Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism by Steven Heine, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism

Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism

by Steven Heine
     
 

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Koans are dialogues that stand at the center of Zen Buddhist literature and are often used to provoke the "great doubt" in testing a trainee's progress. The Mu Koan consists of a brief conversation in which a monk asks Master Zhaozhou whether or not a dog has Buddha-nature. According to the main version, the reply is "Mu": literally,

Overview

Koans are dialogues that stand at the center of Zen Buddhist literature and are often used to provoke the "great doubt" in testing a trainee's progress. The Mu Koan consists of a brief conversation in which a monk asks Master Zhaozhou whether or not a dog has Buddha-nature. According to the main version, the reply is "Mu": literally, "No," but implying the philosophical notion of nothingness. This case is widely considered to be the single best- known and most widely circulated koan record of the Zen school that offers existential release from anxiety to attain spiritual illumination.

In a careful analysis of the historical and rhetorical basis of the literature, Steven Heine demonstrates that the Mu version of the case, preferred by advocates of the key-phrase approach, does not by any means constitute the final word concerning the meaning and significance of the Mu Koan. He shows that another canonical version, which gives both "Yes" and "No" responses, must be taken into account. Like Cats and Dogs offers critical insight and a new theoretical perspective on "the koan of koans."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is another book dealing with koan literature in the rapid succession of monograph publications by Steven Heine. It is a study on probably the most famous koan in the history of Chan/Zen Buddhism, the so-called " Mu Koan."... Heine traces many versions and commentaries that emerged over time in China and Japan ... the treatment of a wealth of koan and commentary literature constitutes a great value of the publication."—Journal of Chinese Religions

"Steven Heine's latest book on the history of koans, Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Koan in Zen Buddhism, is his second monograph dedicated to a single koan case record....In Like Cats and Dogs Heine again raises relevant questions about predominant assumptions with regard to a koan well known to both practitioners and scholars."—Philosophy East and West

"[Heine]'s done it again - produced a fine piece of scholarship on a really important topic for Zen practice, provides many juicy historical tidbits and context, a fine sampling of original sources (this time including some material from the Korean tradition - often overlooked in Zen studies, it seems to me) some translated here for the first time, and advances a provocative revisionist theory of the history of Zen while also rolling some inspired Dogen study into the mix." —Wild Fox Zen, Patheos

"Despite the popularity of koan stories in Western Buddhist scholarship, the complexity of their formation and the different ramifications in subsequent developments of the tradition in China, Korea, and Japan have been frequently overlooked. In Like Cats and Dogs, Steven Heine fills this gap by engaging philosophical, soteriological, historical, geographical, and many more layers of the koan tradition with a sustained focus on the famous Mu Koan. His writing is clear and reading this is most enjoyable. Readers will be pleasantly surprised by the transformation that this book brings to their understanding of Zen Buddhism and koan practice." —Jin Y. Park, author of Buddhism and Postmodernity: Zen, Huayan, and the Possibility of Buddhist Postmodern Ethics

"Steven Heine's Like Cats and Dogs examines the history of the famous Mu koan...This classic puzzle becomes even more puzzling when the broader textual record is taken into consideration." —Buddhadharma

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199837304
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
11/26/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Steven Heine is an authority on East Asian religion and society, especially the history of Zen Buddhism and its relation to culture in China and Japan. He has published two dozen books.

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