Maps and guideposts are helpful when we undertake a journey. The ten Ox-Herding Pictures, the accompanying ancient poems, and a modern commentary by John Daido Loori, sketch the spiritual path encountered in Zen training, a path of exhaustive study of the self and the realization of the ultimate nature of reality. The Ox-Herding Pictures can be our companion on the Way of self-discovery, our compass and perspective when we need one. They are a bottomless source of mysterious wisdom to which we can return again and again for inspiration, and they translate easily into the gritty reality of spiritual practice that emerges from and grounds us in the inescapable relevance of our daily lives.
The exquisite versions of the pictures found in the book are traditional Chinese nanga brush paintings by Gyokusei Jikihara Sensei, a modern Japanese master of calligraphy and a teacher in the Obaku School of Zen. The traditional verses accompanying them have been translated by John Daido Loori and Kazuaki Tanahashi, translator and editor of Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen.