The Gateless Gate

The Gateless Gate 無門關

Wumen’s Preface

Buddhism makes mind its foundation and no-gate its gate.

Now, how do you pass through this no-gate?

It is said that things coming in through the gate can never be your own treasures.
What is gained fromexternal circumstances will perish in the end.

However, such a saying is already raising waves when there is no wind.
It is cutting unblemished skin.

As for those who try to understand through other people’s words, they are striking at the moon with astick;
scratching a shoe, whereas it is the foot that itches. What concern have they with the truth?
In the summer of the year 1228, Huikai was in Longxiang si Temple and as head monk worked with themonks,
using the cases of the ancient masters as brickbats to batter the gate and lead them on accordingto their respective capacities.

The text was written down not according to any scheme, but just to make a collection of forty-eightcases.

It is called Wumenkuan, “The Gateless Gate.
A man of determination will unflinchingly push his way straight forward, regardless of all dangers.

Then even the eight-armed Nata cannot hinder him.

Even the four sevens of the West and the two threes of the East would beg for their lives.

If one has no determination, then it will be like catching a glimpse of a horse galloping past the window:in the twinkling of an eye it will be gone.
Verse 頌曰
大道無門 The Great Way is gateless,
千差有路 Approached in a thousand ways.
透得此關 Once past this checkpoint
乾坤獨歩 You stride through the universe.


Case 1. Zhaozhou’s “Wu”  一 趙州狗子

趙州和尚、因僧問、狗子還有佛性也無。 州云、無。
A monk asked Zhaozhou, “Has a dog the Buddha Nature?” Zhaozhou answered, “Wu (無: not have ofnot exist).

Wumen’s Comment
In order to master Chan(Kor. Seon), you must pass the barrier of the patriarchs.
To attain this subtlerealization, you must completely cut off the way of thinking.

If you do not pass the barrier, and do not cut off the way of thinking, then you will be like a ghostclinging to the bushes and weeds.

Now, I want to ask you, what is the barrier of the patriarchs?

Why, it is this single word “Wu.
” That is the front gate to Chan.

Therefore it is called the “Wumenkan of Chan.

If you pass through it, you will not only see Zhaozhou face to face, but you will also go hand in handwith the successive patriarchs, entangling your eyebrows with theirs, seeing with the same eyes, hearingwith the same ears.

Isn’t that a delightful prospect?

Wouldn’t you like to pass this barrier?

Arouse your entire body with its three hundred and sixty bones and joints and its eighty-four thousandpores of the skin; summon up a spirit of great doubt and concentrate on this word “Wu.

Carry it continuously day and night.
Do not form a nihilistic conception of vacancy, or a relative
conception of “has” or “has not.

It will be just as if you swallow a red-hot iron ball, which you cannot spit out even if you try.

—蕩盡從 前惡知惡覚、久久純熟自然内外打成 片、如唖子得夢、只許自知。
All the illusory ideas and delusive thoughts accumulated up to the present will be exterminated, andwhen the time comes, internal and external will be spontaneously united.
You will know this, but foryourself only, like a dumb man who has had a dream.

驀然打發、驚天 動地。
Then all of a sudden an explosive conversion will occur, and you will astonish the heavens and shake theearth.

It will be as if you snatch away the great sword of the valiant general Kuanyu and hold it in your hand.
When you meet the Buddha, you kill him; when you meet the patriarchs, you kill them.
On the brink oflife and death, you command perfect freedom; among the sixfold worlds and four modes of existence,you enjoy a merry and playful samadhi.

Now, I want to ask you again, “How will you carry it out?”
Employ every ounce of your energy to work on this “Wu.”
If you hold on without interruption, behold: a single spark, and the holy candle is lit!

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
狗子佛性 The dog, the Buddha Nature,
全提正令 The pronouncement, perfect and final.
纔渉有無 Before you say it has or has not,
喪身失命You are a dead man on the spot.


Case 2 Baizhang’s Fox  二 百丈野狐

When Ven. Baizhang delivered a certain series of sermons, an old man always followed the monks to themain hall and listened to him.

When the monks left the hall, the old man would also leave.

One day, however, he remained behind, and Baizhang asked him, “Who are you, standing here before me?”

The old man replied.

“I am not a human being.

In the old days of Kasyapa Buddha, I was a head monk, living here on this mountain.

One day a student asked me, ‘Does a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke of causation or not?’

