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Mu Koan -- Mu in English translations

To: alt.zen
From: Michael Dediu 
Subject: Re: Mu Koan -- Mu in English translations
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997 10:51:14 -0800

Steven A. Lightfoot wrote:
> wrote:
> >Paul S. Hetrick wrote:
> >>  What I'm trying to say is I doubt the 'Mu' koan
> >> can help, or at least be the best help, to make an english speaker go
> >> through the mental process that is is meant to trigger.  This koan may
> >> have been usefull in ancient China, and may be useful in modern China,
> >> but as it is untranslatable why is it harped on so much in english?
> A:
> >I dare say the point of the koan is not "Mu", "Wu" or "No". In fact "No"
> >is sufficient for anyone to engage with the koan. This particular koan
> >concerns the Hua T'ou exercise developed by Zen master Ta-hui. It is to
> >be taken as a mantra of sorts in which the adept is instructed to intuit
> >the ante-word (word-head) of "No" instead of the verbalized "No"
> >(hua-wei = word-tail). This serves to liberate the adept from attaching
> >to various kinds of "images" whether they be mental images of "No" or
> >the sound of "No".
> >I should point out that this exercise is still useful - even more useful
> >than we can imagine with so many people clining to representational
> >thinking nowadays.
> Foot:
> Can you please give an example of *representational thinking* as
> oppossed to *non-representational thinking* ?

All thinking is representational if you think about it.  The spontaneous
thought or action however is non-representational.  Representation is
all in the mind.

I think Ardent makes a good point, in that his interpretation is the one
used in Japan.  Students trying to "get" the koan stay up all night
chanting Mu.  They are told everything they do, see, eat must be Mu.
From Three Pillars of Zen.

Ie. everything conscious is Mu, because Mu is conscious, just like
everything else that is conscious. The objective being consciousness

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