The Meaning of Mu

Collapse
X
 
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts
  • Jinyo
    Member
    • Jan 2012
    • 1957

    The Meaning of Mu

    I have been trying to grasp the meaning of Mu for a couple of weeks now.

    Asking whether a dog has Buddha nature hasn't really helped! :?

    I'm reading Robert Aitken's 'The Mind of Clover' and he does rather assume that when he writes
    'Let Mu breathe Mu' the reader will know what that means. He makes a lot of reference to Mu.

    I've read quite a lot about Mu now - but I can't find a way in.

    I think I understand that one is meant to learn through the process of letting go of conceptual thought when
    approaching Mu - but I just feel more and more confused.

    Is this why the Rinzai tradition say don't even bother without a rinzai teacher?

    Would appreciate some help on this - tried doing a search on Treeleaf for Mu but nothing came up.
    I'm sure there will be some previous posts on the site somewhere. :?:

    Gassho

    Willow
  • Jarkko
    Member
    • Oct 2007
    • 58

    #2
    Re: The Meaning of Mu

    Originally posted by willow
    I have been trying to grasp the meaning of Mu for a couple of weeks now.

    Asking whether a dog has Buddha nature hasn't really helped! :?

    I'm reading Robert Aitken's 'The Mind of Clover' and he does rather assume that when he writes
    'Let Mu breathe Mu' the reader will know what that means. He makes a lot of reference to Mu.

    I've read quite a lot about Mu now - but I can't find a way in.

    I think I understand that one is meant to learn through the process of letting go of conceptual thought when
    approaching Mu - but I just feel more and more confused.

    Is this why the Rinzai tradition say don't even bother without a rinzai teacher?

    Would appreciate some help on this - tried doing a search on Treeleaf for Mu but nothing came up.
    I'm sure there will be some previous posts on the site somewhere. :?:

    Gassho

    Willow

    Hi willow,

    It is a koan. if you try to find answers outside it is impossible. self and only you can answer it, does a dog have buddha nature?
    in the end it is just a words


    Who is asking what?

    all good for your searching

    Gassho

    Comment

    • natezenmaster
      Member
      • Oct 2009
      • 160

      #3
      Re: The Meaning of Mu

      Willow,

      There is a similar thread with a nearly identical subject already, here:



      You may find various responses within...

      _/_ Nate

      Comment

      • Omoi Otoshi
        Member
        • Dec 2010
        • 801

        #4
        The Meaning of Mu

        EDIT: Far too slow!
        In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
        you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
        now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
        the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

        Comment

        • Jinyo
          Member
          • Jan 2012
          • 1957

          #5
          Re: The Meaning of Mu

          Thanks for the link - I thought this would have come up before

          I've ordered the James Ford book 'Essential Writings on Zen's most important Koan'. I kinda know it's going to have
          a rinzai aprroach - but I'm curious - because I don't seem able to grasp MU by dancing with it. This probably tells me something
          I need to learn ops:

          Anyway this is my dance with the Koan and I'm afraid it's still a dance of words

          Does a dog have Buddha nature?

          Black dog rolls in the snow
          yellow eyes - two drops of sunlight
          perceives something of some-thing,
          an answer?
          the dog's bark may echo yours
          or not,
          the tail chasing the tail?

          time for bed...... will not be taking the damn dog into my sleep which is recomended by the Rinzai tradition :wink:

          Gassho

          Willow

          Comment

          • Jarkko
            Member
            • Oct 2007
            • 58

            #6
            Re: The Meaning of Mu

            Dear willow,

            Why do you want to "hold" the answer? buddishm isnt intellectual, it is live life to the fullest.


            Gassho

            Comment

            • Seiryu
              Member
              • Sep 2010
              • 620

              #7
              Re: The Meaning of Mu

              Dear Willow.

              As stated already, Koans are not something to be figured out in the head. There not things to be figured out at all. You mentioned your dance with MU, that will not help because it still shows two. there is the You that is dancing. Let Mu dance on its own, dance as mu dancing mu, zazen sitting zazen, the breath breathing the breath, then it will start to become clear.

              As soon as you think you have to figure out the koan you are ten thousand miles from the mark. All the koan is doing is pointing back to this very moment. There is no need to figure out this very moment, it takes care of its self. Just completely merge with this moment, and be present to it with full body and mind.
              Then Joshu's answer will become as clear as night and day.

              See where the koan is pointing to, and go there.

