Where Is Your Ox?

In those early days of Zen with Sifu Dr. Kim, I was preoccupied constantly with the koan he had given me, “Where is your ox, Do Chun?  You have a BIG ox, Do Chun! You have to find your ox!”

I was fully perplexed by the challenge of finding my ox. Walking down the street, driving my car, going to sleep at night, the question rattled through my head ceaselessly: ‘What is my ox? Where is my ox? How do I know what my ox is?’

Sifu Dr. Kim did not leave us without instruction. He counselled us, screwing up his face in an expression of questioning, to enter into meditation and ask ourselves over and over again: “What is this?  What is my ox?”

Sitting in zazen meditation, cross legged in the meditation hall, often for hours at a time, I would think I had the riddle of my ox solved, and I would go to Sifu and say, “I think I have found my ox, Sifu Dr. Kim; it is my thinking.”

Sifu would shake his head, look at me gravely and say: “No, Do Chun. It is not your thinking. Keep going, Do Chun. Keep meditating. You must find your ox, Do Chun.”  And so, more confused than ever, I would return to my zazen practice, sit on my cushion, face the wall, peer into the darkness of my mind again, asking into the deep, ‘where is my ox?’

At other times, thinking I had found the real answer, I would go to him and say, “Sifu Dr. Kim, I think I have found my ox. It is my feelings.”

Again, he would shake his head slowly, feigning disappointment, and say, “No, Do Chun. Your ox is not your feelings. You must keep going. You have to find your ox.” I would walk away more perplexed than when I began, wondering to myself, ‘where is my ox?’

Categories Blog Post, Book Excerpt | Tags: , , , | Posted on June 7, 2019

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