a false step this!
Far better it is to stay at home, blind and deaf, and without much ado;
Sitting in the hut, he takes no cognisance of things outside,
Behold the streams flowing-whither nobody knows; and the flowers vividly red-for whom are they?

X

Entering the City with Bliss-bestowing Hands. His thatched cottage gate is closed, and even the wisest know him not. No glimpses of his inner life are to be caught; for he goes on his own way without following the steps of the ancient sages. Carrying a gourd[1] he goes out into the market, leaning against a staff[2] he comes home. He is found in company with wine-bibbers and butchers, he and they are all converted into Buddhas.

Bare-chested and bare-footed, he comes out into the market-place;
Daubed with mud and ashes, how broadly he smiles!
There is no need for the miraculous power of the gods,
For he touches, and lo! the dead trees are in full bloom.

[1. Symbol of emptiness (sunyata).
2. No extra property he has, for he knows that the desire to possess is the curse of human life.]

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