Talk:Mu (negative)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Comment 1[edit]

I call into question the accuracy of this article... --Furrykef 04:19, 30 May 2004 (UTC)

With reason. I've removed this sentence: It should be noted that the sound, as well as having the meaning described above, could also be the sound a dog makes, 'woof' in English., as Japanese dogs (or, rather, dogs in Japanese) say "wan", not "mu" or "wu" or anything even remotely related. Jpatokal 14:28, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I've seen discussion of this koan in many places, and as far as I have understood, this "dog-sound" comment refers generally to the original Chinese "wu", not Japanese "mu" (which sounds more like a cow, not a dog). Although I'm not familiar with any Chinese dogs, either, so maybe someone better versed in sinokynology could help here. --Oop 20:23, Nov 11, 2004 (UTC)
I have no idea about dogs, but the onomatopoeia for the howl of a wolf in Chinese is generally considered to be wū, which is rather close to wú, though not quite the same (I'm not at a computer with any sort of Chinese language support, so pinyin will have to do.). siafu 23:24, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)
This thread is 3 years old, but I just wanted to comment on this in order to settle any ambiguity. Among the Chinese dialects, it is only the modern Mandarin dialects that has the pronunciation of 無 as wu, which occurred through regular sound change. All the southern dialects retain the m-initial (e.g. Cantonese mou). Chinese negation words all ultimately derive from either m-initial or b-initial words in Old Chinese. The Middle Chinese pronunciation of 無 was mju, which became mvu and then vu in early Mandarin, before becoming the modern wu. On the other hand, the sound that a dog makes never had the m-initial; it was always wu. For this reason, the dog sound etymology of 無 is apocryphal. —Umofomia (talk) 00:09, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Copied text w/o attribution; public domain, but still...[edit]

Last para is a near-identical copy of the Jargon File entry; possibly an identical copy of an older version. The Jargon File is public domain, but ESR does request that quoters cite source and version/date. What's Wikipedia etiquette in situations like this? Mike Capp 12:58, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia recommendation is to always cite your sources. --Minority Report (entropy rim riot) 16:34, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Found exact verbage elsewhere[edit]

Please see definition 2 in: here . Don't know where it was listed originally, but it seems many sources print the same data. -MexIndian

All of this stuff's wrong. "mu" != "moo"; "mu" = "mue" (Could it be mo/moe?); mu != not, no, nothing; mu = nouht, none. Learn some English. -lysdexia 11:35, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't get it[edit]

I don't get how 无 is supposed to be so metaphysical. Isn't 无 much the same as saying 没有 méiyǒu? i.e. "Q) Have dogs got Buddha-nature? A) No they haven't."

It is sort of cool that it has been turned into an answer to loaded questions, even if that doesn't have much to do with its original meaning.  :) — Helpful Dave 18:32, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Mu != No[edit]

In the koan of Joshu, as I've seen it interpreted, his answer of "mu" does not literally mean "no". His mu is closer to the Discordian use of the word. It transcends or nullifies the question. Mumon's commentary on the koan includes a poem that helped me grasp some inkling of meaning:

Has a dog Buddha-nature? This is the most serious question of all. If you say yes or no, You lose your own Buddha-nature.


- Rhiannon314

No actually, Mu can be read as "no". Anyone who has read any Chinese Buddhist text will know that there the only term used to express "no", in the sense of "without" or "have not", is "wu". And You (有) and Wu (無) are exactly the two terms used in this debate. The only other commonly used word to express negation is "fei", meaning "is not". Mu does literally mean "no". How you want to understand/interpret it is another matter. Uly 22:32, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

"Cantonese character"[edit]

I removed the character "冇" from the wiki because it's not equivalent to 無 in Cantonese. They are synonyms, but they have different tones, and are used in different situations in the language.

Introduction is not great[edit]

A couple of comments:

  1. "Some earlier Buddhist thinkers had maintained that creatures such as dogs did have the Buddha-nature; others, that they did not."—This sentence not only interrupts the flow of the explaination. It also IMHO violently misses the point. "Mu" doesn't mean "some say yes, some say no". And it doesn't mean "Both yes and no" either. It means "mu", it means "Nice weather, huh?". I propose we remove this sentence altogether.
  2. "For example, see the accounts of students' struggles with resolving the question of 'Mu' as described in Philip Kapleau's book Three Pillars of Zen."—This is similarly uncalled for. I'll zap it or move it somewhere else, unless somebody can convince me otherwise. Thanks.

PizzaMargherita 18:58, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

WRT point #1, some background is needed to fully appreciate why a yes/no answer is not suitable: previous Zen thinkers had declared that all creatures had the buddha-nature, so to answer no is to deny their wisdom, wheras to say yes would (appear to, at least) blindly follow their teachings. I'll fix this in a second, as soon as I can find a reference for this. --Sam Pointon United FC 20:19, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, I can't find a suitable reference right now (The first external link talks a little about it, though); I say let it stand for now. On point #2, yeah, it is out of place and needless. It ought to go in See Also, if at all. --Sam Pointon United FC 22:55, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
I added your explaination for point 1, waiting for a reference, because leaving as it is it's worse. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 08:00, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
it is more famously used as a response to certain koans. Hard to get more famous than musen. The Heart Sutra is probably much more famous than the koan. The wu/mu character features very prominently in the Heart sutra (which only takes 3-4 minutes to recite). Wu/mu appears more than a dozen times there. No form, no ignorance, no ending of get the picture.
Some earlier Buddhist thinkers had maintained that creatures such as dogs did have the Buddha-nature; others, that they did not. I'm not sure that's true. If it is true, I think such earlier thinkers would have been alive more than 400 years earlier, in the time of Taosheng, before Bodhidharma, before Zen, certainly before Zhaozhou. Cite?
the expression 'wu' in Chinese is similar to the sound the Chinese use to imitate a dog's 'woof' Uhm, maybe in Cantonese? But not in Mandarin, I don't think...I'm not aware of a scholar here on Wikipedia who knows Old Chinese...anyhow, nowadays the Chinese dog bark is usually transliterated "wang wang", e.g. here
an alternate 'explanation' of the utterance has been proposed suggesting that Zhaozhou was imitating a dog. I think it's simply false. Cite? BTW, that's called using the passive voice to conceal the source. In fact, I think the source was a certain Wikipedian's un-named teacher, and the teacher was totally speculating. I am not aware of any other place you can find this dog bark theory except Wikipedia. And here's a cite that contradicts the "imitating a dog" theory anyway: The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu, James Green, 1998, Shambala, section 132 on p53; the dialog between Zhaozhou and the monk continues without reference to animal cries; and on page xxi, Green says this text was "in circulation...certainly by the year 1000", well before the Wumenguan/Mumonkan koan collection became available in the 13th century. Also, consider the version of wu/mu koan found in the Book of Serenity/Book of Equanimity. Barking sounds certainly don't seem to have anything to do with that version. Or so it seems to me.
I will get round to fixing this stuff eventually if someone doesn't get to it first. --Munge 09:34, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
I support this cleanup. Thanks. PizzaMargherita 09:55, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Removed this parenthetical:

(one anecdote relates of Richard Stallman that he once was asked, in regard to the Editor Wars, if he preferred Vi or Emacs; he answered "Yes.")

