Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Tenth and Last Picture

Now, thanks to the artist Tomikichiro, we see what became of the boy who was once lost in the forest.  Yes, that's him, the old man, a cane in his hand instead of a whip.  He's too old to chase Ideas anymore, but he is drawn to those that beckon others.  And so, as Pu-ming tells us, he leaves his hut each morning and walks to the city--barefoot, bare-chested, covered with mud and ashes, smiling broadly.  He goes his own way, neither following the ancient sages, nor known by the wise men of his day.  At night he returns home, leaning heavily on his staff.

If you asked the old man, he would say that he is empty.  But if you asked others, they would say that he is full.  Just look at that belly!  And look at that bag, with all the riches it contains!  The poet says the old man has the "bliss-bestowing" hands of the Buddha.  "He touches, and lo! the dead trees are in full bloom."

There to receive his riches is a little girl.  She could be anyone, young or old, male or female, you or I.  She's already good at catching fish, but now she dreams of something bigger.  She listens, wide-eyed, to the old man's story of an ox that wanders in the forest, an ox with the name "The Idea Waiting To Be Born."

          And in the story's words
          the girl hears an Idea
          calling from afar.
          She sees its hoofprints in the mud,
          the place where grass grows thick and sweet,
          and then
          the massive, stately body of the ox.
          She slips a tether in the ox's nose,
          feels a storm erupt,
          and tells herself, "I must hang on."
          Soon she's on the ox's back
          looking for a reed to play,
          looking for a single thought,
          knowing that she's going home.
          Then she's in her doorway,
          and hearing in a dream the "I am here."
          And then she sees and hears and feels no more.

          But in her heart a fire burns.
          Her mind is set ablaze.


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Russ said...

What a wonderful story—I’ve never seen the oxherding pictures as a group before---thanks---I appreciate your insights.

Sharon said...

What a fascinating series this is. I haven't digested them all yet, after a decision to simply view the images first, and look forward to reading your stories about each one slowly enough to savor each one.

Dick said...

So good! It is such an interesting parallel to “The Story of Everything.” Kind of like a shorthand version.

At the time your latest message came in I was reading the latest newsletter from A Course In Miracles. In my mind the two tie together. See “The Lighthouse” at: http://facim.org/acim/newsletters/102103.pdf. The bit I read about mythical creatures called to mind the feelings I had when I read of the Ox in your in the early parts of your story. Not sure how far to keep the parallel but it hit me that way.

Gary said...

John! You might well have come across this story/synthesis. "The Greatest Story Ever Told." Enjoy!


Violet said...

I SAW things differently from what others reported seeing. I INTERPRETED the parable differently than others. The written word is like that, isn't it? Everyone's experience is unique, whether it be The Idea Waiting to Be Born or The Story of Everything ... both parables have similarities and differences. Are there right answers, wrong answers, true, false, all of the above, none of the above, or the old, tried and true "it depends."

For me, everything comes back to Morris Massey's "What You Are is Where You Were When." Your life experiences (when you were born, events large and small, your gender, ethnicity, beliefs, values, etc., etc.) shape who you are and how you interpret and come to understand the story of everything.