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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
75 spring 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly THE BOOK OF MU Essential Writings on Zen’s Most important Koan Edited by James ishmael Ford & Melissa Blacker Wisdom publications, 2011 $17.95; 366 pages reviewed by steven Heine monk’s query, “Does the dog have buddhanature?” The Mu koan is the first case recorded in the frequently cited Gateless Gate collection from the thirteenth century, and it is usually the introductory koan for training disciples. In Korean Zen it is sometimes the only case, but presented in multiple variations to check the progress of a trainee’s degree of understanding. The Book of Mu is a collection of about forty brief com- mentaries, both classical and modern, on the Mu koan from Asian and Western sources. This is the third book in a series on seminal ideas in Zen theory and practice—following The Art of Sitting and Sitting With Koans—and although the essays are at times repetitive in referring back to the Gateless Gate’s interpretation, they collectively do a very thorough job of highlighting the significance of the Mu koan in Zen Bud- dhism today. STEVEN HEINE is a professor of East Asian and comparative religion at Florida International University, and the director of its Institute for Asian Studies. He recently co-edited Zen Masters , and is the author of Zen Skin, Zen Marrow. Reviews Koans, the spiritual riddles extracted from Zen masters’ tales about enlightenment in classical China, lie at the heart of Rinzai tradition practice today, especially in its centers in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, but also in the West. Of the hundreds of koans studied during Rinzai training, the most prominent is the Mu koan, in which Chinese mas- ter Zhaozhou (Joshu) responds, “Mu” (literally, “No”) to a DOES a DOG HAVE BUDDHANATURE? WELL, YES and NO PHOTO AnJi TiLLEMAns & MUKHA WWW.WEIMARANERPAINTING.COM