Ox-Herding Pictures and the Enlightenment Process It Tells


Writen by Xuezhi Hu, draft version, to be edited soon

1. The Preface
2. Ode to Ox-Herding Pictures: Part One
3. Ord to Ox-Herding Pictures: Part Two

The Preface
The Ox-herding Chart of Chan Buddhism was once translated into English and enjoyed lot of attention and study from Western readers. The poem in company was written in traditional Chinese and unfortunately, many readers in mailand China may face some difficulty in understanding the meaning due to their less study on traditional Chinese literature. Nonetheless, such pictures seem to gain much more popularity in American and Japan than mainland China since most mainland Chinese people seldom have the chance to hear of it being used or mentioned by mainland Buddhists from Chan Buddhism.


Several years ago I read martial arts novel (titled like “smash emptiness into pieces”) written by Mr. Huang Yi, and the author uses lot of the poem from the Ox-herding Chart to describe how the protagonist of the novel, in his study to achieve immortality, gains progress one step after another in the field. But in terms of the achievement the protagonist gained there are merely words on the nature of mind and immediate enlightenment being unstintingly leashed out, not in the least there are words in relation to regulation of breathing and Chi deployment. In inner alchemy practice (immortality study), it should be termed as ‘talks concerning only mercury yet without lead." You can easily come to the conclusion that the author is only the poet or literature scholar in Wei and Jin Dynasty who had interest merely in fabricating metaphysics and mythical stories, by borrowing more elements from Chan literature.


But in detailed reading and contemplation of the chart as well as the poem, I suddenly gained an impression that this chart bears a lot of similarity with the practical process of inner alchemy practice (immortality study). Perhaps some Buddhists or scholars from Chan Buddhism may refute me, but after many days of meditation I seem to have more confidence to support my own assertion.


You know what, I suddenly understand the chart simply becomes an illustration depicting immortality-accomplishing sequence, with different symbols specific to each stage. Yes, for Chan Buddhism, there is Chan poetry, for immortality practice there is NeiDan (Taoist inner alchemy) poetry, Chan poetry is often characterized by the subtlety of a full moon locating well beyond the pointing fingers, whereas NeiDan poems much often feature highly metaphorical artistic conception which lies between that can be perceived or that totally beyond perception whatsoever.


Immortality study do not talk about immediate enlightenment, nor the assertion like “All things being produced by causes and accessory conditions have no reality”, nor the words like “become an immortality immediately”, yet such study can lead up to the success from the beginning without any necessary step left out, though its gradual and progressive manner seem to possess no much attraction to practitioners from Chan Buddhism, though it is really a super-straight ladder.

Although the Chan Buddhism often talks about immediate enlightenment, and the thorough attainment without the least hindrance, but it does not mean the free of any efforts to be done before or after the attainment, otherwise Huineng (the sixth patriach) would not have to do the milling work for nine months before his attainment, and thereafter ran to join a hunter team for practice which lasts nineteen years. Later on when he started to offer teaching course, you know what, what he taught at beginning is the chanting "Prajna Paramita (reaching the other shore)". Chan Buddhism, to tell the truth, is to attain the state of mutual affinity between teachers and disciples, while for immortality study it lies upon the infusion by Yang Qi from varying levels. Both, in essence, lie well beyond the spoken and written language in terms of the authentic knacks they concern.


The Chan study and its subtlety lie upon Chan’s allegoric meaning or understanding gained in an instant which features something rational, yet leaving no any outlets for admitting in speculation in any form. Only mutual affinity can bring about the allegoric meaning being perceived instantly which mostly arises from the attained views “all things being produced by causes and accessory conditions have no reality”, and “mind remains unimpeded whatever.”