As a demonstration of how hackers are sensitive to logical inadequacies it's not interesting enough—answering "yes" to what looks like but is not a disjunction is probably not specific to hackers at all. Delighting in its use as a rhetorical device (as opposed to a stale joke) might be, though. JRM · Talk 22:39, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Simplified character[edit]

Is the large image of the simplified character helpful or necessary, really? The text was put down in "traditional" characters, and even in the PRC guwen is often printed using traditional characters. IMHO, the small one in the introduction is plenty, but since it's so big I want to see if there are any objections first. siafu 22:25, 28 June 2006 (UTC)


Cantonese mou5
Min Nan
Japanese mu
Korean mu

This looks really ugly to me, even if I change it to class="wikitable". There are too many empty boxes. Isn't there a template for this? —Keenan Pepper 19:25, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

mu in reference to koan studies[edit]

I have to agree that this article regarding Mu as Chao Chu's answer to "Does a dog have Buddha nature?" is way off the mark. IMHO there should be a separate entry for Mu (Wu) as understood in Zen practice. I'm afraid that the way this is written at the moment it will give quite the wrong impression of the importance of Mu in koan study by Zen practitioners. This is one of the most important koans in Zen and this article does not do it justice. Thinman10 06:56, 16 January 2007 (UTC)thinman10

Since you seem to be at least somewhat knowledgeable about the topic, why not contribute yourself? Be bold! Dforest (talk) 20:44, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Regarding computer analogy[edit]

First off, may i say i have no experience using wikipedia (or indeed anything to do with buddhism) other than to find information so i apologise if i have done anything wrong in my post but just wanted to point this out. The computer analogy doesnt make sense, and it does not correctly refer to how data is stored. The following is presented:

1). A "(+)" voltage pulse,(or a "Yes" response). 2). A -(0)- voltage (a no-voltage response, or a "No-Thing" response. It may also be considered the reference point for the other two possible responses). 3). A "(-)" voltage pulse, (or a "No" response).

This is incorrect. In general, there are thresholds for logic '1' and logic '0'. above a certain threshold voltage, its is 1, below a certain threshold it is 0. Negative voltage is not normally used. Hence my main point is, a zero voltage is logic zero, and so the analogy used for the term 'mu' doesnt apply. (if you turned a computer off, then there would be no power and so every bit would be zero voltage, and so logic '0'). i am referring to RAM, i suppose it would make sense for a hard drive but it is not written as such.

The computer analogy could however be applied in a different way. In a system that say uses 5v as its supply, a logic level of 2v would be undefined (could be either 1 or 0) and so it could be said is in a 'mu' state. Sorry if this is too nit-picky it probably is lol. 00:04, 29 January 2007 (UTC)


First off great article, I've been using the term for a number of years now, and wanted to reference it in a wikipedia discussion, so I went after a link, at the DAB page for "Mu" I almost didn't click on the link because it was labeled "Mu (negative)" and I don't think that it's best used as a negative, if a negative answer was meant, then "no" would be used. "mu" means "unask the question" or "the question cannot be answered because it depends on incorrect assumptions" I'm proposing a move. Mu (unask)? or Mu (response)? or something. I don't know the topic well enough to say anything very well, but whatever. I think I'll at least bring it up for you all to think about. (oh, and I'm watching the page now, so I'll be back :D) McKay 04:36, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Maybe Mu (Zen)? I think most people are expecting it as such a response. I'm not satisfied with the current name either. --Gwern (contribs) 05:52 16 February 2007 (GMT)
Mu Zen sounds pretty good to me. I think it would give people a good idea of the contents of the article if that's what they're searching for. Thinman10
I think it sounds ridiculous. Mu (negation), on the other hand, would accurately describe the meaning: at the end of the day it's just the Japanese way of saying "not X" or "X-less". Jpatokal 05:05, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia isn't meant to be a Japanese translation guide. This article should reflect how the word is being used in english culture, so the Japanese definition is irrelevant. On the other hand, because the word came from the Japanese, Mu (Japanese) does have some merit. McKay 15:10, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps Mu (philosophy) or something along those lines would work. Mu (metaphysics)? Milkfish 11:39, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
McCay, how the word is used in Japanese culture is a relevant piece of knowledge, as are the other culturally idiosyncratic usages -- how English speakers have interpreted it, how French speakers have interpreted it, etc. It seems the larger question is, when does a foreign word qualify for consideration as an Wikipedia entry rather than a mere Wiktionary entry? I think the answer is rather simple: if there's enough to say about the word, let's put it into Wikipedia. Mu certainly meets that standard. Omphaloscope talk 22:54, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree Mu (negative) is a less than ideal name. In my understanding, in Japanese, 不 (fu) is more of a negative per se; 無 (mu) expresses a lack or absence of something. How about Mu (without) or Mu (lack) or Mu (nothingness)? Dforest (talk) 21:11, 29 February 2008 (UTC)
Having studied Japanese for a number of years now, I can tell that a more accurate translation of "Mu" would be "nothingness" rather than "negative". BrainSync talk 12:16, 29 July 2012 (UTC+1)

Exception Handling[edit]

I added a link to exception handling to the "see also" section but it was removed by Jpatokal with the comment "err, no (and I'm a software engineer)". I disagree; I think exception handling is closely related to the answer "mu", but would like consensus.

Consider an array class that throws an exception if you overrun the array (the equivalent of using vector::at(size_t) in C++). That is, if you have a size-two array and access element five, it throws an exception. This seems exactly like the exchange

Q: What is element five of this two-element array?
A: Mu.

Am I mistaken? It seems like throwing an exception makes sense exactly when a function call makes invalid assumptions, just like mu is an appropriate answer to questions that make invalid assumptions. —Ben FrantzDale 12:24, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Hmm, I understand what you're saying, and it's interesting, but the connection is not obvious. Also, not all exceptions being thrown are "mu" responses. what's 2 billion plus 2 billion. If you've got bounds checking an exception will be thrown, but that doesn't mean the answer is Mu. the answer is 4 billion, but the computer can't give that answer. Also, in C++, it's totally "legal" for me to say:
  • int arr[2];
  • arr[5] += arr[0];
because the array indexing operation is just a dereferenced pointer. The answer is not clearly Mu. So, I see where you're coming from, but it's a large leap. Is it WP:Attrubutable? McKay 16:48, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, it smacks of original research to me. If you can find a source for somebody saying exceptions are mu, then fine, but I think the Pirsig quote already more or less makes this point and is notable. Jpatokal 17:12, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
As for the 2e9+2e9 example, one could consider mu to be the correct response to "What 32-bit signed integer is twice two billion?", since the question is not sensible. (OTOH, one could say that 32-bit addition says the answer is -294967296, so that's the answer; it depends how you want to be pedantic.)
At least in C++, exceptions only happen when someone wrote them in; e.g., *NULL does not throw a C++ exception even though it might. In another language, the arr[5] += arr[0] example would throw an exception. Just because C++ doesn't throw an exception doesn't mean it's not logically an exception.
I'll concede that this claim should have some citation, but I see the "See also" section as a place for related ideas, which this clearly is. —Ben FrantzDale 15:51, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Sure, I see where you're coming from, "mu" could be considered a correct answer to some of these questions, but the fact of the matter is, is that it doesn't make it into the article unless it's WP:Attributable. McKay 18:02, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

McKay is right: this is fanciful, at best. You can draw connections between any number of concepts of nothingness in religion, philosophy, science and mathematics; there is nothing particularly pertinent or notable between exception handling and Zen mu. —Piet Delport 03:06, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

Removed paragraph needing citation.[edit]

This wants a citation:

This answer has also been interpreted in a humoristic way, as "WuuUU." In other words, the disciple laughs, and this also shows the wisdom of the ideal teacher.

