This week we will explore the 6th and 7th oxherding stories. In the 6th story the oxherder is riding home on the back of the ox. He/She is carefree and happy. The struggle over gain and loss is over. Nothing can deter the oxherder from his/her path. In the 7th story the oxherder arrives home. He/she is serene and the ox has vanished. The oxherder is alone and yet, in harmony. The ox and the oxherder are one.
This week we will be talking about duality. In one of the commentaries I read the oxherder was referred to as ego and the ox was referred to as our Buddha Nature. Thus, these two stories point towards the unification of ego and inherent Buddha Nature. Riding home, we are in harmony with Buddha Nature. We can relax and ride the wave of the Dharma. We trust that in the Dharma we will know the proper response (we know our way home). We are not worried about what lies ahead. This moment exists in every practitioner’s life. A moment when we let our practice guide us rather than us manipulating the practice. Instead of trying to figure out life we let the answer(s) just come to us naturally.
We live in a dualistic world and yet in the Dharma there is no duality. As such we eventually arrive at an understanding that there is no distinction between the ox and oxherder. Once home in this awareness, we see the true nature of all things and we finally let ourselves be still with our surroundings. When we do so it is our ego that vanishes and our true Buddha Nature emerges. But in the story, it is the ox (Buddha Nature) that vanishes and the oxherder (ego) sits alone in happiness. I will share my thoughts about why on Thursday.