Taoist immortality study, however, has its subtlety lying upon the Mysterious Pass which serves as the only communication channel connecting both the Pre-heaven and Post-heaven domains. Mysterious Pass lies neither within corporeal body nor outside the physical body, neither within interior nor exterior. It presents itself only when the interior resonates with the exterior, and the natural corresponds to the artificial on the condition that both Shen and Chi become sufficient. We can apply the example of love story to demonstrate the state: the love feeling between a girl and a boy arises mostly in a spontaneous way, and most people know love cannot be forced. Similarly, both emptiness and the naturalness, though both in varying evidence, begin to meet in harmony and communicate with each other in the instance.


Perhaps, you may ask, immortality study and Chan Buddhism can meet at one place and thoroughfare with each other with no obstacles whatever? Lets read the following passage which is the excerpt from Chuang Tzu, and titled “the fasting of mind”: (translated by Victor H. Mair)

“I have nothing further to propose,” said Yen Hui. “I venture to ask you for a method.”

“Fasting,” said Confucius. “I shall explain it for you. If you do things with your mind, do you think it will be easy? Bright heaven will not approve one who thinks it will be easy.”

“My family is poor,” said Yen Hui, “and it’s been several months since I’ve drunk wine or tasted meat. May this be considered fasting?”

“This is fasting suitable for sacrifices, but it is not fasting of the mind.”

“I venture to ask what ‘fasting of the mind’ is,” said Hui.

"Concentrate your mind-will. Hear not with your ears, but with your mind; not with your mind, but with your Chi. Let your hearing stop with the ears, and let your mind stop with natural concordance. Chi, however, is vacuous and empty, accommodating all. There is none but Tao who dwells in the empty vacuity. And becoming empty and vacuous is the fasting of the mind."

“Before I am able to exercise fasting of the mind,” said Yen Hui, “I truly have an identity. But after I am able to exercise it, I will no longer have an identity. Can this be called emptiness?”

"Exactly so!" replied the master. "Let me tell you. Enter and roam about this realm, but without any awareness of what the realm is. In the event of arrival in it sing in concert with it; in case of no arrival in it stop at the cessation. Let the door open and close, by its own course. House all as an undivided whole and lodge in that which takes the course all in its natural way. Then you are close to it. To leave no footprints is easy; to walk on no ground is difficult.

“If you are impelled by human feelings, it is easy to be false; if you are impelled by nature, it is hard to be false. I’ve only heard of creatures that fly with wings, never of creatures that fly with nonwings. I’ve only heard of people knowing things through awareness, never of people knowing things through unawareness. Observe the void – the empty room emits a pure light. Good fortune lies in stopping when it is time to stop. If you do not stop, this is called ‘galloping while sitting.’ Let your senses communicate within and rid yourself of the machinations of the mind. Then even ghosts and spirits will take shelter with you, not to mention men. This is how the myriad things are transformed. It is that to which Yao and Shun bound themselves, and that which Fuhsi and Chich’u exercised all their lives. All the more is it suited for the masses.”

The famous inner alchemist Chen Yingning once wrote 24 pieces of NeiDan poetry, here we choose several for appreciation:

The first is as follows:

Ultimate reality is shining forth over all grains of sand along Ganges River,
The worldly and the sagely, together with the enlightened all share one common source originally.
All present themselves in full aspects whenever there is none idea arising,
Cloud, however, already has been overshadowing once in motion even one least sense.

Rid of all affliction for what? The addition of illness!
Come close to the true thusness for what? A diverging path there emerges!
Meekly follow the predestined relationship as it arises to make the mind remain unimpeded, for what?
Nirvā?a as well as birth and death are but that equal to hollow flowers in air.

The last poem runs as below:

Knock out the emptiness to rid of accumulation of kalpa which lasts billion years,
Well bye the canoe who carried us ashore in opposite!
To finish perusing almost all volumes of immortality books and works, yet finally understand the last words have not heard of from all authors’ mouth.

Actually, what are the last words? Could not be spoken out or the author would not like to say? The answer Chen Yingning gave is the author dare not to say because it may frighten all audience. What are they after all? Lets come to watch the figures and read the poem.




Writen by Xuezhi Hu, draft version, to be edited soon

Ode to Ox-herding Pictures: Part One

1. Ox not tamed in herd

ox-herding 1

"Ferociously roars the ox,
who dash around with its crooked horns,
rushing about without impediment
till mountain river turns away with road stretching far into distance.
A piece of black cloud overhanging over mouth of a valley,
Who knows, one step after another in farmer’s field, the ox is devastating the young seedling!

Here the ox is a metaphor indicating our heart-mind who has not underwent any discipline. It prefers to go mad and crazy in chasing after what is desirable and lovable, regardless even of the physical life at sometime. Therefore, all sorts of means should be applied to tame it first hand. This looks more close to the ways of Taoist alchemist, rather than practitioners from Chan Buddhism.

Therefore, Lao Tzu said in the chapter 12 as follows:

The five colours make the eyes blind;
The five notes make the ears deaf;
The five flavors deprive the mouth of taste.
Riding and hunting make the mind wild;

The Yellow Emperor went to see Master Kuang Ch'eng, to ask about the administration of the body:

Master Kuang Ch'eng sat up with a start. "Excellent, this question of yours! Come, I will tell you about the Perfect Tao. The essence of the Perfect Tao is profoundly obscure and vague; the subtlety of the Perfect Tao is profoundly elusive and stillness. See nothing, hear nothing, enfold Shen in quietude and the body will go right of its own accord. Be still, be pure, do not labor your body, do not churn up your Jing, and then you can live a long life. There is nothing to be beheld by eyes, nothing to be heard by ears, nothing to be known by heart, then your Shen shall stay in guard for the body, and the body will thereby enjoy long life. Cherish that which is within you, block off what is outside you, much knowledge will do harm.

If it is ways characterizing Chan Buddhism, it would not talk about the unruliness of the heart-mind (ox) when the heart-mind (ox) becomes the main theme in question. Otherwise, slaughter the ox with a sharp sword would not be an easy way to solve the problem (Yes, Chan Buddhism advocates no killing)? If it is way characterizing the six patriarchs of the Chan Buddhism, it would to “keep dusting it in order to prevent it from incur the least dust.” But, why there appears the word “forgetfulness” in later poems? “Forgetfulness” should be typical of Chuang Tzu’s approaches because in Chuang Tzu you can quickly find the passage like “To be forgetful in sitting meditation” which advocates to let heart-mind be in a void, then let all motion gradually come to a standstill, then to fall into forgetfulness of anything, then to forget about everything and follow whatever arises and sinks as it is in total oblivion.


2. The initial tameness

ox herding picture 2

A rope that runs through the nose of ox, I have mounted!
One time dashing off should be well rewarded with a burning pain plus whip lashing!
Even since the beginning the difficulty is the bad habituation to modulate!
Now there comes the task for shepherd boy trying his best to alter the circumstance!

For initial meditation people may find it difficult to be quiet because the heart-mind is easily to subject to the temptation by outside objects. Such instance is much similar to the small children who attend the school at early age: they cannot remain silent and sit there with no motion (this is typical of Chinese education tradition for students in their kindergarten or junior schools!). For them it is really an agony since they are forced to do so.

Most people know it is difficult to tame wild cattle, much worse if with whip in hand riding on the back while you order it to head east, west. You know, in such circumstance, you might risk falling from the back or even fall down to death when the cattle runs crazy. Therefore, the best solution is “mount a rope that runs through the nose of ox, thereby you can easily achieve the effect of ordering the cattle to any direction as you like", which can rid of the risk to be thrown down from the cattle back. In fact, Such a rope denotes "Concentrate the heart-mind" from alchemist’s point of view, and for meditation novice, it indicates a suggestion please place the heart-mind stop at listening. Chuang Tzu said; "Concentrate your mind-will. Hear not with your ears, but with your mind." Yes, for most practitioners they are sure to encounter the difficulties that the heart-mind remains at large and refuses to fall into control.


