Oxherding Pictures


  • The search for the bull

This stage represents man when he still doesn’t know his true nature, but one way or another, has already started his search. He wishes to find it, though he doesn’t even know what it is, nor is he sure of recognizing it when he finds it. Sometimes he experiments with the search as an escape from his present circumstances that in general are not pleasant. Life as it is, is a heavy load and – he thinks – surely there must be a better way of living. Most of those that have started the “search” are at this stage.

  • Finding The Path

  At this stage, the seeker finds indications, clues in one or more spiritual traditions, he is attracted by books of wisdom, he is loaded with questions on the subject, he meets masters and notices that there re others that have followed the same path, he is not the first person to have noticed that there is something subtle to attain. This stage, generally, starts with yoga practice, meditation or other disciplines. Through these he experiences sensations related to the spirit. In the first image the farmer searches all over, without a specific order, whereas in the second image his search is more focussed and better oriented.

  • The First Glimpse

  This would be considered the first experience; the student gets to see his true self. It is equivalent to the first contact with the master that initiates him. The seeker’s objective will be to elevate his consciousness instead of repressing or eliminating the animal within. In short, the first sight is any kind of vision or experience that stimulates the individual to follow the path towards that which is transcendental.

  • Capturing The Bull

  The farmer has caught the animal but it is still stubborn and does not follow him. He has finally caught it but it is obstinate and uncontrolled. Its energy and decision are relentless, at times it runs toward the hills, at other times it stays unmovable in deep impenetrable valleys. It symbolizes our struggle with our basic nature, something that can last a whole lifetime. At this stage a person must analyse if he is advancing and attaining a clearer understanding or he is simply stuck and protecting himself behind certain doctrines or ideas related to spiritual practice.

  • Taming The Bull

    This represents the control of our physical or animal nature, this is attained by knowing it, in other words, listening and dialoguing with it. The farmer is now directing the bull with the reins and controls it to the extent that the bull lets himself be guided. Little by little the man becomes the master. What he does at this stage is unite his consciousness with the animal nature (basic nature). For example, a professional animal trainer knows that by using force you do not tame the animal, only harmonizing his consciousness with the animal conscience can he attain that. This is why many of the effective spiritual formulas do not try to conquer, dominate, destroy or eliminate the ego, rather they teach you to live in harmony with it. Actually, it is the ego or the mind itself, that promotes the search of one’s Self and it must go through all the stages. Thus to talk about eliminating it is absurd.

  • Riding The Bull Home

   In Indian Mythology, Gods and Goddesses are represented riding on animals as their vehicle. The animal symbolizes the inferior nature that the man dominates and with which he has a good relationship. One must feed and take care of the biological part of the being, without abusing nor relaxing too much. This way the physical vital force becomes an ally. In the drawing we can see how the man is riding the bull without reins, the bull knows where to go and that’s where it goes without being directed. He is playing the flute placidly on the back of the bull. The struggle is over; the man has attained a state of enlightenment.

  • The Transcended Bull

The farmer is alone and happy, sitting by his house, the bull is no longer visible. The man has become one with the Being. Instead of the former efforts, a state of peace and happiness reigns.

Transcendence is a recurring or temporal experience of unity, beyond dualities. It is an exceptional state of conscience. When we live in a dual world, we always experience the opposites: inside – out, happiness – sadness, success – failure, etc. Duality starts with birth and ends with death. Actually, we live not only in duality, but rather multiplicity. Whereas transcendence implies a unitive experience, not duality, not multiplicity, that shows us our true nature.

  • The Bull And Self Transcended

  All has fused itself into nothingness. We can only observe a circle, with nothing inside, which means all opposites have disappeared. At this stage the man can’t even say “I’m illuminated” or “I’m not illuminated”, they don’t exist for him, Unity is all that exists. This nothingness is not dry, rigid and empty, rather pulsates with the throb of life essence – The ‘Atma’ sphere.

  • Back To The Origin

In this image we can see nature in all its splendour, flowers, birds, the river, mountains. It represents what happens after the transcendental experience. Outside the illuminated man, nothing has changed, only man himself has been transformed. He re-enters life with different eyes, a new centre with another focus guides him. Each time he so wishes he can go within himself and see life through it. All is in peace.

  • In The World

  Buddha, after attaining the state of illumination, almost didn’t come out again and return to the world. But his compassion for all beings finally took hold and the rest of his life he dedicated to intense work that transformed culture and society in his time. In this drawing the illuminated man now directs himself to other beings to help them. He puts all his wisdom at their service.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s