Yes and no, Yin and Yang, do or don’t – language is structured and limited.
The form of the question often limits the answer so sometimes you need to question the question.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one word that meant, ‘Your question is based on a assumed view of reality so it’s impossible to give a proper answer’?
There is – in Japanese at least – and it is ‘Mu’.
If I knew that in ninth grade, class would have sounded more like a day at the farm.
Actually ‘Mu’ has many meanings. It sometimes means ‘No’, or ‘No thing’,
or ‘Unask the question’.
Here it means ‘No’ in the sense of ‘Your question is inadequate to the situation – Find a better question.’
There is a Zen story of the eighth century Zen Master, Joshu.
A monk pointed to a mangy, scrawny dog and asked him,
‘Does this dog have Buddha nature?’
Something of a trick question, as on one hand everything has Buddha nature, on the other hand to admit it was in the dog would seem to cheapen it.
Joshu replied ‘Mu’.
Both ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would have been wrong.
Everyone likes simple answers, but life is neither simple nor straightforward,
so life tends to give us plenty of ‘Mu answers.
A Mu answer demands a better question.
You have probably heard some version of the Schrodinger’s cat paradox.
The cat is in a closed box with fifty chance of poison gas being released into the box.
You don’t know whether the cat is alive or dead until you open the box – quantum physics claims that the cat is neither alive nor dead until you open the box.
Which is very confusing for the cat, waiting (or not) for someone to open the box.
Is the cat alive? ‘Mu’. (Or should that be ‘Miaow’?)
Is the cat dead? ‘Mu’.
Does the cat have Buddha nature? Mu.
Our knowledge and our happiness and our answers all depend on the quality of our questions.
‘Mu’ reminds us of that.
Let’s always find the best question we can rather than strive for answers.
The Mu newsletter is short – but satisfying.
It ranges over all the coaching topics – Physical, mental and spiritual, always looking for a better question.
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Past blogs and newsletters
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