Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism

ISBN : 9780199837304

Steven Heine
288 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Dec 2013
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A koan is a narrative or dialogue used to provoke the "great doubt" and test a student's progress in Zen practice. The Mu Koan consists of a brief conversation in which a monk asks master Zhaozhou Congshen whether or not a dog has Buddha-nature. The reply is Mu: literally, "No." This case is widely considered to be the single best known and most widely circulated and transmitted koan record of the Zen school of Buddhism. The Mu Koan is especially well known for the intense personal experiences it offers those seeking an existential transformation from anxiety to spiritual illumination. Steven Heine demonstrates that the Gateless Gate version, preferred by Dahui and so many other key-phrase advocates, does not by any means constitute the final word concerning the meaning and significance of the Mu Koan. Another impact version has been the Dual Version, which is the "Yes-No" rendition to the Mu Koan. Like Cats and Dogs offers critical insight and a new historical perspective on "the koan of koans."


Chapter 1 More Cats Than Dogs? A Tale of Two Versions
Chapter 2 Would a Dog Lick a Pot of Hot Oil? Reconstructing the Ur Version
Chapter 3 Fightin' Like Cats and Dogs: Methodological Reflections on Deconstructing the Emphatic Mu
Chapter 4 Cats and Cows Know That It Is: Textual and Historical Deconstruction of the Ur Version
Chapter 5 Dogs May Chase, But Lions Tear Apart: Reconstructing the Dual Version of the"Moo Koan"
Chapter 6 When Is a Dog Not Really a Dog? Or, Yes! We Have No Buddha-Nature
Sino-Japanese Glossary

About the author: 

Professor of Religion and History and Director of the Institute for Asian Studies, Florida International University

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