Perhaps the most famous of Zen's traditional texts is the Ten Oxherding Pictures. The ox, in India, is considered to be a holy living being; a servant of God, it is held in great reverence by both Hindus and Buddhists. Today we think of the ox or the cow as something to eat or the source of milk. But in the olden days the ox served as our very hands: the garden was tilled and planted and dug by this silent ox; without it the crops could not be planted. We did not forget that the ox was an animal, but it was also a friend and lived under our roof, and was taken good care of so it would not become sick. People fed the ox before they ate themselves and gave it a clean place to live. It was precious and could be depended upon. When the industrial revolution began, machines took over the jobs of the oxen, and the oxen that required so much care disappeared and with them all those things we learned from them. Machines will not teach us to have a caring mind. The ox that did our work so patiently taught us to know that place in ourselves. To live like the ox, to not be superficial and shallow but to quietly do our work with depth and patience—how many of us have oxen around to learn this from?
"Work and Society", The Path to Bodhidharma, Shodo Harada Roshi