              A monk asked Joshu, "Has the dog the Buddha nature?"
              Joshu replied, "Mu"
              Sorry for speaking on a topic I don't know much about.
              Humbly,
              清竜 Seiryu

              Comment

              • natezenmaster
                Member
                • Oct 2009
                • 160

                #8
                Re: The Meaning of Mu

                Originally posted by Jarkko
                Why do you want to "hold" the answer? buddishm isnt intellectual, it is live life to the fullest.
                Love your definition of Buddhism.. I believe Willow knows that it shouldn't be an intellectual exercise thus her "still a dance of words".. but as you all have tried to indicate, "dancing with a koan" is dancing with delusion and problem solving, as we are the koan. So we dance only with ourselves.. IMHO.. and let me tell you, I dance with myself all the time.. and I'm a lousy dancer.. other than the robot - I can do a killer robot.

                [youtube] [/youtube]

                Do robot dancers have Buddha nature?

                _/_ Nate

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39454

                  #9
                  Re: The Meaning of Mu

                  You Dancing MU - MU Just Dancing!

                  From the other thread ...

                  A monk asked Joshu, a Chinese Zen master: `Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?'
                  Joshu answered: `Mu.' (No, or "does not)


                  In another version of the Koan I like, Joshu one time tells one monk "yes", but then one time "mu" ... to the very same question.

                  Now, this can be taken in a number of ways. One is "Hey, fella, don't get caught up in philosophical non-questions like that, like 'how many angels fit on the head of a pin' The other (which really is not all so different) is that "MU" represents "Emptiness" ... and in the beautiful dance of Emptiness, such questions become non-issues. Does a dog have Buddha-nature or not? JUST DANCE!

                  viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3981&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a
                  That leads to one hot number ... The Dance of Emptiness, Sunyata Salsa

                  These days, I like to try to explain the Buddhist concept of "Sunyata" (Emptiness) using the image of a .... 'Dance' ... 'Dancing' ... 'Dancers and Dancing' ...

                  A universe of dancers (including you and me, all beings) are danced up in this dance that the whole universe is dancing ... each dancer seemingly standing apart on her own two feet ... yet each dancer simultaneously seen as just the dance-dancing-the-dance. It is important to envision this "dance of all things" as leaving nothing out, and so all encompassing that we cannot even speak ... from each dancer's perspective ... of "before" the dance or "after" (such that each dancer is always dancing, right from the moment of her seeming birth to death. There is no dancer who is not dancing from the moment of becoming a dancer ... there is not "off stage" and taking a break ... not so long as we live and breathe anyway ... and no dancer apart from the dance or who is not now dancing.). There is nothing but the dance and the motion, the separation lost in a lively, enlivening, living blur ...
                  viewtopic.php?p=41841#p41841

                  Gassho, J
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Jinyo
                    Member
                    • Jan 2012
                    • 1957

                    #10
                    Re: The Meaning of Mu

                    thanks for feedback - but a long way from this being clear

                    Adrian - if you're reading this thread I empathise with your comments from the previous thread - if grasping MU - or working with koans - is totally removed from words/intellect -why the trillions of words that have been/are still being
                    written about Zen?

                    Because I don't 'feel' MU - I can only use my intellect at the moment. I'm not sure that the intellect is always an enemy - isn't the unhooking from it
                    the process we learn from?

                    I feel I learn more from a sharing of the struggle with the process (staying in touch with Buddha nature, MU - etc is hard)

                    Apart from Nate - who understood that I understand this is not primarily an intellectual process - I feel a little disheartened by the feedback in this thread.

                    I have never felt this on Treeleaf before and I'm wondering if perhaps there is something about Koans that is best worked through one to one between a teacher
                    and student. :?

                    This is probably my defences - so I need to step back - figure out why I feel a bit upset.

                    Gassho

                    Willow

                    Comment

                    • Shokai
                      Treeleaf Priest
                      • Mar 2009
                      • 6391

                      #11
                      Re: The Meaning of Mu

                      Koans don't have answers! Koans are one way up the mountain. I recall feeling somewhat the way you and Adrian do right now. You can travel the path several ways; you can ride on a donkey, you can drive a BMW but, I prefer climbing the stairs one at a time, moment by moment. Somehow I don't dance as fast as I used to but,, better! :lol:
                      合掌,生開
                      gassho, Shokai

                      仁道 生開 / Jindo Shokai

                      "Open to life in a benevolent way"

                      https://sarushinzendo.wordpress.com/

                      Comment

                      • Omoi Otoshi
                        Member
                        • Dec 2010
                        • 801

                        #12
                        Re: The Meaning of Mu

                        Originally posted by willow
                        perhaps there is something about Koans that is best worked through one to one between a teacher and student. :?
                        Yes, I think you may be right! At least if you approach it from a Rinzai koan introspection perspective.
                        Years ago I tried doing koans without a teacher and I didn't find it helpful for my practice. But it may be different for different people of course. Soto and Rinzai may lead to the same pointless point in the end, but with through very different approaches. I think it may be hard to take some Rinzai and mix it into your Soto practice, without a Rinzai teacher.
                        I was stuck with Mu for years, so I know where you're coming from. Only after sitting regularly for a while, I feel that it and many other koans are finally starting to make sense. There is usually one understanding of every koan that is the main point, according to the Rinzai folks. But for you, there may be different understandings and ways of interpretations. I wouldn't carry it with you like a red hot iron ball in your throat. It's painful and you have no teacher to guide you when your despair. I take this koan out and play with it once in a while. Personally, I don't like the word emptiness at all because empty means something completely different in ordinary English than the buddhist meaning of the word. Mu may be helpful in that it means absolutely nothing to us westerners!

