The Ten Bulls is an illustrated poem used by followers of Zen Buddhism to explain the search for enlightenment. For me, it also represents the search for meaning in my own Druidry and indeed, in my own life in general. It can be applied to everything, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to Druidry. To see the Ten Bulls, otherwise known as the Ox-herding pictures, you can follow this link:- http://www.sanbo-zen.org/cow_e.html.
The search for enlightenment, the search for the Self and meaning is a major part of any religion or spirituality. What will explain that sense of something missing, that lacking? What will fill it, or guide us to fill it in? What will help us to realise our full potential and live according to our True Self?
For me, this has been blending Zen with Druidry, and in the Ten Bulls can be encapsulated quite neatly. They are, as follows:-
1.In Search of the Bull
When we first come to Druidry, we do not really know what it means, for there are no long-established formal schools or training that we know of. We can look to history, and then find out about courses now offered in Druidry through various organisations, but is this Druidry? It is certainly a version of it – Druidry is what it is, to each and every person. Moreover, to each and every person, it is different, yet still falls under a single banner. Confusing? Hell yeah. In a way, I think it’s meant to be. It encourages us to get out there, and find out more – beginning the adventure.
2.Discovery of the Footprints
We have begun our adventure, and are searching now for what Druidry is. We catch glimpses of it in the works and writings of others, yet we still have not experienced Druidry for ourselves. Like the wind, we can’t see it, we can only see its effect on other things. We continue and go deeper into our Druidry to find out what it really is.
3.Perceiving the Bull
We’ve caught a glimpse! We’ve had an insight into what Druidry is – we know that we’re now on the right path in our journey of self-discovery. Yet it is still not entirely clear – the experience is not yet full. We run after the bull in the hopes of understanding.
4.Catching the Bull
We’ve found our Druidry! After many twists and turns, we’ve come across a path, or developed our own, that seems to flow with the essential spirit that we call the Self. We may find several bulls, even, until we find the right bull, but eventually we come across a method, training, or experience that reflects our inner core. We harness that energy, but what do we do with it now?
5.Taming the Bull
We learn that knowing what Druidry is, is simply not enough. We must practice with it, again and again, experience it and not simply read about it. We hold rituals, we meditate, we get our fingernails dirty. We do the work necessary, and learn discipline.
6.Riding the Bull Home
This is Druidry! This is what it means, and it is a joyous expression of our inner souls. We have a sense of “coming home” – we know how to celebrate the seasons and each other, and we may find the beginnings of an inner peace hitherto unknown.
7.The Bull Transcended
We then realise that Druidry is not something external, nor even internal – that it is something to be lived. There is no separateness, no duality to Druidry – it is not a way of life, but it is life itself. There is a stillness to it.
8.Both Bull and Self Transcended
We are no longer separate from the world and from Druidry either. Druidry is us, it was always us. We experience each and every moment with the same reverence we would to ritual – everything becomes sacred.
9.Reaching the Source
We have reached the source of life itself, and find that meaning or no meaning have no place – only life itself. There is no Druidry. There is no Self. There is no separateness. All is unified under the banner of Life, changing moment by moment, unconcerned with meaning or no meaning.
10.Return to Society
We return to integrate what we have learned from our experiences, to share them and to help others who may be seeking. We do what we need to do for ourselves, our family, the environment without any selfish thoughts – we simply do. With the knowledge that we have gained that so expresses ourselves, and which is known as Druidry, we live as best we can, in the world, present, awake and aware.