It seems whimsical enough that it might unfortunately be false, so I've moved it here in the hopes that a knowledgeable individual will corroborate its truth. Omphaloscope talk 22:50, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Chinese Words and Phrases?[edit]

"Category: Chinese Words and Phrases" uses the Japanese pronunciation. I tried to add "wu" as the Chinese pronunciation on but don't see how to do it. Could anyone help? ch (talk) 18:29, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

Discordian Mu[edit]

Would it not be better to cite/include the original Discordian parable instead of/in additon to the Jargon File's take on it?

Original is here: (talk) 12:27, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

typically famous[edit]

In the lead one use is typically, the other use is 'more famously', how can you have more famous than typical usage? One use should be say 'grammatically used' the other say 'commonly used as' perhaps ? LeeVJ (talk) 21:23, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

It's typically used in Japanese and Chinese as negation, but English only recognizes the Zen-style use. I've clarified this. Jpatokal (talk) 02:40, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
Thnaks, that makes sense now! Just one more thing - is it still used in Japaneze and Chinese, as current wording implies it has been superceded? LeeVJ (talk) 04:15, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it is still used. Tweaked again. Jpatokal (talk) 09:22, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
 :) LeeVJ (talk) 03:32, 5 February 2009 (UTC)


Could someone provide pronunciation at the very beginning for English speakers? Moo or Mew? (Plain-English pronunciation, please, not IPA, which, statistically speaking, nobody understands and nobody uses. Thanks - Tempshill (talk) 21:04, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Moo, clipped short. Jpatokal (talk) 01:59, 12 June 2009 (UTC)
But that's only in Japan, which is 120 million of 1.6 Billion which use the Chinese character script. Otherwise, it can read "Wu" in Standard Mandarin or "Mou" in Standard Cantonese. -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email 09:08, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
However, the word entered English through Japanese (as also did the word "Zen"). AnonMoos (talk) 13:51, 16 August 2009 (UTC)


I'm removing the following entries from the "cultural references" section:

  • The film director Yasujirō Ozu has the character written on his gravestone. [1]
  • In the twelfth and final volume of the manga Death Note, one of the rules states that "all humans will, without exception, eventually die" and another that "after they die, the place they go is MU (Nothingness)."
  • The concept of mu is a recurring theme in manga by Kazuo Koike, notably Samurai Executioner and the later Lone Wolf and Cub. The protagonists, Yamada Asaemon and Ogami Itto respectively, will both occasionally shout "Mu!" when making a particularly difficult sword cut.

Because there is no other information included to make them notable. Why does it appear on Yasujiro Ozu's grave? What made the concept so important to him that it bears mentioning here? If it bears mentioning, there should be a section dedicated to the concept in his work (or at least a mention of it in the thematic section of his article), and then the link here should point to that. The same applies to the Philip K Dick novel. A simple mentioning won't do, and even then it should be fairly notable as to why it's important.

Neither of the anime references are particularly notable, and do not belong here.
Walkeraj 16:19, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

"Citation Needed" gone overboard[edit]

There are far too many "citations needed". For instance, the quote from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" has a "citation needed"! You don't need to source claims that a verifiable document contains a statement. Even if you did, it would be worthless: you'd end up adding a claim that (e.g.) "Essays on ZatAoMM" states that ZatAoMM states that ... - which is not an improvement at all.

Please double-check when citation is needed, before adding such remarks. (talk) 10:22, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:Verifiability#Burden of evidence: "All quotations ... must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation. The source should be cited clearly and precisely, with page numbers where appropriate, and must clearly support the material as presented in the article." —Finell 17:53, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but a {{fact}} for a quotation sourced to a specific and widely-available book (both online and off) is just lacking in common-sense. --Gwern (contribs) 21:54 1 December 2009 (GMT)
No, Wikipedia's guideline is not "lacking in common-sense". First, a specific page number is required in a citation for a quotation to facilitate verification; a reader or another editor should not have to skim an entire book, or play guessing games with the index, to find the quotation in the original source. Second, for the same reason, citation to a specific edition is required (this is true of all source citations.—Finell 12:12, 31 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes/No questions[edit]

Is Mu meant to answer only to yes/no questions? I take it that eg. a woman or kid can answer the question "When did you last shave your beard?" with "Mu" (women and kids don't shave). But if "mu" is used only for yes/no questions, the usage would be wrong (talk) 12:32, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

No, I believe, in my opinion, that Mu is not meant to answer yes/no questions. Also, the appropriate response in Chinese to the question "When did you last shave your beard?" would be an answer stating the time that the individual last shaved or "mei" (未 - not yet; source: Alph168 (talk) 02:24, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Mu = Does not have[edit]

This is a kind of funny topic, but I can't really write about it on the main page because it would be original research. I don't have access to my copy of Joshu's text right now either.

If you read classical Chinese, there is nothing mysterious whatsoever in the original koan. Joshu is asked whether a dog has Buddha nature. He replies "Wu" which means "it doesn't have it". That's it, case closed. The koan (the original, not the Gateless Gate version) then has two more lines, where the monk asks what the dogs nature is, and Joshu replies something like "it has the nature of demons and devils".

There is another koan in the original text where Joshu is asked the same question, and he replies that a dog does have Buddha nature. Joshu is all about screwing with language. He has many, many koans where the point (in my opinion) is that meaning is always relative.

People mostly know about this through The Gateless Gate, which gives one interpretation, Rinzai koan practice, and then American books like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Godel, Escher, Bach. This has led to some extremely strange ideas of what "Mu" means.

What it literally means is a negative that indicates something is not present: in this case, Buddha nature. It has no other literal interpretation in that context. Everything else is the opinions of various interpreters.

--Mujokan (talk) 14:08, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

I cut out this phrase, which is pure opinion: "Therefore, to answer "no" is to deny their wisdom, whereas to say "yes" is to blindly follow their teachings." It is impossible to be so categorical here.

I also put in a reference to the fact that the literal answer Joshu gives is that the dog does not have Buddha nature. This can easily be checked in any Chinese dictionary. Many non-literal interpretations are possible, of course, but that is the literal meaning.

--Mujokan (talk) 14:17, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

I have to say, having studied classical Chinese in days past, that you are entirely correct. As usual, the latter-day religious movement (chan, or Zen), has made a lot more out of this than was originally there. Of course, since the original anecdote is just a story which borrows upon the reputation of the speakers for its weight, the ancient Zen scholars were quite welcome to make up their own just as well. siafu (talk) 16:44, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. The thing is, one shouldn't just say "Joshu said dogs don't have Buddha nature, and that's the end of it -- they don't have Buddha nature." Literally, he said dogs don't have Buddha nature. But in my opinion, what he's trying to do is teach the questioner something about language. It's just that you have to understand that the first step in that path was that he really did say that dogs don't have Buddha nature. That's where you start from. The problem is that modern American commentators skip a few steps. And they say that "Wu" in Chinese "means" something that no Chinese speaker would recognize it as meaning, because that makes it easier for them.
Anyway, the point here is to separate literal meaning from all these interpretations.
--Mujokan (talk) 20:20, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
To say that "Wu" means "without" in modern Chinese is also a bit off; it has the same meaning as "mei2" in modern Chinese, but represents an archaic usage employed some two thousand plus years ago. siafu (talk) 20:37, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
From "Colloquial Chinese": "Its meaning is best described as "without" or "not having". An online dictionary gives "-less; not to have; no; none; not; to lack; un-". Grammatically it's not the same as Mei because Mei is used more for verbs. It is still used in Chinese, though it has a literary feel. It's still very common in Japanese with this same meaning (as per my user name). (Very sorry I accidentally deleted your comment somehow while trying to reply!) --Mujokan (talk) 17:15, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
Isn't an additional edge to the answer that, when spoken, it resembles a dog's barking? Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 21:06, 29 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't think "wu2" sounds much like a bark, though it resembles the Chinese onomatopoeia for a wolf's howl. siafu (talk) 21:13, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Mu and emptiness[edit]

One of significant teachings in Zen Buddhism is that of emptiness, which is also called mu.

