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Catching the Ox

By Tuere Sala

MON MAY 16, 2022

It seems important to take a moment to remember that these pictures are individual stories in time. They represent a stage of practice that is wholly contained within itself. Each picture points to both an inspiration in relation to the stage and a challenge. Practicing within the context of each picture means that we understand the gift that comes with each stage of practice and are prepared for the tensions that are also going to arise. This month is no different.

This month our yogi finally catches the ox. Remember the ox represents our true nature, the genuine essence of who we are and the inherent capacity of our human minds to awaken. When the yogi catches the ox, it's like seeing the truth of what's possible and fully feeling it in the body. We've all had these kinds of moments. For instance, when we seemed completely still and present during meditation, when not overreacting to a situation seemed natural, when walking down the street and noticing that everything seemed bright and alive and/or having a moment of penetrating clarity about the truth of your habit patterns without the accompanying shame. These moments of embodied presence are so impactful that we mistakenly believe we own the awakening process, or we think we know what it is. But there's a catch; one need only look at the picture and verse to see it...

The tension that arises in this stage of practice is that our ordinary mind conceptualizes all of our experiences. What we begin to catch are those conceptualizations. Our struggle becomes a struggle or tension between the truth of awakening and our concept or view about what is awakening. We constantly try to fit the expansiveness of the wisdom and freedom of Dhamma (here I'm referring the Dhamma of our true self) into a box limited by our ordinary minds. Ordinary human minds cannot recognize the expansiveness of an awakened mind. It cannot see its own potentiality. The struggle is that we are habitually tied to ordinary mind. We are tied to the underlying tendencies of greed, hatred (aversion) and delusion (confusion). In this stage of practice, we are trying to use our ordinary minds to force a conceptualization of awakening that won't require us to change the way we live.

We need this stage to awaken. We need to see for ourselves the limiting nature of ordinary concepts and to come to understand that awakening is far freer than anything we can currently conceptualize. This is because awakening is an embodied experience rather than a mental experience.

With a deep bow...