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Chapter 26: Beyond the Mind

If you say no - if you say “No, a dog does not have a buddha nature,” then again you miss, because if a dog has not got it then there is no possibility of any evolution. Then how can the dog grow to be a buddha one day? Every buddha has been a dog one day, an animal one day, even lower than an animal, a vegetable, even lower than a vegetable. Everyone has been through all these stages. If someone, Gautam Siddharth, becomes a buddha and he has once been a dog, an animal, a plant, a tree, everything - if this buddha nature comes to be realized one day, how can it happen if it was not already there? It is just a manifestation, it must have been hidden somewhere. So you cannot say no, because a dog has a hidden buddha nature. It is nowhere to be found manifested in him, hidden deep down, it is there.

So both answers miss the point. And by missing the point you miss your own buddha nature, because you are a dog, an animal - not yet a buddha. If you say yes, then you will not endeavor to attain it, because it is futile to endeavor for that which you have already got. And if you say no, the possibility is closed. Both answers miss the point. But if you go on thinking about it, just by thinking about these two contradictory answers.

Go on thinking about it. Stop all other thinking and concentrate your whole consciousness on this point: whether a dog has a buddha nature or not. Go on thinking of all the possibilities, all the alternatives, all the arguments for and against. Go on thinking about it, make it a deep meditation. Then suddenly one day thinking will stop, because you cannot find any alternative through thinking. And when thinking stops, it is not going to be that you will get the answer to the koan. The koan is not meant for that. When thinking stops, you will realize your own buddha nature.

Whenever somebody went to the Zen master Bokuju he would give them this puzzle: whether a dog has a buddha nature or not. Everyone knew about it. Even newcomers knew that he was going to give them this koan.

A newcomer came. He must have been a wise man - at least in his own eyes. The disciple thought, “I’m not going to give Bokuju a chance to ask me this puzzle, I will ask it first. Let us see what will happen”

He came with many friends. At the moment Bokuju was about to utter the words, the disciple said, “Stop! First let me ask you a question. Does a dog have a buddha nature or not?”

And you know what Bokuju did? - it is better that I should repeat it. He said, “Bow-wow!” - he became a dog. He didn’t answer, and he did answer. He was saying, “I am both, both dog and god. The lowest within me is a dog and the highest within me is a god.”

Don’t get entangled in the duality - transcend both. That was the meaning of his laughter. Laughter transcends both.

Now get ready for the meditation.