As I see (or feel) the koan, its point is to say: "All is emptiness (mu). However, it's utterly useless to talk about it. You only can understand the answer if you cease using words and labels, and instead experience the emptiness (mu) yourself."

In Zen context, you can replace mu with concept of emptiness as it is undertood in Zen. Trying to fit it into boolean or kleenean logic misses the point.

See eg.,_or_Mu (talk) 12:12, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

That page is based on a misunderstanding. Emptiness is kuu 空, not mu --Mujokan (talk) 18:41, 20 February 2012 (UTC)


Moved Mu (negative) to Mu (no thing) and Talk:Mu (negative) to Talk:Mu (no thing). Moved to a neutral title, given that the English phrase "no thing" translates best the most understood meaning of the word Mu 無 in use alone, both in English and in Japanese. Get used to the idea folks that words have more than one meaning, and more than one usage! (in practice) If you don't like the recognition here of the very common words having much more than a mundane meaning, as well as the very common usage of the mundane meaning in combination words of not~ eg. 無分別, then you're free to create a new page, add it to the MU disambiguation page as Mu (not) or similar, and thereby *not* lazily comment here in talk on your personal partiality(s) of the word. Please! If you're gonna work on it, learn Japanese word mui 無為, Chinese Wú wéi, as another clarification, of multiple usages and meanings of mu 無。--Jase 06:49, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Please do not move pages without soliticing some feedback first, especially those like this that have already been moved around a fair bit.
So. "Mu (negative)" is an accurate and simple way of disambiguating the word for various other Mus. It's also uncontroversial, whereas assertions that mu means anything deeper than "not" or "non-" are necessarily points of view. Jpatokal (talk) 10:42, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Also, your claims about the commonness of the word's uses in Japanese are somewhat misguided. There is no word 'mu' in Japanese, it's the onyomi reading of the Chinese character. When used as a word, it's 無い nai and means basically "not". Daijisen lists 8 meanings, none of which are remotely philosophical:
1 物事が存在しない。 Does not exist
2 持っていない。Does not have
3 時間・数量などが、その表示された数に達していない。Insufficient time or quantity
4 気持ちをもたない。心がはっきりしていない。Unclear feeling
5 経験していない。Has not experienced
6 同じ物が二つと存在しない。類がない。A second thing of this type does not exist
7 (亡い)すでに死んで、この世にいない。Died, no longer exists
8 留守である。不在である。Absent, does not exist.
And pretty much the same result at Daijirin. Jpatokal (talk) 10:57, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Not true, you evidently haven't done your homework, nor even read, evidently, the major first reference i provided. Previous talk earlier in this page was also characteristically poorly informed people who thought they were better informed than everyone else, they're not at all -a saying for articulateness: "a little bit of knowledge makes a dangerous thing". Reading this talk page does not constitute a gaining of verifiable knowledge. You seem bias. I did the work, you do some. Your absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence. Don't argue, with what evidently you don't know. How could you say this, you seem unlikely to substantially speak or read or have Japanese experience, which i do. What arrogance to call mine "dubious claims", out of your evident ignorance of this article's subject. Would you try to impose on me that i wasn't, for but one example of many, in a Japanese bookshop (in a small suburb in Aichi ken, outside from Nagoya, Japan) in 2000 reading a children's book with pages about no-thing-ness Mu written to teach young children, just the same way Christian westerners teach their children about Christian religion incl. Jesus. In Japan Mu (in the sense of spiritual nothingness) is nearly a 'household' word. Nearly every family has ancestral Buddhist traditions, and Mu is also learnt as part of ordinary upbringing conditioning of most children. Perhaps in the last ten years less so with further 'westernisation' of newer generations -but that would need evidence! Discuss it without bias or ignorance, cite evidence not your own bias, not informed, personal point of view. Searching internet dictionaries, which only include mundane word results, in the context of not reading my major first reference don't constitute evidence, just your absence of evidence. And you're wrong on onyomi - the word onyomi is a Japanese word, cf. kunyomi, that's just the start of your wrong misunderstanding. This seems relevant to your seeming bias: 'You don't have to *believe* in spirituality in order to be honest and respecting of spirituality in different people.' I will revert your edits, and return this article to the place where this article is neutral, and where it informs the reader, rather than your evident obscurant-ing. PS. some minority of my native-Japanese friends do not admit to understanding, or perhaps do not themselves have an understanding, of non-mundane meanings of the many words in Japanese which have multiple meanings with both mundane and non-mundane -more-than-mundane meanings--Jase 11:33, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Furthermore now, mu is multiple words in J-E dictionaries, as the romaji reading of 無 (read as む in hiragana ie. mu again!).

むい (mui) may be any of: 無為, 無位, 無医, 無意, 無畏 ... -and some more kanji for readings of むい (mui).

Why didn't you take my advice above about 無為? Ignored it.

Why didn't you read my major first reference, dictionary?

Most importantly this article is about 無 (mu - read as む in hiragana), not any reading you like to choose of 無 (eg. む (mu) or な (na)) together with い (i).

This article is not at all about 無い (read as ない = nai)。(which translates to simple meaning no in English, the most basic Japanese of all, together with English simple yes which in Japanese is はい (hai) ). Don't tell me i'm wrong when you acted wrongly. --Jase 12:53, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Your references is about uses of the word in English, but I'm talking about its meaning in Japanese here. (I suspect you do not actually speak the language?) 無い is read exclusively as nai. Now, there are three words with the reading mui, all of which are Chinese character compounds:
無為 【むい】 (adj-na,n,adj-no) idleness; inactivity; (P) [Ex][L][G][GI][S][A][JW]
無位 【むい】 (n) lacking rank; ordinary (citizen) [L][G][GI][S][A]
無意 【むい】 (n) unintentional [L][G][GI][S][A][JW]
The above courtesy of WWWJDIC, which also has the following definitions for mu:
無; 不 【ぶ】 (pref) (1) un-; non-; (2) bad ...; poor ...
無; 无 【む】 (n) (1) nothing; naught; nought; nil; zero; (pref) (2) un-; non-
Note, once again, the absence of anything "non-mundane". Jpatokal (talk) 22:16, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Hello! world!, especially Japanese world! You above i don't know what is wrong with your awareness? Very naive are you, i don't know?