Some additional methods should be applied to offer a help hand, such as counting the breathing or reversal breathing (belly sticks out when exhale while belly shrinks when inhale) or the visualization of bones of the dead. In a word, to tame the wildness of the heart-mind and that is the point. This can well explain the message “now it becomes the task for shepherd boy trying his best to alter the circumstance.”


3. Modulation

ox herding picture 3

Apply the gradual modulation to cease the boarse wildness,
while gaining the gradual submissiveness little by little.
Wade across rivers, ferry through clouds, unconsciously the cattle begins
to follow step by step.
Still handle the rope with no less strength,
the shepherd boy all day long gets accustomed to the gradual forgetfulness, and of the tiredness.

Starting with concentration, yet later on you may find the heart-mind has gradually been free of much delusional thinking, and it might in an instant follow the some spontaneous motion without any support--despite stray ideas may occur sometimes, but it was soon back on the track with the spontaneous motion again. Accordingly, there comes the effect "wade across rivers, ferry through clouds, unconsciously the cattle begins to follow step by step." But people have to keep paying attention to use the heart-mind to listen rather than using ears, lest it should re-take the former course again to wander around with no constrains.


At beginning such kind of work may be very tired, but after sometime practitioners can gradually get accustomed to it, and the tired feeling may disappear naturally. Here we borrow “ode to Mythical Source and Grand Tao," written by Chao Wen Yee for better understanding:

Once someday attainment achieved it is a fully free excursion,
On reflecting upon the refining and cooking process you would sigh over the hard-working you had done!
Though hard-working it is, yet actually no diligence is required,
As the only work you were required to do is to foster the primeval Shen.
It is regrettable the mind prefers to be busy,
At this critical time either to round of or to set free all is within the play of your hand!

4. Looking back

ox herding picture 4

In the course of time, as meritorious deeds committed in succession,
there comes the time that the wildness comes to an end,
as well as frantic force was gradually transformed into the meekness and gentleness.
But the mountain boy does not open up as much as to reach the stage of by just exchange one for another given,
Therefore, the rope remains tethered still within his hands.

After the practice of concentration of heart-mind, the heart-mind is no longer difficult to tame as before and its wildness begins to be worn down, and it gets to be blurred together with any motion unconsciously. However, this was not the time to enter the second phase "to listen with Chi," because concentrated heart-mind (we should call it true intention) and spontaneous motion has not been fully unified to full extent. The Taoist inner alchemy books prefer to liken concentrated heart-mind to women, the spontaneous motion to men and their combination to the intercourse which caused lots of confusion or even brought about the conceptualization of double cultivation which remains very popular in Western world. People should understand they are but the metaphors and should not be interpreted as one way for enlightenment as most false masters claim.


At this stage, though the two begin to stick to each other, there still has in place the intention sometimes be set up to keep them together. So, “the rope remains tethered still within his hands .”


5. Tamed

Ox herding picture 5

Beside the old stream, under the shade of green poplar trees,
let go from the hands or tighten up the rope
all is been carried out by its own course.
By nightfall green clouds are roaming high over meadow bank,
Shepherd boy is returning yet with no rope tightened up.

At this point there already attained the status of "true intention and spontaneous motion depend upon each other", and any intention to hold them two together is but the attachment in extra as the two have gradually united to form an oneness that cannot split with any easiness. This is the status "to listen with Chi." Even some instant of sense activity may casually enter the non-conscious domain, it would not cause any effect to the state on the account that the true intention has been in love with the spontaneous motion for no one knows how long. Therefore, people do not have to deliberately discriminate who is who.



Writen by Xuezhi Hu, draft version, to be edited soon

Ord to Ox-Herding Pictures: Part Two

6. Free of hindrance

Ox herding picture 6

All at ease fall into doze or sleep in open ground as the will be,
no spur by whip any more, as free as the air is.
Well under the green pines steadily sits the shepherd boy,
Peacefully a gentle tune is aired, narrating more than any happiness.

