Mu is a term in Zen that is used to describe "emptiness " or
"nothingness".  This is what a zen practitioner hopes to attain and
realize.  The universe is in a constant flux of change.  Nothing
ever remains unchanged. As long as we continue to desire we will
always be suffering. If one wishes not to suffer, desire must be
cut-off from one’s life.  Physically, all sentient being suffer
with birth, illness, old age, and death.  The whole body-mind
complex is in a state of suffering.  The third salient mark below
suggest that at the core there is a void.  If indeed we are
composed of the five skandhas we will find that within or behind
any of these elements no ego-entity will be found.  The fourth mark
suggest that we are mu.  Since everything depends on other factors
to exist, all is without a core or substantial reality.  The term
mu gives this explanation a name.

I. An individual is composed of five skandhas:
     D.volitional formations

II.The buddha taught that all phenomena are branded with four
salient marks:
     A.impermanence (anitaya)
     B.suffering (duhkha)
     D.emptiness (sunyata)

     Mu is like a circle of light one sees in a dark room.  To our
surprise, we learn that the circle was a reality brought about
because there was a little boy in the room twirling a stick of
burning incense in the dark room.  The circle was merely an
illusion created in the mind, phenomena is just this way. It
depends on certain set of causes and conditions to exist or seem to
exist.  We are no exception to these principles. "form is
emptiness"  What we find at the heart of all things is void.  Our
basic components are the same.  What makes me and you may be the
same but what you are and what I am is composed of different
conditions.  Each of us once again become responsible for our own

     Mu needs to be realized at every moment of our lives.  The
intellect will understand mu but it must be known that mu is
reality. The last step we can take after these realizations is to
realize that things are what they are.  This step is termed the
Middle Way (Jap: Chudo).  It is a complex realization brought about
through deep thought process.  It is described in the chapter as
thus: "truly non-existent but mysteriously existent." The Middle
Way teaches us to avoid extremes.  It brings practicality back into
the life of the practitioner.  The middle Way bring harmony back
into our lives.

       "Before a man studies Zen, a mountain is a mountain
      after he gets insights, a mountain is not a mountain
      When he really understands, a mountain is a mountain"

     Zen teaches that the source of all suffering stem from
desires.  It is interesting to think that Zen even preaches that
suffering can even arise when one even desires nothingness.  Non-
attachment to any of it is the ultimate.  To be attached to
nothingness can lead one to detachment.  Wisdom must encompass
compassion.  Action must be effortless the Tao Te Ching  says it
like this "He does nothing, but there is nothing he does not do."


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August 2005
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