Zhaozhou’s Dog (GG1) (BS18)

KOAN:

Someone asked Zhaozhou, “Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?”
“Yes,” replied Zhaozhou,
“Then why did it jump into that bag of fur?”
“It knew what it was doing and that’s why it dogged.”

Another time someone asked Zhaozhou, “Does a dog have Buddha nature or not?”
“No.”
“All beings have buddha nature. Why doesn’t a dog have it?”
“Because it’s beginning to awaken in the world of ignorance.”

– Gateless Gate, Case 1 & Book of Serenity, Case 18

Note: The last line of the koan is literally, “It has activity—or karma—consciousness.” This is an Indian system of describing layers of the mind. “Activity consciousness” has the sense that through the agency of ignorance an unenlightened mind begins to be disturbed or awakened.