I answered, ‘No, he does not.

Since then I have been doomed to undergo five hundred rebirths as a fox.

I beg you now to give the turning word to release me from my life as a fox.

Tell me, does a man of enlightenment fall under the yoke of causation or not?”

Baizhang answered, “He does not ignore causation.

No sooner had the old man heard these words than he was enlightened.

Making his bows, he said, “I am emancipated from my life as a fox.
I shall remain on this mountain.

I have a favor to ask of you: would you please bury my body as that of a dead monk.”

Baizhang had the director of the monks strike with the gavel and inform everyone that after the middaymeal there would be a funeral service for a dead monk.

The monks wondered at this, saying, “Everyone is in good health; nobody is in the sick ward.
What doesthis mean?”

After the meal Baizhang led the monks to the foot of a rock on the far side of the mountain and with hisstaff poked out the dead body of a fox and performed the ceremony of cremation.

That evening he ascended the rostrum and told the monks the whole story.

Huangbo thereupon asked him, “The old man gave the wrong answer and was doomed to be a fox forfive hundred rebirths.
Now, suppose he had given the right answer, what would have happened then?”

Baizhang said, “You come here to me, and I will tell you.

Huangbo went up to Baizhang and boxed his ears.

Baizhang clapped his hands with a laugh and exclaimed, “I was thinking that the barbarian had a redbeard, but now I see before me the red-bearded barbarian himself.”

Wumen’s Comment

Not falling under causation: how could this make the monk a fox?

Not ignoring causation: how could this make the old man emancipated?

If you come to understand this, you will realize how old Baizhang would have enjoyed five hundredrebirths as a fox.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
不落不昧 Not falling, not ignoring:
兩采一賽 Two faces of one die.
不昧不落 Not ignoring, not falling:
千錯萬錯 A thousand errors, a million mistakes.


Case 3 Juzhi Raises a Finger  三 倶胝堅指

Whenever Ven. Juzhi was asked about Chan, he simply raised his finger.

Once a visitor asked Juzhi’s boy attendant, “What does your master teach?”

The boy too raised his finger.

Hearing of this, Juzhi cut off the boy’s finger with a knife.

The boy, screaming with pain, began to run away.

胝復召之。童子廻首。胝却 堅起指。
Juzhi called to him, and when he turned around, Juzhi raised his finger.

The boy suddenly became enlightened.

When Juzhi was about to pass away, he said to his assembled monks, “I obtained one-finger Chan fromTianlong and used it all my life but still did not exhaust it.”

When he had finished saying this, he entered into eternal Nirvana.

Wumen’s Comment
The enlightenment of Juzhi and of the boy does not depend on the finger.

If you understand this, Tianlong, Juzhi, the boy, and you yourself are all run through with one skewer.

Wumen’s Verse
Juzhi made a fool of old Tianlong,

Emancipating the boy with a single slice,

Just as a powerful spirit cleaved Mt. Huashan

To let the Yellow River run through.

Case 4 The Western Barbarian with No Beard  四 胡子無髭

Huoan said, “Why has the Western Barbarian no beard?”

Wumen’s Comment
Study should be real study, enlightenment should be real enlightenment.

You should once meet this barbarian directly to be really intimate with him.

But saying you are really intimate with him already divides you into two.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
癡人面前 Don’t discuss your dream
不可説夢 Before a fool.
胡子髭無 Barbarian with no beard
惺惺添□ Obscures the clarity.


Case 5 Xiangyan’s “Man up in a Tree”  五 香嚴上樹香

Ven. Xiangyan said, “It is like a man up in a tree hanging from a branch with his mouth; his hands graspno bough, his feet rest on no limb.

Someone appears under the tree and asks him, ‘What is the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from theWest?’ If he does not answer, he fails to respond to the question.
If he does answer, he will lose his life.

What would you do in such a situation?”

Wumen’s Comment
Even if your eloquence flows like a river, it is of no avail.

Though you can expound the whole of Buddhist literature, it is of no use.

If you solve this problem, you will give life to the way that has been dead until this moment and destroythe way that has been alive up to now.

Otherwise you must wait for Maitreya Buddha and ask him.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
香嚴眞杜撰 Xiangyan is truly thoughtless;
惡毒無盡限 His vice and poison are endless
唖却納僧口 He stops up the mouths of the monks,
通身迸鬼眼 And devil’s eyes sprout from their bodies.