At this point it should be termed as entering the stage where both Shen and Chi are unified to form an oneness, which lies well beyond the phase "heart-mind and breathing depending upon each other," as the consciousness has gradually blurred, leaving only a little consciousness which could almost not be conscious of anything. It is, however, not the emptiness of nothingness as described by Buddhist, but one whiff of spontaneous circulation in operation in which the sense and pre-heaven breathing both are transformed into two different types of energy---one is Shen and one is Chi, and the former entering the latter while the latter embracing the former. So, you can see the changes that has taken place throughout the process: first is to tame the wildness of the heart-mindg, then get along with the breathing, then get close to “feel” the manifestation initiated by transformation force of great nature—the spontaneous circulation. One famous Taoism scripture called 100-Word Monument reads "sit to listen to non-chord song, run unimpeded into the core mechanism of the Creation by riding of obscurity of illusion." A gentle tune is aired peacefully narrating that more than any happiness." Up to now, can you perceive something from these words or something beyond these words?


Here we borrow the poem “Admonition on Regulating Breathing” by Zhu Shih (a great philosopher in Ming Dynasty) for reference:

A whiteness, I have the view of it;
Cozy and at ease, come and stay together with it and get along with it.
Become quieter and quieter and there seems to open up all out, as like the spring marsh where fish roaming;
Get involved in motion for long whereupon all seems to draw together, as like all insects hibernate.
In diffusion, it opens up to accommodate all, while in turn close up to hibernate,
Its wonderful really stays beyond of any words!
Who is the master of it at all?
The non-mastery dominance deserves to merit such greatness.

At this time non-mastery dominance begins to play its part, naturally there comes the situation“no spur by whip any more, as free as the air is.”


7. Follow the course as it is

ox herding picture 7

Willow bank,green ripples, all dissolves into the sunset,
Gray fog stretches out leisurely, grass-green spreads out downy.
Hunger served with food, thirst with drinks, etc. at all times keeping the manner and tendency as there occur.
Up on the stone the shepherd boy remains asleep soundly.

Here the “sleeping” locates at the core meaning of the words, which apparently falls in line with the main characteristics of immortality study. From the perception in place at beginning to the unconsciousness state later on, from the combination of both Shen and Chi to the unified oneness getting involved in spontaneous motion, the success lies upon “to follow the course as it is,” without any interference, which eventually effects the "natural evaporation, natural convergence, as well as natural stop." (if there is nothing at all, what is to be followed about?)


At this point, the practitioners have come on the stage where heart-mind stops at the natural concordance, the listening stops at the ears. Therefore, we can say all perception and consciousness gradually come to a persistent standstill or a state where persistent standstill dominates. That is sleep, you may conclude. The fact is, however, when ordinary people sleep, dream is the company; when practitioners sleep, no dream at all because all consciousness comes to a stop, to rest, or to “be deprived of all functionality” (Or in another word, the difference between awakeness and sleep disappears). So, the shepherd boy is falling asleep soundly.


Here we borrow one passage from Chuang Tzu for better understanding (translated by Victor H. Mair)

“How do I know that love of life is not a delusion? How do I know that fear of death is not like being a homeless waif who does not know the way back home? When the state of Chin first got Pretty Li, the daughter of the border warden of Ai, she wept till her robe was soaked with tears. But after she arrived at the king’s residence, shared his fine bed, and could eat the tender meats of his table, she regretted that she had ever wept. How do I know that the dead may not regret their former lust for life?

“Someone who dreams of drinking wine at a cheerful banquet may wake up crying the next morning. Someone who dreams of crying may go off the next morning to enjoy the sport of the hunt. When we are in the midst of a dream, we do not know it’s a dream. Sometimes we may even try to interpret our dreams while we are dreaming, but then we awake and realize it was a dream. Only after one is greatly awakened does one realize that it was all a great dream, while the fool thinks that he is awake and presumptuously aware. ‘My excellent lord!’ ‘Oh, thou humble shepherd!’ How perverse they are!

“Both Confucius and you are dreaming, and I too am dreaming when I say that you are dreaming. This sort of language may be called enigmatic, but after myriad generations there may appear a great sage who will know how to explain it and he will appear as though overnight!”

8. Reciprocal forgetfulness

ox herding picture 8

White cattle in white clouds,
Inadvertently, man remains free of any mind, so does the cattle.
Moon has its shade penetrate through white clouds, and vice versa.
White clouds, full moon in brightness, all are as they are, either east or west as they may be.

In Chan Buddhism, white clouds is a metaphor used often to illustrate the state free of hindrance which is gained by riding of the attachment (to ego, to dharmas). So, does the white cattle. People are advised to pay more attention upon how the ox changes its color from the black to white in the pictures, and how often the white clouds, full moon or free air are used in the poems accompanying the pictures.


At this point we should term it as a reciprocal forgetfulness of both Shen and Chi, and all phenomena falling within our consciousness sphere begin to decompose and the reciprocal binding between all phenomena begin to unravel and all seems to arrive at the same root with same footing, and all becomes transparent to each other, or in another word the barrier between all phenomena begins to collapse. Yes, man forgets about ox, and ox forgets about man. Man forgets about their cognizing objects and the cognizing objects forget about man---the binding between cognizing faculty and cognizing objects begins to die away. Thus comes the reciprocal forgetfulness. In the words of Buddhism, it is the gradual disappearance of attachment to ego and the attachment to dharma---the cognition that everything has inherent nature.


Chuang-Tzu said, "fish and waters of both rivers and lakes forget about each other reciprocally, both people and all means they hold on to forget about each other reciprocally." Therefore, you can see how importantly the forgetfulness is during the enlightenment process! Furthermore, unilateral forgetfulness merits no reward whatever at this point. It should be the reciprocal forgetfulness to be in place simultaneously.


Once upon this stage, where is heart-mind? Where is the means you should adhere to? Where is ego? Where are all phenomena? White clouds, a full moon in brightness, all are as they are, either east or west as they may be. Chuang-tzu said: “undo the Jing and Shen to transcend life existence.” It is a great liberation in comparison when people think about the former bondage they cocoon themselves within due to their attachment. In fact, all enlighten process is nothing but to continue undoing the bindings and bondage, clear up the sulliness, rid of the habituation, rectify that put upsided-down, to restore our true features.


Here most people prefer to use “forget” to replace “undo.” In fact, the forgetfulness already lost its meaning and its functionality, either.


9. The shining in independence

Ox herding picture 9

Nowhere is the cattle,
Thus shepherd boy has completely nothing to be engaged in.
There is nothing at all save a slice of cloud dangling lonely between cliffs of green peaks.
Clap hands and sing a song in high tone he beckons down the moon,
Well return he does yet another mountain ridge he has to climb over!

Here we borrow one passage from Chaung Tzu for reference

Nan-po Tse-kuei said to Nu-Yu, "You are of an old age, and yet your complexion is that of a virgin. How is this?"

Nu-Yu replied, "I have obtained Tao."

"Could I get Tao by studying it?" asked Nan-po Tse-kuei.

