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Like Cats and Dogs – Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism

Steven Heine


The Mu Kōan 無公案 (or Wu Gongan in its original Chinese pronunciation) consists of a brief conversation in which a monk asks master Zhaozhou Congshen whether or not a dog has Buddha-nature, and the reply is Mu (Ch. Wu), literally “No.” This case, the first kōan in the Gateless Gate, is surely the single best-known and most widely circulated and transmitted kōan record of the Zen (Ch. Chan, Kr. Seon) school of Buddhism. It is recognized as “the kōan of kōans,” according to Japanese authority Akizuki Ryūmin, or as the first and foremost example among thousands of cases. In the other major version ... More

Keywords: Buddha-nature, Chan, Zen Buddhism, Caodong, Sōtō, Dahui, Dogen, Dual Version, emphatic Mu, expansive Mu, Mu Koan, Zhaozhou's dog

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199837281
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199837281.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Steven Heine, author
Florida International University