Mu is one of the heaviest words in the Zen vocabulary; this one character contains within itself the entirety of Zen Buddhist teachings. While we translate it into English as ‘nothing’ or ‘nothingness’, sometimes I prefer to translate it as ‘emptiness’. Not only does this remind me of how it is necessary to empty our minds to better focus on the moment immediately at hand, but it also speaks to how all things are empty of any inherent character which is changeless. That is to say, we are all empty of anything unchanging. Who we are right now is different from what we just were, or what we are about to become. According to the Buddha, it is only through reflecting on and understanding this unceasing changing that we can reach an end of suffering.
~ Alex N.
Tea students in the Urasenke Urbana-Champaign association