Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mumonkan, Koan 1: Joshu's Mu

"A monk asked Joshu, "Has a dog the Buddha nature?" Joshu answered "Mu."

First of all, "mu' is a word that meaning nothingness. Many zen practitioners speak it during meditation to clear the mind. (I personally dislike this, because I feel that focusing on 'nothingness' is still a focus and, therefore, is not really clearing the mind).

I meditated on this koan at night. After a while, I suddenly thought to myself: "Is the moonlight on my skin touching it or just illuminating it?" With this, I got the answer to the koan.

Joshu's answer meant that it's irrelevant whether a dog has the buddha nature. What has that got to do with anything? The way to truth for oneself is not by posing and answering a lot of dumb questions; it's by meditating and getting in touch with your mind where all the answers are. In a sense, he may even be saying: "Why are you asking me? Meditate and you can learn the answer for yourself."

This may not seem like much of an insight, but think about how - if you practiced it regularly - how much more self-reliant you would be.  How many times you might think before you ask a question to see if you already know the answer. Sometimes, when we ask someone else for an answer, it's because we hope they won't tell us the one we know deep inside is the right one. 

If you can picture this, then you can get an idea of how powerful meditation can be.

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