Shodo Harada

‘The teachings of Buddhism have tremendous breadth and width. Different teachers have emphasized different textx. Dengyo Dashi, the founder of the Tendai school said that the Lotus Sutra was the best to read. Honen Shonin and Shinran Shonin said the best was the shorter Jodo Sambu Sutra. But everyone is too busy to read all of those long sentences in those long sutras. So they said maybe it’s okay to just repeat one short line. And first it was Nam Myoho Rengo Kyo, from the Lotus Sutra, but then Honen Shonin and Shinran Shonin said even that was too long, and they offered instead Namu Amida Butsu. For Zen even that’s too long. Joshu said that one character, mu, is enough. For Zen it is the truth beyond words and phrases that has to be experienced and realized. And so Joshu said, “Mu.” Ummon said, “Kan,” or “reflect.”‘ (Not One Single Thing)

Now, if you think I am going to transform this blog into simply a daily post of mu, then you are very much mistaken. You would very soon take it for granted and not investigate, even if each day’s mu was a choice of fine calligraphy. As Dogen liked to point out (even as he led you astray with his phrases), we can also – and sometimes must – express what is beyond words and phrases with words and phrases. They are not left out.


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