Wrong, and wrong again, ... You're evidently ignoring and only writing about your lack of knowledge of 無 (read as む (mu) ) having multiple Japanese meanings, your bad - and your disrespectful perverse ignoring of me, of my writing here in Talk:Mu_(negative), in Mu_(negative) & of all the Japanese writings on this more-than-mundane-meanings of 無 (read as む (mu) ) obvious subject. ... So i'll talk with you-above only on your level only for hopes that you'll open your mind, or at least your eyes, to read what i've written here in Talk:Mu_(negative) & in Mu_(negative).

Your absence of evidence does not make evidence of absence. (Preserving my humility and keeping quiet about my Japanese skills and non-mundane understandings... !)

WWWJDIC has multiple dictionaries, of J-E more than fourteen dictionaries today, and always has had multiple dictionaries since i've been using it more than ten years.

WWWJDIC has particularly one of its dictionaries having the acronym "DDB" (abbreviated title).

WWWJDIC has "EDICT" (abbreviated title) which is the only one dictionary you used for quotes above, and is used for translation "of the word[s] in [to] English".

Also there's the indispensable "ENAMDICT" (abbreviated title) dictionary... people's names ...names of people can't get translated by WWWJDIC without it, or alternatively without the inclusive-of-ENAMDICT-&-EDICT "Special Text-glossing" dictionary. I could contact WWWJDIC creator Jim Breen at Monash but that would totally waste his time on a stupid Q which is obvious if you just use the full set of dictionaries... .

Don't waste everyones time.

Spoon-feeding you (any more than this) must not go on.

When you have reached awareness of what Jim Breen's WWWJDIC-acronym "DDB" (abbreviated title) abbreviates, then, only then, let us know. You disappoint.--Jase 00:35, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Please remain WP:CIVIL. Here's the part added by you to the article that I disagree with, emphases mine:
Commonly in Japanese religious & intellectual (non-mundane) language usage[citation needed], including in Buddhism, in children's philosophy books & more[citation needed], and in English widely if not commonly[citation needed], its usage is better known as a response to certain koans and other questions in Zen Buddhism, intending to indicate that the question itself was meaningless.
So, you are asserting that in Japanese outside religious contexts, "mu" is used to indicate "the question itself is meaningless". EDICT is the main file of the WWWJDIC project, containing 150,000 entries; it does not have such a meaning listed. Daijirin and Daijisen, two of the most comprehensive Japanese dictionaries available, do not list such a meaning. The onus is thus on you to indicate that such a meaning does exist. Jpatokal (talk) 02:51, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

You get WP:CIVIL. You have been misconstruing my words. You have been ignoring my words. You have un-diplomatically, without evidence written perverse words of abuse of me, above. Take note, ie. WP:CIVIL. Take advice. Check & appreciate evidence, not you brutally-ignoring your own absence of evidence.--Jase 03:17, 23 September 2010 (UTC) -> -take note!.--Jase 03:27, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Your words have no point nor points. Your words don't know what words they're talking about, and now in the latest talk above have started backtracking and dissembling. You're wrong words, 'your bad', accept it, and move your own good. WP:V does not and is not allowed to come from only within wikipedia's internal information, of course. You have ignored a world of evidence, outside Wikipedia and conveniently chosen mundane-only-dictionary results to deliberately bias your words here above. My experience in Japan, with Japanese people does not need proving to you at all; for one tiny-minority-instance in Japan by personal-loving-family-teachers, i was taught eleven years ago that in regards to printed dictionaries, at least the best quality dictionaries include various printed Shogakukan Inc. brand of dictionaries, not mere & possibly-poor-quantity-of-words type of Japanese dictionaries, but real quality scholarship in them; I have several dictionary books from them, from Japan. I don't even need to use those nowadays, as I have numerous Japanese dictionaries on my computers and access the best quality dictionaries online. My computer's built-in inadequate & humble dictionary even has the Japanese kanji 無 (per se, read as む (mu)), as several words' meanings in it, and it is far from the best dictionary i have. It comes from Shogakukan Inc. also, and it is not the best dictionary from Shogakukan Inc. i have, far from it. A raw quote, which i'm not going to spoon feed you any explanations on at all, from the seriously inadequate, but appearing to be better quality Shogakukan Inc. computer dictionary, than your it-appears-poor-use of Daijirin & Daijisen:


1 何もないこと。存在しないこと。「—から有を生ずる」↔有。
2 哲学の用語。
㋐ 存在の否定•欠如。特定の存在がないこと。また、存在そのものがないこと。
㋑ 一切の有無の対立を超え、それらの存立の基盤となる絶対的な無。
3 禅宗で、経験•知識を得る以前の純粋な意識。「—の境地」


Japanese teachers typically wont tell you about non-mundane meanings of words until you demonstrate that you're mentally ready, this includes many ways of mind-readiness, including genuine civility - no personal attacks - assume good faith - neutral point of view and real respect for people. You're told here that 無 (per se, read as む (mu)) ≠ 無 (per se, read as な (na) ie. as used in 無い (ない)). Ask some advanced-in-education Japanese people about 無 (per se, read as む (mu)). Don't brutally-towards-humble-me pretend Daijirin and Daijisen as definitive, especially in the way you've used them here above. Below, a literary philosophy et. al. book quote, i deliberately leave un-referenced. A Japanese book amongst many. If you're more than an internet-Japanese speaker-writer, more than a machine-translation speaker-writer, more than a pocket-computer-translator speaker-writer & more than a conversationalist-mundane Japanese writer-speaker or reader, at all; Then correctly translate this, below. Numbers of my young native Japanese friends can't or don't want the hard work to translate it to English, more because of the lack of appropriate idiom words in English. So what chance have you got of doing so, and it's from a famous Japanese philosopher-writer-..., his summary book (総括編) of his many previous famous around the world book, writing-works. I own it, amongst much more. I have a go at translating it sometimes, but it is very much more-than-mundane word usages, as well known & famous a work in its English translations and in Japanese. He's published more than twelve Japanese books and much more, been translated into apparently 25 languages, i know of more than 10 languages; Travelled the world doing his works; Won awards, etc. etc. Young native Japanese friends say it's 難しい (difficult). You acted like you're so smart here above - put it up!


「無」 の哲学と自然農法。(267)
  「無為天成」(前出『<自然> を生きる』)-「天の理法に従えば、無為にして天成と悟り」 (「人ひかりあり 自然農法に生きる」『同朋』1994年5月号)。「天の理法」とは「天然自然の理法」「天道」(『日本は何処へ (自然農法による社会革命論)』 福岡正信) ということのようだ。
この哲学的な一瞬の閃きによる知 (あるいは論理) の飛躍 (インスピレ一ション、悟り的境地、精神分析学でいう 「洞察」) には、 われわれ凡人には容易に計りがたいものがある。
が、 おそれず、 自然農法の根底にある無の哲学と自然農法の世界に分け入ってみよう。


You won't find much of it in your mundane-day-to-day-world internet dictionary search interface results! Therefore you will learn something real doing it, not just glib internet searches above. Translation might even prove useful herein and for all, rather than your 'unreally' offender's act here. Get real.--Jase 05:18, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

You also didn't search your Daijisen-dictionary favoured-interface properly, as well as everything else, wasting our time with your wrong research!

We shouldn't have to do it for you.

Your favoured dictionary search interface (which actually makes searching not very user friendly compared to mine) has it, here: "無" (per se, read as "む" (mu)) at Yahoo! Daijisen interface. Amateurish! evidently.

