Ox Seeking Pictures (Simudo)
This is a series of painting featuring ‘a boy seeking the ox’. This is a metaphoric visual representation of spiritual cultivation process to get the aims of Daesoon Jinrihoe. Therefore, each of the picture has its own metaphor. Ox is December animal in Chinese zodiac, which is 12th month. 12 means Dao as it includes a full cycle of creation, transformation, and fruition of nature.
In other words, ox symbolize the Dao of Daesoon Truth which Sangje unfolded into this world. The boy is considered as a devotee who cultivate himself in Daesoon Truth. The cycle of six pictures depicts the journey of spiritual self-cultivation by using a metaphor of a boy finding an ox.
① The first picture is Deep Contemplation Leading to Awakening (심심유오).
The boy, under a pine tree, contemplates the questions of human existence, asking himself ‘What is life?‘, ‘Where did I come from?‘, ’After death where do I go?’ and ‘Where am I heading to?‘ These questions are so different from his bread and butter issues he has had in his daily routine life. The background shows the season is spring.
② The second picture is to Find and Follow Heavenly Teachings (봉덕신교).
This picture is the stage where the boy is introduced to the Daesoon Truth of Sangje by his destiny (or Karmic affinity). As the boy is pointing to a direction with his finger, it means he determined the path he has to go.
The boy finds the hoof prints left by the white ox. These prints symbolize the guidance of divine beings, that is, a heavenly teachings, which guide the devotee to the Daesoon Truth revealed by Sangje.
The stepping-stones represent the support of ancestors who have accumulated virtuous deeds on Heaven for ages or the care given from spiritual mentors who lead him along into the right path in his cultivation process.
Even though he has not fully acknowledged these benefits from them and has not yet grasped the truth, he has to keep going to find it. It is still spring time in the background.
③ The third one is to Practice Dao diligently and Overcome Hardships (면이수지).
The boy catches a glimpse of the ox, but only its hindquarters. In this stage, he carries out what he had learned as theory. In other workds, he puts the acquired knowledge into practice in a real life.
However, he still has yet to realize Dao of Daesoon Truth. Furthermore, he faces lightening, rainstorms, and a steep cliff. This is when the devotees inevitably encounter problems and difficulties during their spiritual cultivation and then try to overcome those hardships.
Even though the boy knows very well that there will be many obstacles ahead of him such as bumpy roads, steep cliffs, and bad weather, he still refuses to give up.
Here, hardships are symbolically represented by lightning, rainstorms, and a steep cliff; all of which remind us of ‘Haewon-sangsaeng (Resolution of Grievances for Mutual beneficence)’, one of tenets of Daesoon Jinrihoe. Haewon-sangsaeng* is the whole process of resolving all kinds of Cheok* and Geop-aek*.
Dojeon said “In every path traveled to achieve our aim, we inevitably face obstacles. This is called 'Geop-aek.' We should know that our success lies in overcoming those forms of Geop-aek.”
In our process of cultivation, everyone must go through all kinds of hardships originating from our own bodies and minds, as well as hardships from people around us.
Haewon-sangsaeng is the idea by which we can resolve and overcome those hardships and difficulties. This can be achieved only by practicing the specific forms of spiritual cultivation in Daesoon Jinrihoe while living within our means and promoting the betterment of others. Our cultivation methods are unprecedented and unique ones that were created by Doju Jo Jeongsan.
In particular, the steep cliff seems impossible to get across as a human. However, in the next painting, the boy has eventually managed to cross it, and he thereby meets with the white ox. This indicates that we can always find answers and solve problems, with the help of divine beings as well as our spiritual mentors, even if finding those answers and solving those problems initially seems beyond possibility. The background shows the season has changed into summer.
* Cheok: an emotional grudge or grievance that another person conceives against you.
* Geop-aek: a fated disaster or obstacle which blocks your success or achievement of your aim due a past misbehavior or transgression that you committed.
* Haewon-sangsaeng (Resolution of Grievances for Mutual Beneficence)
This tenet includes the whole process of preventing Cheok from arising and also resolving it. Cheok is an emotional grudge or grievance that another person conceives against you. Cheok could be loosely translated to ‘negative karma’ in Buddhist terminology.
