One of the oldest and most studied riddles in all of Zen Buddhism is the kōan known as “Zhaozhou’s Dog.”
When a monk asks Zhàozhōu (aka Jōshū), an 8th-century Chinese Zen master, whether a dog has Buddha nature or not, the ever cryptic and mischievous master barks, “Mu” (a word that means “nothingness”). In the centuries, since, whole books have been written seeking to explain the significance of this answer. Did Zhàozhōu bark the word as an affirmation? As a negation? As a dismissal of the question itself? All three at once? Whatever the case, we think Zhàozhōu would have enjoyed drinking his tea from one of our Alphabet Kōan mugs while listening to the monks and scholars bicker about it all.
“A good thing isn’t as good as nothing.” – Zhàozhōu
A portion of proceeds from sales goes to Frontier College, an accredited charity that provides literacy programs to children, youth and adults across Canada (including in Indigenous communities).