Trust the Buddha, trust the practice, trust your intention to realise the Way. You made the decision to come to sesshin. Trust yourself enough to honour that decision and commit anew to your practice at the start of each period of zazen. Release anything extra in your body, mind and heart.
Mu is the first koan in the collection called The Gateless Barrier, or the Wu-men Kuan. Wu-men (Mumon) Hui-kai was a Sung period master of the Lin-Chi (Rinzai) school, who lived from 1183 to1260. He worked on the koan “Mu” for six years, sometimes pacing the corridors at night and knocking his head intentionally against the pillars. One day, he heard the drum announcing the noon meal – and suddenly, like the Buddha seeing the morning star, he had a profound experience of understanding.
The Great Way has no gate
there are a thousand different paths
once you pass through the barrier
you walk the universe alone
“If you do not pass the barrier of the ancestors,’ says Wu-men, “if you do not cut off the mind road, then you are a ghost clinging to bushes and grasses. What is the barrier of the Ancestral Teachers? It is just this one word “mu” – the one barrier of our faith.
This teisho, Chao-chou’s Dog or Mu, was given by Gillian Coote, roshi on Day 1 at Spring sesshin 2022