That Yahoo! Daijisen page reads out the Japanese which this very Wikipedia article's subject consists of, with multiple meanings - the 無 (per se, read as む (mu)). I don't waste everyone's time with evidently-pathetically-amateurish attempts to search, Yahoo!'s not-user-friendly interfaces to Daijisen.

Even my computer's inadequate & not-my-best dictionary makes finding so much easier than that, Yahoo!'s not-user-friendly interfaces to Daijisen. Daijirin made redundant in this talk, too. There's lots more meaning in this my talk here, for you to learn for yourself, i'm not going spoon feed any more to you. Not explain any more to you about this talk; And not going to spell any more out to you about Japanese. Don't waste our precious moments. Do your homework before talking here, and do your homework properly!

As per Wikipedia policy it is not a discussion forum, nor a Japanese language learning exercise for you at the expense of me, nor for your personal preferred indulgences.

-Wasting so much of our time with your lack of knowledge, even also of searching an internet dictionary properly, when you claim to be smarter than me on the subject, and gratuitously abused me, and, let alone the evidence in your words here of your (evident) lack of knowledge of culturally-rich spoken-Japanese or of proper literary written Japanese. Your offender acting annoyed me, do you feel happy that you did that.--Jase 06:14, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

OK Phoenix7777 thank you for a 'constructive' contribution, phew. I'm OK with your proposal, or with "Mu (no thing)", but Mu (negative) completely loses Wikipedia neutrality -the policy, (with, in-my-mind the meaning of 無 (read as "む" (mu))).--Jase 10:38, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Not a bad suggestion! Jpatokal (talk) 22:20, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Good work digging up the Daijisen entry on 無. Now, where does it say anything about "the question itself being meaningless"? Jpatokal (talk) 22:20, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
Above you wrote, quote: "
"Mu (negative)" is an accurate and simple way of disambiguating the word for various other Mus. It's also uncontroversial, whereas assertions that mu means anything deeper than "not" or "non-" are necessarily points of view. Jpatokal (talk) 10:42, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Also, your claims about the commonness of the word's uses in Japanese are somewhat misguided. There is no word 'mu' in Japanese, it's the onyomi reading of the Chinese character. When used as a word, it's 無い nai and means basically "not". Daijisen lists 8 meanings, none of which are remotely philosophical
And pretty much the same result at Daijirin. Jpatokal (talk) 10:57, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
" -both of these writings above cannot at once be true - the quote above together with the Jpatokal 22:20, 23 September 2010 (UTC) above it cannot both be true. Ludicrous!
Jpatokal, quote again: " There is no word 'mu' in Japanese, it's the onyomi reading of the Chinese character." Ludicrous! Are onyomi readings of Chinese characters not Japanese words. Ludicrous! Kanji, the Japanese word for Chinese Hànzì, both refer to what we in English call Chinese characters. In Japanese they're used and called themselves Kanji. In Chinese they're used and called themselves Hànzì. Jpatokal, quote again: "When used as a word, it's 無い nai and means basically "not". " Ludicrous!
Hence, ludicrous again also is, quote Jpatokal: "Also, your claims about the commonness of the word's uses in Japanese are somewhat misguided."
Jpatokal dissembles with, quote: "Good work digging up the Daijisen entry", written after Jpatokal wrote, quote: "Daijisen lists 8 meanings, none of which are remotely philosophical" and wrote, quote: "And pretty much the same result at Daijirin.".
Both cannot be true, of any of these sentences with Jpatokal's dissembling sentence, quote "Good work digging up the Daijisen entry". Ludicrous ignorance Jpatokal and Jpatokal not even the modesty to admit to clanging complete error.--Jase 14:58, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Apologise sincerely (User:Jpatokal);

You were wrong and still so.

I didn't advance anything or do any "good work digging", obvious evidence is you did very bad work, abused me on top of bad work, and so wasted our time. The "onus of proof" you got wrong.--Jase 23:12, 23 September 2010 (UTC).

(User:Jpatokal) Don't move constructive talk on my Moved section out of my Moved section, hence renamed my section to Moving. and don't try to fake the order of talk here by moving your talk before mine perverting the signatures timestamps. You're wrong, admit it. Cease and desist vexing.--Jase 23:36, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

The article still says:
Commonly in Japanese religious & intellectual (non-mundane) language usage[citation needed], including in Buddhism, in children's philosophy books & more[citation needed], and in English widely if not commonly[citation needed], its usage is better known as a response to certain koans and other questions in Zen Buddhism, intending to indicate that the question itself was meaningless.
So, which of the Japanese sources you have found says anything about "the question itself being meaningless"? Jpatokal (talk) 06:34, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Apologise sincerely (User:Jpatokal);

You were wrong and still so.

I didn't advance anything or do any "good work digging", obvious evidence is you did very bad work, abused me on top of bad work, and so wasted our time. The "onus of proof" you got wrong.--Jase 23:12, 23 September 2010 (UTC).

(User:Jpatokal) Don't move constructive talk on my now Moving section out of my now Moving section, hence renamed my section to Moving. and don't try to fake the order of talk here by moving your talk before mine perverting the signatures timestamps. You're wrong, admit it. Cease and desist vexatiousness. Cease dissembling. etcetera.

Futhermore i'm under no obligation to you. Do some work on this article's subject. In this context you have recently cited no sources of evidence for anything at all, only your above absence of evidence paraded as if you know everthing, and now without evident remorse, and now backsliding & dissembling, and now deflecting in that most recent talk above. You have recently added no sources to the article, so have no place asking me to do more work on the article when you diverted and wasted, so much of our time. Do some work yourself, add sources, rather than removing work, rather than discouraging work, and rather than perversely-blame-deflecting. This article can be much improved when your obscuring information ceases, you admit openly, and apologise. Regarding previous assertions by you: You provide the evidence that there's no multiple meanings; that there's no usage in common in Japan; that your evident-above reality-denial-talk is in fact reality it self; etcetera; Or admit wrong here on all these assertions above, and then do some real work on this article's subject. On this article's subject your stand point above is now proven ignorance, not any evidence, and you've lost credibility on this article's subject. Your tedious citation requests constitute deflections constituting double standards, from your ignoring obvious observational evidence eg. ignoring dictionary evidence, ignoring the major first reference i did provide, and from you having recently added no encyclopaedic information or sources to this article's subject, rather you have been obscuring information here - Wikipedia:Avoid_weasel_words. In-denial tedium discouraging here. ... . --Jase 10:36, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

In other words, you have no sources to back up your assertion, and I trust you will thus not object to me deleting the sentence. Jpatokal (talk) 10:58, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Perversely wrong... .--Jase 12:04, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
So please provide a source that shows you're right. Also, reverting edits wholesale is rather bad form, or did you also mean to object to eg. reformatting the quote? Jpatokal (talk) 12:10, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Deliberately conflated bad edits with one token-good edit, didn't you. ... . So wrong, and you know it from evidence in your words above. And now you said "yay" in the article edit history, "yay" for a "war" in evident-ignorance , because you created this. Stop power trippin'. Is war-ing here the way you have motivated yourself. Truth, doesn't that mean any to you. --Jase 12:19, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

User:Jpatokal has herein today proved an example, and an unsubtle example, of the scholarly, nuanced descriptions of significantly bad experiences with Wikipedia by a renowned Buddhist scholar, described herein: -> Please read therein.--Jase 12:47, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