Case 6 The Buddha Holds Out a Flower  六 世尊拈花

When Shakyamuni Buddha was at Mt. Grdhrakuta, he held out a flower to his listeners.

Everyone was silent.

Only MahaKasyapa broke into a broad smile.

The Buddha said, “I have the True Dharma Eye, the Marvelous Mind of Nirvana, the True Form of theFormless, and the Subtle Dharma Gate, independent of words and transmitted beyond doctrine.
This I have entrusted to MahaKasyapa.

“Wumen’s Comment

Golden-faced Gautama really disregarded his listeners.

He made the good look bad and sold dog’s meat labeled as mutton.

He himself thought it was wonderful.

If, however, everyone in the audience had laughed, how could he have transmitted his True Eye?

And again, if MahaKasyapa had not smiled, how could the Buddha have transmitted it?

□若道正方眼藏有傳授、黄面老子、誑 閭閻。
If you say the True Dharma Eye can be transmitted, then the golden-faced old man would be a cityslicker who cheats the country bumpkin.

If you say it cannot be transmitted, then why did the Buddha approve of MahaKasyapa?

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
拈起花來 Holding out a flower,
尾巴已露 The Buddha betrayed his curly tail.
迦葉破顔 Heaven and earth were bewildered,
人天罔措 At MahaKasyapa’s smile.


Case 7 Zhaozhou’s “Wash Your Bowl”  七 趙州洗鉢

A monk said to Zhaozhou, “I have just entered this monastery.

Please teach me.

“Have you eaten your rice porridge?” asked Zhaozhou.

“Yes, I have,” replied the monk.

“Then you had better wash your bowl,” said Zhaozhou.

With this the monk gained insight.

Wumen’s Comment
When he opens his mouth, Zhaozhou shows his gallbladder.
He displays his heart and liver.

I wonder if this monk really did hear the truth.
I hope he did not mistake the bell for a jar.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
只爲分明極 Endeavoring to interpret clearly,
翻令所得遲 You retard your attainment.
早知燈是火 Don’t you know that flame is fire?
飯熟已多時 Your rice has long been cooked.

Case 8 Xizhong the Wheelmaker  八 奚仲造車

Ven. Yuean said, “Xizhong, the first wheelmaker, made a cart whose wheels had a hundred spokes.

Now, suppose you took a cart and removed both the wheels and the axle.
What would you have?”

Wumen’s Comment
If anyone can directly master this topic, his eye will be like a shooting star, his spirit like a flash oflightning.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
機輪轉處When the spiritual wheels turn,
達者猶迷Even the master fails to follow them.
四維上下They travel in all directions, above and below,
南北東西North, south, east, and west.

Case 9 The great Buddha of supreme penetraton and wisdom 九 大通智勝興

A monk asked Ven. Xingyang Rang, “The great Buddha of supreme penetraton and wisdom sat in
sitting meditation for ten kalpas and could not attain Buddhahood.
He did not become a Buddha.
Howcould this be?”

Rang said, “Your question is quite self-explanatory.”

The monk asked, “He meditated so long; why could he not attain Buddhahood?”

Rang said, “Because he did not become a Buddha.

“Wumen’s Comment
I allow the barbarian’s realization, but I do not allow his understanding.

When an ignorant man realizes it, he is a sage.

When a sage understands it, he is ignorant.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
了身何似了心休 Better emancipate your mind than your body;
□了得心 身不愁 When the mind is emancipated, the body is free,
若也身心倶了了 When both body and mind are emancipated,
神仙何必更封候 Even gods and spirits ignore worldly power.


Case 10 Qingshui Is Utterly Destitude  十 清税弧貧

Qingsui said to Ven. Caoshan, “Qingsui is utterly destitude.

Will you give him support?”

Caoshan called out, “Qingshui!”

Qingsui responded, “Yes, sir!”

Caoshan said, “You have finished three cups of the finest wine in China, and still you say you have notyet moistened your lips!”

Wumen’s Comment

Qingshui pretended to retreat. What was his scheme?

Caoshan had the eye of Buddha and saw through his opponent’s motive.

However, I want to ask you, at what point did Qingsui drink wine?

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
貧似范丹 Poverty like Fandan’s,
氣如項羽 Mind like Xiangyu’s;
活計雖無 With no means of livelihood,
敢與鬪富 He dares to rival the richest.


