騎牛帰家 (Riding the Ox Home)

Designer: Hokusai | Carver: David Bull | Printer: Ayumi Ohashi

Size: 15cm by 11cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [HC] ? | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 40.00£ 32.25€ 36.75

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Description: The image you see here is used in the introduction to a set of illustrations of the Suikoden produced by Katsushika Hokusai. It is a reference to a set of ten ‘ox-herding’ images which originated in ancient China and which are generally used as an allegorical illustration of stages in man’s quest for enlightenment.

The boy playing flute while riding the ox homewards is the sixth in the set. I myself have never had any concern about my level of ‘enlightenment’, but as I read about this set of illustrations, felt that if I had to consider which of the ten stages I would like to be in, it would be this sixth one!

I suppose this is an extreme simplification of a process which some people contemplate for almost their entire lives, but I see the earlier stages as being a struggle to ‘find one’s self’, and the later stages as an attempt to then ‘forget one’s self’. But this particular stage seems to me to be a quite worthy goal in itself - to be completely comfortable and at ease with yourself, to be no longer concerned with ‘winning’ and ‘losing’, and to be able to let things take their course without hindrance.

I don’t mean to imply that this describes my situation; and actually, now that I think about it more deeply, I think that I would rather stay just a little bit ‘below’ that state; there are quite a number of ‘battles’ remaining that I still wish to fight!

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