                        And you should be thankful for your intellect in my opinion!

                        Taka care,
                        Pontus
                        In a spring outside time, flowers bloom on a withered tree;
                        you ride a jade elephant backwards, chasing the winged dragon-deer;
                        now as you hide far beyond innumerable peaks--
                        the white moon, a cool breeze, the dawn of a fortunate day

                        Comment

                        • Rich
                          Member
                          • Apr 2009
                          • 2601

                          #13
                          Re: The Meaning of Mu

                          It's frustrating when "I" can't understand something. A teacher told me to drop the "I".
                          _/_
                          Rich
                          MUHYO
                          無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

                          https://instagram.com/notmovingmind

                          Comment

                          • Jundo
                            Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                            • Apr 2006
                            • 39454

                            #14
                            Re: The Meaning of Mu

                            Originally posted by Jarkko
                            ... buddishm isnt intellectual, it is live life to the fullest.
                            Originally posted by Seiryu
                            Koans are not something to be figured out in the head. There not things to be figured out at all.
                            Originally posted by willow

                            I have never felt this on Treeleaf before and I'm wondering if perhaps there is something about Koans that is best worked through one to one between a teacher
                            and student. :?
                            There is absolutely nothing wrong with understanding a Koan intellectually ... so long as one does not stop there.

                            Most of the Koans do have some "point" being made arising out of Zen and Buddhist perspectives/non-perspectives and philosophy (for example, a lot of the Koans are about Emptiness or the Relative/Absolute or the nature of a Buddha) ... and it is baloney for one to say that one must ignore, or not "think about" that aspect of the Koan and that it is not helpful to understand it on an intellectual level. BULL & BALONEY! Few if any legitimate teachers of Zen assert such an extreme opinion (at least if you read them closely), although many people bandy such assertions about.

                            Such assertions come from (1) people who ignore the fact that most monks of old were very highly trained and familiar with the central questions and perspectives of Zen Buddhist philosophy and teachings, and so were able to "pick up" the implied message in the Koans ... for example Dogen, Matsu, Ta Hui, Hakuin and about everyone else were very much highly educated and immersed in Buddhist culture, history and teachings and thus knew the back story on the Koans and what the discussion was about "between the lines", (2) certain radicals who, although a minority, misused the Koans by emphasizing some extreme view of "A Way Beyond Words And Letters" that overlooked the fact that all the great teachers first understood the letters in order to go beyond them! :shock: , (3) the modern foolish types who think that, because the Koans are written in a way that is hard to understand to modern readers 1000 years and several cultures removed from their writing, that they are not supposed to be understandable! Don't believe the propaganda!

                            As we shall encounter when we delve into the Book of Serenity, such is not the case. Often the Koans can be understood by the intellect ... although the message is often shocking, MIND BLOWING, an attack on our ordinary suppositions about who we are and how the world is!

                            HOWEVER, the point is that one must not stop with an intellectual understanding, but go beyond and live it! Do not just get trapped in your head, armchair philosophizing and spinning mental wheels!

                            Simply, it is like the difference between understanding the rules of baseball (important in playing baseball) ... and actually taking the field and playing baseball. It is the difference between understanding music and how to play a guitar (important in playing a guitar) ... and actually playing a guitar with all one's heart. It is like the gap between an intellectual understanding of romance and sexual reproduction (a bit of knowledge is helpful even here ) ... and making love.


                            Got the point? Give the Koans some time ... don't be too worried that they are too hard to understand the first few times, or that they don't ring your bell right away. Like playing baseball, guitar ... or making love ... one does tend to get better at it with time! 8)

                            Gassho, J
                            ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                            Comment

                            • SoR
                              Member
                              • Dec 2011
                              • 103

                              #15
                              Re: The Meaning of Mu

                              Thank you for your teaching Jundo.

                              To Willow: My experience with koans has been both frustrating and rewarding. I've left interviews not knowing how I could possibly answer then had an answer just come to later, seemingly out of nowhere. For me, I think it is best worked on with a qualified teacher. Maybe the next book club will be a good start for you.

                              Comment

                              Working...