User:Jpatokal truth, neutrality and policy obliges you to understand the subject matter, before you come here to the article writing about the subject matter. Evidenced in your writing above, you clearly do not, and asserted invented understandings as you go along, with a lack evidence. Do not randomly quote internet sources based on searching for the keyword in them without understanding their meaning. Evidenced above, you haven't been able to even search properly for the keyword "無" (per se, read as "む" (mu)) in an internet Japanese dictionary.--Jase 14:58, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

My suggestion is to move to Mu (Zen concept) or Mu (Buddhist term) or something like that. Oda Mari (talk) 17:59, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Thank you User:Oda Mari for your 'constructive' suggestion in good-faith ( reminding of assume good faith ). --Jase 23:55, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

Inside this Wikipedia article itself's ref no. 1 User:Jpatokal has quoted text, from his choice of reference book, as follows in the full ref quote:

" <ref name="baroni">Baroni, Helen Josephine. ''[ The illustrated encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism]'', p.228. ''The word mu (Ch. wu) is a negation that can be translated as "no", "not", "nothing", or "without". ... Japanese Rinzai has classified the Mu Koan as a hosshin koan, that is, a koan appropriate for beginners seeking kensho, the initial enlightenment experience.''</ref> "

to give an unbalanced appearance towards certain viewpoints, when the reference book itself does, on Mu Kôan [sic], read in full, quote:


Mu Kôan
One of the most famous traditional Zen kôan , and the one Rinzai masters most often give to beginners as a focus for meditation. The so-called "Mu kôan" appears as the first case in the Mumonkan. A student once asked Zen Master Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen (778-897; J. Jôshû) if a dog has the Buddha Nature. Chao-chou answered, "mu." The word mu (Ch. wu) is a negation that can be translated as "no", "not", "nothing", or "without". It is also used to express emptiness, the Buddhist characterization for ultimate reality. Since the time of Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768), Japanese Rinzai has classified the Mu kôan as a hosshin kôan , that is, a kôan appropriate for beginners seeking kenshô , the initial enlightenment experience. The Mu kôan is also known as Jôshû's Dog

" (btw re: above books writing, the correct transliteration in romaji for the words is kōan (公案 (こうあん)), Jōshū (趙州 (ちょうしゅう)) and kenshō (?見性? (けんしょう)), it should not be a ô and û - see two of those with linked kanji Japanese Wikipedia pages.)

I believe the kanji you're looking for is 顕正. Jpatokal (talk) 08:53, 25 September 2010 (UTC)
Jim Breen's WWWJDIC quotes: (and BTW no i'm not interested in professionally helping you learn Japanese; Just in case you would have asked?????):

見性 【けんしょう】 to see the (buddha-)nature

見性悟道 【けんしょうごどう】 seeing one's true nature and awakening to the Way

見性公案 【けんしょうこうあん】 gong-an (kōan) of seeing the true nature

--Jase 10:35, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Say, you appear to be correct! Although you're quoting DDB, not EDICT. Jpatokal (talk) 13:24, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Also, I wonder how that illustrated Zen encyclopedia's authors would respond to User:Jpatokal's randomly accessing it via Google keyword search and then using it in an evident hack of their text, in quoting their work in this misrepresentative apparently vain attempt to cover up his clanging errors evident here, above? Zen requires whole-thinking, how is it that someone can use misrepresentative-not-whole-quotes, appaently for vain purposes. Does someone have to have reached a level of enlightenment about this article's subject of "Mu"-無 (per se, read as "む" (mu)) before having competance to write about it??? I suspect, btw, the answer to that question is "無" too! (per se, read as "む" (mu)) Quoting again for balance here the sentence User:Jpatokal censored from his ref quote: "It is also used to express emptiness, the Buddhist characterization for ultimate reality." --Jase 07:31, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

The quotes are included in a reference so you can easily verify that the source says what the article says it does. You're welcome to add more of it into the article. Jpatokal (talk) 08:53, 25 September 2010 (UTC)
denial--Jase 10:06, 25 September 2010 (UTC)
? Jpatokal (talk) 13:24, 25 September 2010 (UTC)
denial-denial--Jase 00:45, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Keeping quiet not wasting. More different people please?--Jase 00:45, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

"Commonly...was meaningless."[edit]

For me, the main problem with this paragraph is that it seems to contain a lot of original research. The words "Commonly" and the phrase "widely if not commonly" really do, without citation, make the information presented sound unverifiabile. Further, regardless of the dictionary meaning of "mu", any unsupported comment about what Joshu's response meant (including that "the question itself was meaningless") is POV until it is clearly demonstrated that beyond the article's text such a meaning is generally agreed-upon. The meaning of Joshu's response is important enough to the article to be supported by citation (if Joshu's meaning needs to be defined at all!). I think the whole paragraph should stay archived here until someone can come up with some numbers about scholarly "mu" usage (lexical analysis beyond the dictionary, beyond "everyone in Japan says it") and some scholarly conjecture re: Joshu's meaning (conjecture beyond the vague "it's a household word and in children's books, too!"). DaAnHo (talk) 06:18, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

OK - BTW i did not write "the question itself was meaningless" for the record. I just re-arranged that sentence with it in. And added those words like "Commonly" and about its wide understanding in Japan and as a "nearly 'household'" idiom and so on to the start of that sentence, based on my experience, yes, original research, because the article was under the tyranny of poor information full stop. Then i gave up some days ago for obvious reasons, so i never referenced nor refined those words. No worries, as we say here.--Jase 06:44, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
I'll just continue in this section, since the one above is too hard to read. Let me just throw in a few points. When I say "you" in the following, I am not referring to any specific person, but to Wikipedia users in general. (1) "Mu" is definitely a word in Japanese. However, my understanding is that it doesn't mean "emptiness" (sunyata) in the Buddhist sense, which is written 空. Normally it means "nothingness", which is different. In the Buddhist context, in Japanese it often refers to a state of consciousness, as you can see from the definition posted above "禅宗で、経験 - 知識を得る以前の純粋な意識。" E.g. "Mu no joutai" means a meditative state of mind with no thoughts occurring. In Chinese Buddhism, I believe originally it was taken over from Daoism, whereas "emptiness" came from Indian Buddhism. I'm not actually sure how it was used as a simple noun in Chinese Buddhism, to tell the truth. I've seen it always as a modifier, as in the famous term "wuwei", but I'm far from an expert. If anyone can give an example of "wu" as a single noun meaning a distinct concept of "nothingness" in Chinese (not Japanese) Buddhism, I'd be interested. (2) When we're talking about the koan, of course we are not talking about Japanese but Chinese. (3) It is definitely interpretative to say that when Joshu answered "mu" to the question about whether a dog had Buddha nature, he was talking about a meditative state of mind, or even nothingness. The normal, literal reading would be "does not have". (4) This koan has been detached from its context and discussed for hundreds of years. Everyone has a different opinion on it. Apart from the literal meaning, it's impossible to be dogmatic (so to speak) about Joshu's intentions.
The upshot is that if you're going to say that "mu" meant more than "does not have" at the time the koan was written (e.g. something like "By saying "Mu" Joshu was talking about emptiness") then you should flag it as an opinion and give a reference.
Of course, if you just want to talk about the Japanese meaning of "Mu" (in the general context of the Wikipedia article topic) then you can write what you want and give references. E.g. the secondary philosophical definition given above, "一切の有無の対立を超え、それらの存立の基盤となる絶対的な無。" is a meaning that exists in Japanese, but it's not good to say that this Japanese philosophical definition definitely applies in the medieval Chinese Buddhist context, at least without good evidence. --Mujokan (talk) 12:19, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for some 'constructive' (meaning beneficial) dialogue Mujokan, whether or not i agree with everything you wrote. This page enlightens me further than the Shogakukan dictionary (i) quoted above:
Muller, A. Charles, ed. Digital Dictionary of Buddhism (Edition of 2010 August 31) page: mu (, "non-existent") -login required, use username=guest password= (without a password) --simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: --Jase 03:36, 2 October 2010 (UTC)


Having no formal knowledge of Japanese (or Zen), I depend on others for enlightenment. To avoid a headache, I have arrived at a synthesis as follows: Each question is asked out of a 'position' or 'world view'. That world view determines how the question is framed, and may often be inferred from the question itself. My (synthesised) interpretation of 'Mu' is that the world view, out of which the question was formed, is too 'narrow' to contain any appropriate answer. For me 'Unask the question" is transformed into "Go away and enlarge your world view. Then reframe the original question. You may, however, find that with your larger world view the question no longer arises".

