10 Bulls - the ultimate political commentary?
No, I haven't gone Buddhist on y'all... but you can't beat this 12th-century illustrated Zen (Chan) Buddhist poem, as a tongue-in-cheek response to all the political bovinity making the rounds these days....
10 Bulls, From the Zen Flesh, Zen Bones anthology, with modern woodcuts by Tomikichiro Tokuriki:
1. The Search for the Bull
2. Discovering the Footprints
3. Perceiving the Bull
4. Catching the Bull
5. Taming the Bull
6. Riding the Bull Home
7. The Bull Transcended
8. Both Bull and Self Transcended
9. Reaching the Source
10. In the World
"In the pastures of this world, I endlessly push aside the tall grasses in search of the bull.
Following unnamed rivers, lost upon the interpenetrating paths of distant mountains,
My strength failing and my vitality exhausted, I cannot find the bull.
I only hear the locusts chirring through the forest at night.
Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints!
Even under the fragrant grass I see his prints.
Deep in remote mountains they are found.
These traces no more can be hidden than one’s nose, looking heavenward.
I hear the song of the nightingale.
The sun is warm, the wind is mild, willows are green along the shore,
Here no bull can hide!
What artist can draw that massive head, those majestic horns?
I seize him with a terrific struggle.
His great will and power are inexhaustible.
He charges to the high platueau far above the cloud-mists,
Or in an impenetrable ravine he stands.
The whip and rope are necessary,
Else he might stray off down some dusty road.
Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle.
Then, unfettered, he obeys his master.
Mounting the bull, slowly I return homeward.
The voice of my flute intones through the evening.
Measuring with hand-beats the pulsating harmony, I direct the endless rhythm.
Whoever hears this melody will join me.
Astride the bull, I reach home.
I am serene. The bull too can rest.
The dawn has come. In blissful repose,
Within my thatched dwelling I have abandoned the whip and rope.
Whip, rope, person and bull – all merge in No-thing,
This heaven is so vast no message can stain it.
How may a snowflake exists in a raging fire?
Here are the footprints of the patriarchs.
Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source.
Better to have been blind and deaf from the beginning!
Dwelling in one’s true abode, unconcerned with that without -
The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red.
Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with the people of the world.
My clothes are ragged and dust-laden and I am ever blissful.
I use no magic to extend my life;
Now, before me, the trees become alive."