I’m just throwing this out there to see if it sticks. The animal–large and kind of ominous but pretty harmless in the end–is a common sight across Vietnam (and Southeast Asia), especially in the mountainous north. But the big dark brooding beast has never really in my experience been anything other than placid and incurious. More content to sit bathing in a cool muddy pond under the midday sun or to let a child ride along on its back than to buck or bray or do whatever it is that a 1,200kg horned bovid does.
According to Wikipedia, thousands of years of domestic breeding have probably dumbed the noble water buffalo down quite a bit, and therefore enlightenment could be something of a leap for them. So maybe Buddha they’re not, but I do still envy the way that everything just seems to kind of hit them and then sink without bubbles. I want to be like that.