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.

Text October 8, 2020

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Zenosaurus Curriculum 13: The link between the koan and the transformation of your life is real, but since the process isn’t linear you might not notice it at first. The link might seem to be in a black box—invisible.

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Audio April 21, 2020

‘Does a Dog Have Buddha Nature? NO!’ PZI Zen Online Recorded April 9th, 2020

David Parks

Does a Dog Have Buddha Nature? NO! Allowing the things of the world to come close and open the heart to the enormity of what this is.

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Text November 15, 2017

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A monk once asked Master Joshu, “Has a dog the Buddha Nature or not?” Joshu said, “No!”

284 Words
Video June 26, 2017

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Rachel Boughton, Roshi offers a talk on what it’s like to live with the koan “Does a dog have Buddha nature? No.”

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