When someone fails to fulfill his or her desire because of you or is deeply offended by your words or actions, said person feels so frustrated that a grudge is formed against you. This is how Cheok arises.
That is, this Cheok could be the result of a provocation against someone through misbehavior or transgressions you may have committed due to vanity or greed in your present life or also possibly in a previous life.
Since the emotional grudge, Cheok is the effect of another’s spirit, it can also be called a ‘Cheok spirit’. This spirit can block you from progressing towards your own success or achievement of a given purpose by causing your situation or circumstance to worsen or through direct harm to you. These actions of hindering carried out by a Cheok spirit are known as ‘Geop-aek.’
The Cheok spirit could be innate based on previous grievances from your past lives or it could have moved to you from one of your family members or ancestors as these are blood relations.
Therefore, actions such as hating others, disregarding favors from others, doing harm to others, speaking ill of others, and stubbornly persisting in your opinion without any will to compromise are all potential causes of Cheok.
As this Cheok is the root cause which brings about your various misfortunes and failures, Daesoon Jinrihoe is mainly focused on resolution of all such cases of ‘Cheok’ or ‘Geop-aek’ by practicing specific forms of spiritual cultivation that were created by Holy Founder Jo Jeongsan while living within our means and promoting the betterment of others in order not to provoke any further Cheok.
Then, all grudges and grievances piled up from remote ages among human beings as well as between human beings and divine beings will be resolved and this will lead to the realization of ultimate peace and harmony for all humankind and humankind and the Earthly Paradise of Later World.
④ The fourth one is to Keep Devoting Oneself Incessantly to Dao (성지우성).
The boy finally met the ox and he is petting the ox. He has safely crossed the dangerous cliff and the sky got cleared. Now he has to get familiar with the ox, but he still has remnants (grievances or grudges) from the Former World of mutual conflict. He has to keep on practicing the Dao of Daesoon Truth in order to internalize it into his mind and body until his mind and body are in unification with Dao of Daesoon Truth. The season is changing into autumn, which means his hard efforts are being rewarded into fruition.
⑤ The fifth one is Perfected Unification with Dao (도통진경).
The boy rides the white ox and quietly plays a flute. Riding on the back of the ox means he became one with the ox. That is, he reached the state ‘self as Dao and Dao as self’.’ Now the boy has cleared himself of all kinds of negative Karma (grudges or grievances) from the Former World and perfectly unified with Dao, Daesoon Truth of Sangje, He became in complete state of quiet mind and quiet body. The season is obviously autumn, which indicates his cultivation came to the full fruition.
⑥ The last one is The Enlightened World of Dao (도지통명).
The boy turned into an Earthly Immortal*. The place where the ox had been has changed into the beautiful land, where celestial maidens play music, the herbs of eternal youth (elixir plants) are in full bloom, and cranes leisurely enjoy peace in a nearby meadow. When you see this painting, what image comes to your mind? or Does it remind you of anything? This painting indicates the Enlightened World of Dao. That is to say, the Earthly Paradise of Later World, where Daesoon Truth is fully realized all over the three realms of Heaven, Earth and Humanity.
In this time, the world will become one family so that people will be governed in reasonable and rational manner not by power or punishment. And they will live in perfect harmony without any conflict and struggle. A man who is in government service, being moderate and rational, shall not have more honor than he deserves. People will no longer be subject to agony or distress caused from their resentment, avarice or lewdness. They will free themselves from suffering caused from disease or sickness and burial process after dying. They never age and never die. In addition, there will no longer be any distinction between the rich and the poor. People will come and go anywhere at their choice. With heaven being lowered, people ascend and descend at their will even into ninth Heaven. Also, their wisdom will be ultimately brightened that people will be well-versed in the past, present and future and all the worlds both in humanity and in divinity. There will be no longer three disasters resulted from flood, fire, and wind. Eventually the world will become literally an Earthly Paradise full of auspicious and propitious energy.
*Earthly Immortals : Perfected and ideal human beings who have ultimately attained divine status and immortality through the spiritual cultivation of Daesoon Truth.