Osho on Zen Bulls Paintings

Osho : In Japan, they had a beautiful collection of paintings called “Ten Zen Bulls.” It is a series of paintings depicting the whole story of the search.

In the first, a man is looking here and there… his bull is lost. You see forest all around, ancient trees, and the puzzled man standing there looking, and he cannot see the bull.

In the second painting, he looks a little happier because he has seen the bull’s footprints. It is the same painting, the same forest. Just one thing he has discovered in this painting and that is, he has seen the bull’s footprints, so he knows where he has gone.

In the third painting he moves and sees the backside of the bull — because it is standing by the side of a tree, and the man is behind him — so he looks… and just the backside is shown in the painting.

In the fourth he has reached the bull; he sees the whole bull.
In the fifth he has caught hold of the bull by the horns.
In the sixth he is riding on the bull. It is difficult, the bull is trying to throw him off.
By the eighth he is returning home, the bull is conquered.
In the ninth the bull is back in the stall and the man is playing on a flute.

In the tenth, there is no question of the bull at all. The man is seen in the marketplace with a bottle of wine, drunk. Buddhists were very much embarrassed about the tenth painting. It does not seem to be Buddhist at all — and there is no connection, because nine seems to be perfect; there is no need for the tenth. So in the Middle Ages they dropped the tenth painting, and they started talking of the nine paintings. Only recently has the tenth painting been discovered again in the ancient scriptures with its description — because each painting has a description of what is happening.

The bull is lost, your soul is lost — the bull represents your soul, your energy, your spirit. When the bull is found, you have become a realized soul. You are singing a song on the flute — that is the stage of enlightenment. What about the tenth? That is the stage when you go beyond enlightenment; you become ordinary again. Now there is no split between this world and that, now there is no split between good and bad. Now all opposites have joined together into one single harmony; that’s what is represented by the bottle of wine, a bottle of wine in the hands of a buddha.

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