In ancient China and Japan, the doctrine of Buddha Nature was widely promulgated. All sentient beings have the potential to awaken, to become Buddha. This is not just human beings, but plants and animals, perhaps even the very rocks that surround us.
One of Joshu’s disciples, after hearing that even dogs have Buddha Nature, asked his master, “Do I have Buddha Nature.” Joshu responded, “Mu”… meaning No.
The disciple felt horribly humiliated and depressed. “Master, how can you possibly say that dogs have Buddha Nature (deep consciousness), but not I?”
Joshu quipped, “Because you ask the question!”
This was a set up. We all take ourselves so seriously that we forget the big picture. Joshu wanted to awaken his disciple to the runaway delusions of his own mind.
Dogs just are. They don’t question anything. They are loyal to their masters. They eat, run and sleep. They appreciate anything you give them, and love you for just being you.
We, humans, on the other hand, question everything. We are constantly chattering in our head. Our thoughts are so hyperactive that we see without perceiving and hear without listening.
Half the time, we aren’t even there! Hardly ever happy, we are totally out of touch with our own potential to be Buddha. The master has to somehow pierce through our everyday thought processes to bring us into the moment.
Mu is the Japanese way of saying “No.” The Japanese culture is very much against saying, “No,” as it is considered the ultimate in rudeness.
The founder of SONY Corporation, Akio Morita, wrote a controversial book, "The Japan That Can Say No." It was a shock to the people of Japan, themselves, that they might actually have the right to say, “No.”
Imagine, then, an early disciple being told “No” to an earnest question. It was simply devastating to him in a highly self-conscious society where shame, not guilt, was the ultimate dishonor.
Yet, actually, Mu means something more akin to Yes / No or Not Applicable or None of the Above. Buddhist logic is highly convoluted. A thing IS or IS NOT, or Neither IS nor IS NOT, or Both IS and Is NOT. What Joshu was trying to say is, “Ask again.” Or, “What a stupid question!”
We often laugh at this joke, because we have all been at a place of feeling totally ridiculous, or more to the point, deeply unconscious.
We wonder how we could be so out of it, so mechanical in our everyday responses.
Buddhism, however, favors an attitude of being open to infinite possibility. Everything you experience is fluid. It is constantly moving. You never step into the same river twice. The bullet train passengers are not the same people when they arrive at your station as they were when they left their own.
Buddha Nature is our True Self as pure consciousness. In awakening, we become conscious of being conscious, that everything that emerging within the field of our consciousness is generated by our True Self.
Nothing is as it appears. Everything is a pattern within our consciousness.
If there is ever, only consciousness, then everything we see is conscious. Ostensibly, this might even apply to computers. The great Eastern gurus constantly remind us that it is all a play of consciousness.
And let me add to it… it is all about being able to see beauty in everything… along the way (good or bad within inner or outer).
It is the gift of human beings to be conscious in a way that other creatures don’t necessarily enjoy. While we can be self-conscious and self-absorbed in a negative way, we can also be conscious of being conscious in the sense of recognizing our own divinity.
On a practical level, we fall back to sleep every single morning that we choose the predictable and familiar over the daring and adventurous. We shrink back from growth and exploration. Our every impulse is controlled by fear, rather than love.
We keep ourselves within our conceptual cocoons. You have seen your wife or husband a thousand times. Eventually, you stop seeing him or her newly. You look at her and actually see her as she once was. You literally stop seeing her in present time. You can even end up speaking past each other, mask to mask.
The amazing deaf and dumb Helen Keller wrote, “Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.” Most of us continue to actually choose nothing. Why take any risks? You could get hurt! Why not just cover your ass, rather than risk exposure?
Related article: Exit Endless Suffering
As Joseph Campbell once put it, “All the gods [and goddesses] are within you.” We refuse to admit the possibility that we are ALREADY ENLIGHTENED. We hold to a position that things are all messed up so that we don’t have to declare that it is ALL PERFECT JUST AS IT IS.
This would be like saying, “God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world!”. You are the hidden factor in every single experience you have ever had. However, that YOU is not your body or your mind. It is pure SUBJECT. All subject, with no real objects.
Cop to it. Admit it. You are THE ONE! You may not fit your own pictures. Yet this is YOUR WORLD.
Start coming from your experience. You have something to do with everything single that happens, including all the nasty stuff we read about in the papers.
Forgive yourself, forgive others. Let go! Remember… blame comes from unconscious mind.
When you start owning your own world, then you can begin to heal it.
Transformation starts within. Even transformation of the Planet. As Dr. Deepak Chopra likes to remind us, “We are all gods and goddesses in embryo.” Let the Buddha sprout, open up within you. Let the flashes of insight start coming your way.
The world… your world, my world, our world… it’s all within You and waiting for you to show up.
*** Feel free to share your thought and experiences on this subject in the comments area below.