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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
79 spring 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly meaning of the Mu koan. Even before Dahui and Hongzhi were referring to the case, the record of Yuanwu’s teacher Wuzu in the eleventh century contains the remark, “The master ascended the hall and said: ‘Does a dog have the bud- dhanature or not? Still, it is a hundred thousand times better than a cat.’ He stepped down.” A verse from this period by a monk named Fo Yinyuan conveys an inconclusiveness which relativizes our understanding of the Mu koan, “The great function of total activity expresses freedom. / Yes and no are two parts of a pair. / How much karmic conscious- ness comes into people and dogs? / Henceforth we shall always remember Zhaozhou for commenting on this.” A verse by Benxue Yi reads, “The dog has buddhanature / The dog does not have buddhanature / Always walking toward both ends. / One arrowhead cannot be used to reach two targets, / And even with its karmic consciousness deriving from the past, it is only a dog.” The approach to the nonduality of “yes” and “no”—or positive and nega- tive—responses to the question about the dog’s buddhanature expressed in these verses from the classical period is at once in accord with and yet contra- dictory to many of the interpretations contained in this book, which is focused exclusively on negation. Of course, no single volume can be expected to cover all the possible topics related to the main theme, and this after all is The Book of Mu rather than “The Book of Mu and U.” The book will be sure to inspire many Zen students and practitioners to seek out their own unique appropriations of the koan from among the multitude of responses cur- rently available as well as those which are yet to come. As the editors write persuasively, “All of these many works about this one word are pointers toward your own intimate relationship to the koan Mu, to your own buddhanature. The sincere young monk and the vener- able teacher Zhaozhou are alive in you right now, ready to accompany you on this journey of discovery. They truly are, after all, you yourself.”