Thursday, October 13, 2011

Joshu's Dog


A monk asked Joshu, a Chinese Zen master: "Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?"

Joshu answered: "Mu."

Countless Students have lost sleep and appetite on this "MU"...

For one thing, Joshu did not say "MU". He said "WU", because he was Chinese, not Japanese.

And "WU" is  the way Chinese dogs bark, English speaking dogs do "WOOF", Chinese dogs do "WU". Anybody with a bit of common sense knows that.

Japanese dogs, I don't remember...

Two important facts well known by those with the slightest experience of the Canine world: 

  1. Dogs don't do "MU" in any language.   
  2. No matter their nationality or culture, dogs bark to display their unhappiness about the way things are, and to signify something like  "DON'T DO THIS, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, DON'T COME HERE, STAY AWAY !"

So some smart disciple asks a question about the nature of a dog, and the Master barks back to him.  That's it! It does not mean "no" it does not mean "yes", it's barking.

Now the student with a lust for deep meaning tries to figure that one out and loses sleep over it. 

When they translated that into Japanese, they should have said the student asked if a cow had Buddha nature, Cows usually do "MU". However, the "MU" of a cow does not carry the same disapproval meaning as the "WU" of a dog... 

Now, do you imagine what would it be if the student had asked "Does a giraffe has  Buddha Nature or not ?" 

Once upon a time, during a sword seminar in Pensacola, my friend Joe asked Carl Long Sensei something like "Sensei, when you perform this waza, do you lean forward, or do you lean backward ? "

And the answer came "YES"...


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