No Water, No Moon
When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time. Finally in a moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free! In commemoration, she wrote a poem: *
In one way or other I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and going to break
So that finally the bottom fell out.
A classical interpretation says that the moon needs the water as mirror, that the water is a metaphor for our mind, and the pail is a metaphor for our ego. But koans do not follow traditional readings. Where is the nun?
A monk asked Jôshû seriously: 'Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?' Jôshû answered: "MU!"*
Some pupils try to solve this koan by by searching for the real meaning of 無 (= mu). But MU means already not or no XYZ. (But it does not mean no as a 1 word sentence.) A good translation would be 'un' as in unexpected or unveiled.
Hence, to solve this koan does not mean to find a better 'truer' meaning of 無. It means to show why 無 is one perfect answer.
What's this? If you say 'This is a stone', then I will say 'This is a concept'. And If you say ' This is not a stone', then you does not apprehend anything. So, what is it?
Is this a koan? If you say 'Yes.', then I will say that identity ever suppresses the non-identical. If you say 'No', then you does not understand Adorno.
Who are you?
Whatever you perceive you are not. What are you?
You can perceive whatever anyone can describe. How can you describe yourself?