藤原志保 Line ― 十牛へのプロローグ― 2015.10.16-26 Gallery 301
Shiho Fujiwara: Solo Exhibition On Line:Prologue to the Ten Bulls
Line −十牛へのプロローグ− に寄せて
On Line: Prologue to the Ten Bulls
(Art Critic / Director, Otani Memorial Art Museum, Nishinomiya City)
The term "ten bulls" in the exhibition title refers to a set of ten pictures illustrating a process that begins with someone taming a bull and continues until he reaches a state in which he is free of it. Here, the familiar animal is used as a metaphor for the aesthetic practice required to attain Buddha nature. Known as The Ten Ox-herding Pictures, a version by the Chinese Zen master Kuo'an Shiyuan (郭庵師遠) consisting of pictures and verses, and an introduction by the Buddhist disciple Jion Osho (慈恩和尚) was published at the end of the Northern Song Dynasty (12th century). After the book was first transmitted to Japan in the Muromachi Period (1338-1573), the pictures spread throughout the country, and a version attributed to Shubun became particularly well known.
When Shiho Fujiwara held a solo exhibition in Kobe in 1981, Taitsu Kono Roshi (河野太通老師), then head priest of Shofuku-ji Temple, paid a visit to the show and acquired her work Dark Clouds. This prompted Fujiwara to ask the Roshi about The Ten Ox-herding Pictures which are housed in the temple. This conversation stayed with her for many years.
Each of the ten pictures has a title. The first seven are "In Search of the Bull," "Discovery of the Footprints," "Perceiving the Bull," "Catching the Bull," "Taming the Bull," "Riding the Bull Home," and "The Bull Transcended." The last three are "Both Bull and Self Transcended," "Reaching the Source," and "Return to Society." Fujiwara had some questions about these last three, so she was planning to confer directly with Taitsu Kono Roshi. After hearing this, I asked to accompany her on this trip to gain some insight into Buddhism. As the Roshi is currently head of Ryumon-ji Temple in Aboshi (Himeji city), we went to see him there one day.
Ryumon-ji is a huge temple. It served as the main dojo of the distinguished priest Bankei Kokushi (盤珪国師), who was born in the early Edo Period in Harima. It is believed to have been built in 1611 and has retained its original form. The temple compound includes many Himeji Designated Cultural Properties, including the main hall. Bankei was a man who devoted his life to expounding on fusho Zen ("unborn Zen" - the Buddha mind without beginning, end or any limitation) using plain language to convey the Zen mind to common people.
Taitsu Kono Roshi sat in a chair and we sat on the floor with our legs folded beneath us as Fujiwara conducted her rapid-fire interview. Using simple terms and metaphors, he carefully explained the importance of the last three pictures in Zen teaching. He said that the Zen concept of satori is a state of awareness, and a way of discovering your original face and Buddha nature. But that even if one were to break through and achieve satori, this was essentially without merit (to explain this, he used a parable about a dialogue between Emperor Wu and Daruma). We should not be swayed by this pursuit. Instead, we should attempt to reach a state in which "a flower is red, a pine is greenery." It is also vital that we return to town, and work for society. This is the message that is expressed in The Ten Ox-herding Pictures, in particular the last three pictures. His admonition regarding the misuse of the precept, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. If you meet your forefather on the road, kill him," was also very impressive.
Famous Yamada Mumon Roshi (山田無文老師) first advocated the use of The Ten Ox-herding Pictures to monks in training at Shofuku-ji after he became a Zen master at the temple at the age of 53. Taitsu Kono Roshi was among the young men who were there at the time. Yamada's proposals have also been transcribed and turned into a book ""(published by the Institute for Zen Studies at Hanazono University). I recommend this excellent volume, which is like having the honor of actually meeting Yamada Mumon Roshi.
In the end, how did Fujiwara's "ten bulls" turn out? The eighth picture, "Both Bull and Self Transcended," is generally depicted with a circle. In Fujiwara's version, it is the only monotone picture in the set. The final picture, "Return to Society," usually shows Hotei (the god of happiness) holding a staff. Each of the pictures conveys a sense of the artist's current state and progress. With this in mind, just look!
English translation by Christopher Stephens