Zen Koan 7: Can A Vegetarian Become Enlightened?

At first blush, this seems a silly question if read as whether a vegetarian can also become enlightened, as being a vegetarian and enlightened are not mutually exclusive; one could clearly be both.

However, the answer is: Mu. Mu means “nothing.” That is, one is a vegetarian, enlightened and an infinite number of other things when one is nothing; as nothing is what everything is before it is. Otherwise, one cannot be a vegetarian and enlightened.

Enlightened, one dispenses with categories and descriptions (like vegetarian) as every-thing is what it is whatever it is, a temporary and interdependent manifestation of the “it.” “It” is that which is beyond our understanding (some call “it” God, some call “it” nothingness). “It” is what every-thing is before it is and before time begins. Enlightened, we are one with the “it;” one with everything and eternal as time does not exist. Hence, one who perceives themselves as something other than ‘it” (for example, a vegetarian) cannot become enlightened.

Alternatively, this question could be read: is enlightenment more likely if one is a vegetarian? The answer to this question depends on whether the vegetarian can answer the question: who are you?