The Ten Pictures Of The Cowherd

The pictures were drawn by Kwoh Ngan (Kaku-an), a Chinese

Zenist. For the details, see Zen-gaku-ho-ten.

Besides these Five Ranks of Merit, Zenists make use of the Ten

Pictures of the Cowherd, in order to show the different stages of

mental training through which the student of Zen has to go. Some

poems were written by Chinese and Japanese teachers on each of these

pictures by way of explana
ion, but they are too ambiguous to be

translated into English, and we rest content with the translation of

a single Japanese poem on each of the ten pictures, which are as


The first picture, called 'the Searching of the Cow,' represents the

cowherd wandering in the wilderness with a vague hope of finding his

lost cow that is running wild out of his sight. The reader will

notice that the cow is likened to the mind of the student and the

cowherd to the student himself.

"I do not see my cow,

But trees and grass,

And hear the empty cries

Of cicadas."

The second picture, called 'the Finding of the Cow's Tracks,'

represents the cowherd tracing the cow with the sure hope of

restoring her, having found her tracks on the ground.

"The grove is deep, and so

Is my desire.

How glad I am, O lo!

I see her tracks."

The third picture, called 'the Finding out of the Cow,' represents

the cowherd slowly approaching the cow from a distance.

"Her loud and wild mooing

Has led me here;

I see her form afar,

Like a dark shadow."

The fourth 'picture, called 'the Catching of the Cow,' represents the

cowherd catching hold of the cow, who struggles to break loose from


"Alas! it's hard to keep

The cow I caught.

She tries to run and leap

And snap the cord."

The fifth picture, called 'the Taming of the Cow,' represents the

cowherd pacifying the cow, giving her grass and water.

"I'm glad the cow so wild

Is tamed and mild.

She follows me, as if

She were my shadow."

The sixth picture, called 'the Going Home Riding on the Cow,'

represents the cowherd playing on a flute, riding on the cow.

"Slowly the clouds return

To their own hill,

Floating along the skies

So calm and still.

The seventh picture, called 'the Forgetting of the Cow and the

Remembering of the Man,' represents the cowherd looking at the

beautiful scenery surrounding his cottage.

"The cow goes out by day

And comes by night.

I care for her in no way,

But all is right."

The eighth picture, called 'the Forgetting of the Cow and of the

Man,' represents a large empty circle.

"There's no cowherd nor cow

Within the pen;

No moon of truth nor clouds

Of doubt in men."

The ninth picture, called 'the Returning to the Root and Source,'

represents a beautiful landscape full of lovely trees in full blossom.

"There is no dyer of hills,

Yet they are green;

So flowers smile, and titter rills

At their own wills."

The tenth picture, called 'the Going into the City with Open Hands,'

represents a smiling monk, gourd in hand, talking with a man who

looks like a pedlar.

"The cares for body make

That body pine;

Let go of cares and thoughts,

O child of mine!"

These Ten Pictures of the Cowherd correspond in meaning to the Five

Ranks of Merit above stated, even if there is a slight difference, as

is shown in the following table:


1. The Rank of Turning---1. The Searching of the Cow.

2. The Finding of the Cow's Tracks.

2. The Rank of Service---3. The Finding of the Cow.

4. The Catching of the Cow.

3. The Rank of Merit---5. The Taming of the Cow.

6. The Going Home, Riding on the Cow.

4. The Rank of Co-operative Merit---9. The Returning to the Root and


10. The Going into the City with

Open Hands.

5. The Rank of Merit-over-Merit---7. The Forgetting of the Cow and

the Remembering of the Man.

8. The Forgetting of the Cow and of

the Man.