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Teaching Zen’s Ten Oxherding Pictures through Leonard Cohen’s “Ballad of the Absent Mare”

Ronald Green

The ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 01 April 2017, Vol.24(1), pp.29-58 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Teaching Zen’s Ten Oxherding Pictures through Leonard Cohen’s “Ballad of the Absent Mare”
  • Author/Creator: Ronald Green
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Zen ; Ten Oxherding Pictures ; Leonard Cohen ; Buddhist Iconography ; History & Archaeology
  • Is Part Of: The ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 01 April 2017, Vol.24(1), pp.29-58
  • Description: This paper describes how to teach Zen’s famous Ten Oxherding Pictures through Leonard Cohen’s song “Ballad of the Absent Mare.” It also explains how instructors can contextualize these pictures within the history of Buddhist visual culture and thereby frame Cohen’s adoption of them as a cowboy ballad motif. The essay begins by describing the metaphor of the ox. It then reviews three theories about the origin of the pictures, contextualizing them within the history of Buddhist visual culture. Finally, it provides a PowerPoint presentation that connects each of the Ten Oxherding Pictures to verses of Cohen’s song and offers comments for instructors’ use in class.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 1943-9938 ; E-ISSN: 1943-9946 ; DOI: 10.16995/ane.131