Tenth Oxherding Picture

Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with the people of the world.
My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am ever blissful.
I use no magic to extend my life;
Now, before me, the dead trees become alive.

Comment: Inside my gate, a thousand sages do not know me. The beauty of my garden is invisible. Why should one search for the footprints of the patriarchs? I go to the market place with my wine bottle and return home with my staff. I visit the wine shop and the market, and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.

(Introduction and verse by 12th century Chinese Rinzai Chán (Zen) master Kuòān Shīyuǎn (廓庵師遠, Jp. Kaku-an Shi-en))

Good commentary: https://terebess.hu/english/oxherding.html

My comment:

Based on the commentary, it is pretty clear that Ninth Oxherding is the realization of anatta (the original poem of ninth oxherding describes the experience of no mind but not very clear about anatta, the path is presented as I AM realization to non dual to no mind), and Tenth Oxherding is the actualization of anatta in daily life.

Tenth oxherding is not really an end, just the beginning of the endless pathless path of dynamic practice-enlightenment or practice-actualization. The commentary sounds a little misleading as if one has reached the end. Dogen is clearer on this regard:

To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.

Another comment:

The ninth oxherding poem gives me the impression that the author has spent a lot of effort and time trying to return to or abide in the Source after the initial I AM realization
and then the substantialist nondual phases, before realizing the direct path is to forget and dissolve oneself in vivid manifestation. (Much like many others, including Thusness himself, have spent years or over a decade getting stuck at a background source and other substantialist phases)

The ninth stage verse: 返本還源:返本還源已費功,爭如直下似盲聾,庵中不見庵前物,水自茫茫花自紅。

(English translation taken from website:

Having come back to the origin and returned to the source, you see that you have expended efforts in vain.
What could be superior to becoming blind and deaf in this very moment?
Inside the hermitage, you do not see what is in front of the hermitage.
The water flows of itself and the flowers are naturally red.

I personally think the first sentence might be better translated as "[The very attempt to] return to the Source is already an effort in vain."

The second sentence tries to convey the directness and immediacy of the direct path, (my translation:) "Better to directly [and immediately] 
be as if blind and deaf"

I agree it's unnecessary to waste so much time going through all the oxherding stages 3-8 for too long getting trapped with a ridgepole (a center, a background source) and getting tied or trying to hang onto it for years or decades. I AM is a crucial realization to acquint yourself with that direct taste of Pure Presence. Once realized, rather than reifying false view (enhancing the view of reality/awareness being an unchanging Self, independent, separate, having agency, etc) and getting stuck in a formless background or even substantial nondual for decades one should boldly move on and bring that taste to the foreground and mature it in terms of impersonality, nondual, intensity of luminosity, effortlessness, seeing through and dissolving the need to return, re-confirm and abide. Then finally through contemplation with certain pointers like anatta verses or the Bahiya Sutta, a breakthrough into realization of anatta and effortless actualization will follow.But the original author of the oxherding poems failed to bring out the gist of the realization that will make "no-mind" effortless.

And as Thusness said 12 years back,

"But what exactly is this “witness” we are talking about? It is the manifestation itself! It is the appearance itself! There is no Source to fall back, the Appearance is the Source! Including the moment to moment of thoughts. The problem is we choose, but all is really it. There is nothing to choose.

There is no mirror reflecting
All along manifestation alone is.
The one hand claps
Everything IS!"

"The manifestation is the source, spend not even a moment of thought for the source."

- https://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/.../mistaken...

Which the commentary is clear in elucidating this insight.
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