"No! How can you?" said Nu-Yu. "You are not that type of person. There was Puliang-I. He had all the talents of becoming a sage, but not the way of becoming the sage, whereas I had way of becoming a sage but without the talents of a sage. But do you think I was able to teach him to become indeed a sage? Had it not been so, in the way of accomplishing sage’s Tao to tell one who has a sage's talents would be an easy matter. I patiently keep watch to it and talk to him. In three days, he could put the world outside himself. Again I keep watch to it for seven days more, then he could put all concerns outside himself. I waited for another nine days, after which he could put all beings outside himself. After putting all beings outside himself, he was able to achieve the thorough awakening of dawn. After he could achieve the thorough awakening of dawn, then he had the clear vision of the absolute independence, and after that, he could do away with past and present. After he could do away with past and present he was able to enter domain where life and death are no more. That which let life die out does not die; that which gives life to life does not live. This is the kind of thing it is: there's nothing it does not send off, nothing it does not welcome, nothing it does not destroy, nothing it does not complete. This is to be 'attaining peace amidst confusion and strife.' After the confusion and strife, and the completion attained.

Here let us pay attention to the following sentence: “After he could achieve the thorough awakening of dawn, then he had the clear vision of the absolute independence.” Here it is the shining in independence or independent shining. In Chinese Pin Yin it is called “Shen Du.” One subtlety is there, subject to neither decrease nor increase, shining all over heaven and earth and make up one whole ball of brightness. When one full moon is hanging high up in clear shy there are unlimited moons in rivers and lakes to shine. Talk about its exterior it is infinity, talk about it interior there has nothing to contain inside. Therefore, the barrier existing between interior and exterior disappears, which indicates the absoluteness or total independence after transcending the relativity realm where all remains relative to the other (each being is but the aggregate of other and lacks its inherent nature). Yet, it is not the end because it is still a being though at a complete different realm. So, it is still a barrier or an illusion based upon the leftovers or corpuses of the deceased.


For people who have some knowledge of Buddhism theory they can understand such stage denotes several stages within process called Cultivating-Way, the fourth of five enlightenment phases (accumulation stage, beneficial practice stage, seeing-path stage, cultivating-Way stage and gaining-fruit-of-Buddhahood stage).


10. Double annihilation

Ox herding picture 10

Both human and cattle are nowhere, free of any footprints to be traced!
A bright full moon has its light shining thoroughly, penetrating all through with no exception.
If you ask the ins and outs after all,
Wild flowers, fragrant grass all nodding as the freeze comes upon.

Here we can see all traces and deceased corpses have been rid of. You may ask what the traces and deceased corpses mean. In fact here we indicate the traces or corpses of deceased sullied habituation, afflictive hindrance as well as noetic hindrances. There are so delicate and subtle that to rid of them makes up a so challenging task that many people fail to gain success or finish only part of the work, eventually.


Here let borrow some words from Chuang Tzu: “This is the kind of thing it is: there's nothing it does not send off, nothing it does not welcome, nothing it does not destroy, nothing it does not complete.” Then you can well understand the words; If you ask the ins and outs after all, wild flowers, fragrant grass all nodding as the freeze comes upon. Why? Because the mountain still is the mountain, the river still is the river. Nothing changed, you may ask? No! wild flowers, fragrant grass all shaking their heads!


From Zhang Ziyang down on, there had been the situation where fellow students met under both Chan Buddhism and immortality study. Some students in immortality study failed to gain practical progress because of their attachment to the so-called “being”, “elixir pill”, “small water wheel”, “large water wheel”, “medicinal substance”, “firing process” and so on. Therefore, they went to Chan Buddhism to seek a breakthrough, thus bringing in many ideas typical of immortality study. In Chan poems there is little to be found concerning wind, fire, water, and earth, but often filled with the description of natural scenery. Same, many people who study Buddhism and Confucianism and fail to gain progress also go to seek solution from immortality study. Hence, in immortality poetry there often appear the terms used in Buddhism and Confucianism. Thus comes the present situation where the convergence of Taoist immortality study, Buddhism and Confucianism dominates.


Fish and waters in both the rivers and lakes reciprocally forget about each other, both people and all means they hold on to reciprocally forget about each other. Lets us do “an effort” to make Buddhism and Confucianism and Taoism all reciprocally forget about each other and walk upon the grand course leading to the eternal Tao!