PZI Teacher Archives

Zhaozhou’s Dog (GG1)(BS18)


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?”
“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.


Dharma Theme May 12, 2023

Dharma Theme: Animal Teachers

PZI Teachers

Animals give us the gifts of their living presence, and we feel the profound effect they have on our lives. Animals surprise and enlarge us. We become the animal we are seeing, and that is a primary Zen move. The way we become the world that we are part of, is a profound part of Zen.

17 Words
Text October 8, 2020

13 No – The Zenosaurus Course In Koans

John Tarrant

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.

6233 Words
Audio April 21, 2020

Does a Dog Have Buddha Nature? NO!

David Parks

PZI Zen Online Audio: 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. As recorded April 9 2020.

52' 15"
Text November 15, 2017

Starter Kit for the Koan “No”

John Tarrant

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

281 Words
Video June 26, 2017

Stories of NO

Rachel Boughton

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

24' 34"