You will enhance my education with a kind response! —Preceding unsigned comment added by PatManOz (talkcontribs) 19:41, 9 October 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for some 'constructive' (meaning beneficial) dialogue PatManOz.--Jase 22:08, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
You are very kind! —Preceding unsigned comment added by PatManOz (talkcontribs) 23:41, 9 October 2010 (UTC)
Not possible to get into different people's interpretations here due to Wikipedia etiquette. I recommend getting the whole Joshu book (you can get it in English translated from Japanese (not Chinese) by James Green) and reading it in toto. --Mujokan (talk) 17:29, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Mujokan for IMHO your beneficial dialogue and work on the article page. Please don't stop....... then perhaps i might feel like activity on the article again in-team with you.--Jase 03:12, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

This talk page..[edit] an embarrassment to Wikipedia. It seems like some overly opinionated self-designated experts are fighting over details the average reader won't even care about. Why not just add a section that teaches the controversy and move on with your lives. (Bjorn Tipling (talk) 05:43, 9 June 2011 (UTC))

Agreed. The first screenful of the article shouldn't be made up of banners signifying infighting. If the two parties concerned still work on this page and see this, please use your combined knowledge in a constructive way. If you have to summarize and split, do so, but this page's condition needs to be addressed. Matttoothman (talk) 22:04, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Those tags have been up for about a year and no-one has done anything about them. I think therefore the discussion is resolved in favor of inaction. I am just going to rip them all out and see if anyone cares. If they do, they should go find some references and change the article rather than just stick up tags and forget about it for months or years. --Mujokan (talk) 09:55, 2 August 2011 (UTC)


Is it pronounced like "Moo" or "Mew"? I really really want to know so I can use it when people ask questions like that. (talk) 01:50, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

A 'constructive' private question;

More like 'moo', in typical English spelling for pronunciation purposes only. I haven't found a WikiMedia sound file for it yet. One Ref':

Complete Japanese Alphabet Song - Katakana - Hiragana - 日本語 (YouTube)

--macropneuma 04:10, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

The Mu Koan[edit]

Maybe I'm hallucinating, but in the main body, it gives the Koan twice, once at the beginning, and again with the Chinese translation. The thing is, in the first it gives the answer as: "Zhaozhou answered, "Wú" (in Japanese, Mu)" but in the second, "The master said, "Not [Mu]!"".

This is confusing to me. Maybe its just over my head, but I get the impression that the page was vandalized and nobody noticed. In one the answer is a negative, in the second it is a double negative. "Mu", or "Not Mu". Which is it? --Pstanton (talk) 07:17, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

No, it's not a double negative. What Zhaozhou said was "not". The English word "not" is "wu" in Chinese or "mu" with the Japanese pronunciation. Ideally the translation should just be "not". However, since this koan became famous, people feel they have to put the original Chinese word for whatever reason. --Mujokan (talk) 17:33, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually, the ideal translation would be "without" or somesuch, since it's more appropriate than "not" contextually; in English the sentence would require more, like, "No it does not", but classical Chinese allows for a great deal more parsimony in expression. Most dictionaries include both "not" and some version of "lack", "not have", or "without" (i.e., as synomymous with 沒 or 沒有) as definitions for 無. siafu (talk) 17:57, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Voltage to represent binary is generally voltage for one and no voltage for zero — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:47, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

New changes[edit]

I made some changes to the page, taking out a couple of uncited claims which had been sitting around for ages with no support, and adding in some new quotes and references. I also rearranged the order a little. If anyone has any comments on it they can go here. --Mujokan (talk) 17:07, 20 February 2012 (UTC)

Meaningless propositions[edit]

The article would do well to make the parallel with meaningless propositions as discussed in modern logical tradition over the last hundred years. Bertrand Russell's famous The present King of France is bald - neither true nor false but just (relatively) meaningless, according to Russell and many others, because the first part has no possible reference in a post-1848 world - seems quite parallel to some of those eastern questions, and this is stuff that's been studied by historians of logic. (talk) 15:57, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

See Definite description... -- AnonMoos (talk) 22:31, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
Hm, I wasn't asking if the problem highlighted by Bertrand Russell was already mentioned anywhere on Wikipedia, but suggesting it should be mentioned in this article (though not exclusively here, right?). But I realize the kneejerk reaction of many WP editors when there's a discussion of how to integrate something, balance diferent aspects of a topic or cross-reference something across a couple of articles, is to say "let's bump this matter off to a new little article of its own". Now, that's a major difference to mainstream encyclopaedias, whose writers are not afraid of creating a few larger overviews or digging down into a much-discussed set of problems and aiming to explain some things and sort them out, not just collect quoted material. (talk) 22:28, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Mu = a dog's bark?[edit]

When I first learned of this koan in grade school, my teacher claimed that, in addition to the "no, it doesn't" and "negate the question" interpretations of the word "mu," that "mu" was also the sound that the Japanese used to represent a dog's bark, much like "woof" or "bow wow" in English. The answer Joshu gave was thus also a dog's bark, and he was answering as a dog would to the question, with all the ambiguity that such an answer entails. I see no reference to this in the article, leaving me to wonder if it was left out for some reason, or if my teacher completely fabricated that element. Does anyone know more about this? jSarek (talk) 23:54, 20 August 2015 (UTC)

I think your teacher was having you on. I can't say about ancient Japanese, but the modern language uses "wan" or "wan wan" in the same way that English uses "woof" or "woof woof". AtHomeIn神戸 (talk) 04:17, 9 September 2015 (UTC)
In fact, the actual Chinese word is "wu". (The koan is called "Wu Gongan" in the original.) So it's very likely that Sarek's teacher was right. And it ads an important dimension to the lesson: i.e., humour, which we current Zen types are liable to deny we have. Laodah 05:23, 7 August 2016 (UTC)
The Japanese Shiba Inu particularly, but dogs generally- when hunting in pairs (which they love to do)- divide the task into "driver" and "blocker". The blocker sits Buddha-like and hidden, waiting for the driver to chase a rabbit, or lamb, or any prey its way. This process, together with its adaptation for herding purposes (where the driver moves the herd and the blocker defines the ranging limit) was better known in the pre-industrial civilization from which zen arose. One metaphorical interpretation: the teacher, using koans, drives the student towards Buddha-nature. Klasovsky (talk) 20:30, 18 August 2017 (UTC)