Melissa Myozen Blacker ’76 is co-editor (with James Ishmael Ford) of The Book of MU: Essential Writings on Zen’s Most Important Koan (Wisdom Publications, 2011). The word “mu” is one ancient Zen teacher’s response to the earnest question of whether even a dog has “buddha nature”—and discovering for ourselves the meaning of the master’s response is the urgent work of each of us who yearns to be free and at peace.
“Practicing Mu” is synonymous with practicing Zen, and “sitting with Mu” is an apt description for all Zen meditation. It has been said that thousands and thousands of koans in the Zen tradition are really just further elaborations of Mu.
This essential volume brings together the writings of more than 40 teachers, ancient and modern masters from across centuries and the full spectrum of the Zen world, to illuminate and clarify the essential matter: the question of how to be most truly ourselves. These writers include Dogen, Hakuin, Dahui, Thich Thien-An Zenkei Shibayama, Seung Sahn, Taizan Maezumi, Sheng Yen Philip Kapleau, Robert Aitken, Jan Chozen Bays, Shodo Harada Grace Schireson, John Daido Loori, John Tarrant Barry Magid, Joan Sutherland, and more.
Blacker is a Dharma successor to James Ishmael Ford. She is a Zen roshi and a co-founder of Boundless Way Zen, which she currently serves as a senior guiding teacher. She is also the associate director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and a director of professional training at the Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is resident at Mugendo-ji, the Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, Mass.