Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism by Steven Heine

By Steven Heine

Koans are dialogues that stand on the heart of Zen Buddhist literature and are frequently used to impress the "great doubt" in trying out a trainee's development. The Mu Koan comprises a quick dialog within which a monk asks grasp Zhaozhou even if a puppy has Buddha-nature. in response to the most model, the answer is "Mu": actually, "No," yet implying the philosophical inspiration of nothingness. this example is broadly thought of to be the only top- recognized and most generally circulated koan checklist of the Zen college that gives existential unlock from nervousness to achieve non secular illumination.

In a cautious research of the historic and rhetorical foundation of the literature, Steven Heine demonstrates that the Mu model of the case, most popular by way of advocates of the keyword process, doesn't in anyway represent the ultimate about the which means and importance of the Mu Koan. He indicates that one other canonical model, which supplies either "Yes" and "No" responses, needs to be taken into consideration. Like Cats and Dogs deals serious perception and a brand new theoretical point of view on "the koan of koans."

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54 Thus, my goal is to root the two main versions of the case in terms of their respective textual origins and cultural implications. An account of an interesting transnational episode highlights a disconnect between views long held in Chinese and Japanese approaches to the case. Zhaozhou’s temple located in Hebei province near Shijiazhuang south of Beijing (as was custom, the master bore the name of the town and temple) was rebuilt in the late 1980s following its destruction during the Cultural Revolution.

The standpoint of kōan-investigation won the Song debate in that silent-illumination, to the extent that there was such a consistent approach, more or less died out rather quickly, whereas the key-phrase method has prevailed in most quarters, including elements in the Caodong school. It is important to note, however, that the classic disputes were generally not concerned directly with multifaceted variations and divergent vagaries of interpreting the More Cats Than Dogs? 27 Mu Kōan per se, but in most instances involved associated topics regarding styles of meditation that probably should not always be linked to this case.

Many of these do support the key-phrase method by emphasizing Mu-only, while numerous other remarks that prefer another version or understanding of the case tend to bypass, disagree with, or contradict that outlook. ” There are also instances of the kōan being used as a basis for discussing diverse metaphysical issues regarding the role of sentient and insentient beings, in addition to a variety of precepts-oriented concerns about the killing and eating of meat or of ethical matters related to animals that may or may not partake of Buddha-nature.

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