Riding the Ox Home

The trick is never to mount the ox in the first place, per the Ch’an master Foyan; he said there were only two diseases at his monastery, searching for an ox while riding an ox and being mounted on an ox unable to dismount. He asked, isn’t it better never to mount in the first place?

I would say the meaning is that where we are is sufficient to act, if we can relax and accept the way our feelings inform consciousness. Our feelings do affect our sense of place, and our acceptance of what we feel allows the ability to feel to be spontaneous, and our consciousness to take place freely. Sometimes I look to falling asleep sitting up, where a little jerk wakes me up as I start to fall over, but I can realize the action without the jerk if I attend my sense of place. It’s the same state of mind where I observe the dreams that happen sitting up, although those are very brief and the state of mind that catches sight of them need not be.

Why would I do that: because the sense of place from one moment to the next acts, and that is ox and rider without mounting. I can’t be anywhere other than where I am, but to experience action out of being where I am requires a state between waking and sleeping. As I said, it’s as simple as the sense of location as I fall asleep, which shifts from place to place; it’s also as complicated as getting up and walking around with no idea of what I’m doing or why (and finding out later!).

So no special effort, and yet I practice sitting doing nothing in the mornings, as I’m waking up. I practice at night until I’m falling asleep, too, although that’s usually a shorter sitting. That’s my approach to riding the ox home.

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