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MuKoan

As I kept saying on my ZenBuddhism page, I think Zen is simple, the only problem is that it is hard to talk about it. On this page, I will try to talk about the ZenKoan known as "Mu": "Does a dog have Buddha Nature? Mu!" (Mu literally means "no")

Since this is a typical Koan for newbies, you're supposed to give your own answers. I don't know what will happen to your own progress if you are supposed to "solve" the Koan and read on. Perhaps you shouldn't. And if you feel I am a fool, send me some FeedBack. Then I can at least try to do something about it.

Anyway, here's what I would say and do. As I'm limited to plain text, I'll first resort to poetic images, and then say why some of it cannot be said, and and then what I feel while considering Mu!

So, does a dog have the Buddha nature? Listen to the answer: "Mu!" I imagine a big white dog with brown spots looking at me. We are playing tug-o-war with a towel. Mu! Wuff! -- as a German dog would say. Do you ever see the dogs in the parks, running around? Sniffing at each other, jumping with joy, racing after sticks and balls, proudly presenting their treasure, jumping away, running in circles, yapping, barking. That is Mu!

What it is not: To think about the Buddha nature is foolish. What is it to you? What is to a dog? What it is, what it feels like, cannot be said in words, because there are no words for emotions, for not-thinking, for peace-of-mind. Thinking about peace-of-mind is not peace-of-mind, thinking about peace-of-mind means that you do not experience peace-of-mind. So how do you want to understand it? If you have felt peace-of-mind, then you will recognize it when others speak about it -- not because you understand the explanation, but because you recognize the foolish awkward language they are using trying to explain it.

What does it mean to think about Mu!? A dog couldn't care less about the Buddha nature. And yet the dogs are happy, full of themselves, running around, wagging their tails, chasing sticks and other dogs. To see this, to imagine it, to feel empathy, a certain degree of identification, of imagining how you would feel if you were a dog, that is an understanding of their Buddha nature. If you think longer about it, then your understanding of what dog-joy is, and -- at the same time -- your understanding of the huge gap between humans and dogs and the fundamental impossibility of understanding what dog-joy is, will deepen.

On the surface, therefore, the answer is "No." But asking the question and expecting an answer is foolish. There is something going on when you watch dogs, and that something is the only thing that matters. That is all there is to your existence and dogs. It is very little and yet it is so much, so much detail, the longer you watch the more amazing it gets. The grass, then sun, dogs shitting and dogs licking each other, admiring and loving their masters, fearing their masters, following orders and playing. There is so much there that I'm tempted to say that there is a world out there waiting for you -- if I didn't know already that such is the nature of the world. It gets richer the more you experience it.

I am getting carried away, as you can see. :)

Anyway, seeing dogs makes me very happy when they are happy, and it makes me very sad when I see some low-life Nazi with his Pitbull or Rottweiler, yanking him violently, dominating him, bringing out the worst of dog and men. But such is life and the world, and everything in it. Unspeakable.

To answer the Mu koan is supposed to teach you this, to let you experience this. Unfortunately, you cannot be told the experience -- you need to experience it yourself. And note that what you feel while you go through the Mu koan will be different for you. You have experienced another life, met other dogs, had other images. Zen is about being spontaneous and creative like a child -- and yet to benefit of an entire life of experience. You don't want to forget the past. It is part of you and and the world. You are the world.

And next time when you come by a park, take a moment to watch the dogs. Feel the inexplicable joy of life fill you, raising from the bottoms of you belly and radiating out of your ears.


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