Case 11 Zhaozhou Sees the Hermits   十一 州勘庵主

Zhaozhou went to a hermit’s cottage and asked, “Is the master in? Is the master in?”

The hermit raised his fist.

Zhaozhou said, “The water is too shallow to anchor here,” and he went away.

Coming to another hermit’s cottage, he asked again, “Is the master in? Is the master in?”

This hermit, too, raised his fist.

Zhaozhou said, “Free to give, free to take, free to kill, free to save,” and he made a deep bow.

Wumen’s Comment

Both raised their fists; why was the one accepted and the other rejected?

□且道、 訛在甚處。
Tell me, what is the difficulty here?

If you can give a turning word to clarify this problem, you will realize that Zhaozhou’s tongue has nobone in it, now helping others up, now knocking them down, with perfect freedom.

However, I must remind you: the two hermits could also see through Zhaozhou.

If you say there is anything to choose between the two hermits, you have no eye of realization.

若道無優劣、亦未具參 學眼。
If you say there is no choice between the two, you have no eye of realization.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
眼流星The eye like a shooting star,
機掣電The spirit like a lighting;
殺人刀A death-dealing blade,
活人劍A life-giving sword.


Case 12 Ruiyan Calls His Master  十二 巖喚主人

Ven. Ruiyan Yan called to himself every day, “Master!” and answered, “Yes, sir!”

乃云、惺惺着。 □。
Then he would say, “Be wide awake!” and answer, “Yes, sir!”

他時異日、莫受人瞞。 □□。
“Henceforward, never be deceived by others!” “No, I won’t!”

Wumen’s Comment
Old Ruiyan buys and sells himself.
He takes out a lot of god-masks and devil-masks and puts them onand plays with them.

What for, eh?

One calling and the other answering; one wide awake, the other saying he will never be deceived.

If you stick to any of them, you will be a failure.

If you imitate Ruiyan, you will play the fox.

Wumen’s Verse
頌曰學道之人不識眞 Clinging to the deluded way of consciousness,
只爲從前認識神 Students of the Way do not realize truth.
無量劫來生死本 The seed of birth and death through endless eons:
癡人喚作本來人 The fool calls it the true original self.


Case 13 Teshan Holds His Bowls   十三 徳山托鉢

One day Teshan went down toward the dining room, holding his bowls.

Xuefeng met him and asked, “Where are you off to with your bowls? The bell has not rung, and thedrum has not sounded.
” Teshan turned and went back to his room.

Xuefeng mentioned this to Yantou, who remarked, “Teshan is renowned, but he does not know the lastword.

Teshan heard about this remark and sent his attendant to fetch Yantou.
“You do not approve of me?” heasked.

Yantou whispered his meaning.

Teshan said nothing at the time, but the next day he ascended the rostrum, and behold! he was verydifferent from usual!

Yantou, going toward the front of the hall, clapped his hands and laughed loudly, saying,”Congratulations! Our old man has got hold of the last word!

From now on, nobody in this whole country can outdo him!”

Wumen’s Comment
As for the last word, neither Yantou nor Teshan has ever dreamed of it!

When you look into the matter, you find they are like puppets on the shelf!

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
識得最初句 If you realize the first,
便會末後句 You master the last.
末後與最初 The first and the last
不是者一句 Are not one word.

Case 14 Naquan Cuts the Cat in Two  十四 南泉斬猫

Ven. Naquan saw monks of the Eastern and Western halls quarreling over a cat.

He held up the cat and said, “If you can give an answer, you will save the cat.
If not, I will kill it.

No one could answer, and Naquan cut the cat in two.

That evening Zhaozhou returned, and Naquan told him of the incident.

Zhaozhou took off his sandal, placed it on his head, and walked out.

“If you had been there, you would have saved the cat,” Naquan remarked.

Wumen’s Comment
Tell me, what did Zhaozhou mean when he put the sandal on his head?

If you can give a turning word on this, you will see that Naquan’s decree was carried out with goodreason.

If not, “Danger!”

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
趙州若在 Had Zhaozhou been there,
倒行此令 He would have done the opposite;
奪却刀子 When the sword is snatched away,
南泉乞命Even Naquan begs for his life.


Case 15 Dongshan’s Sixty Blows   十五 洞山三頓

Dongshan came to study with Yunmen.
Yunmen asked, “Where are you from?”

“From Zhadu,” Dongshan replied.

“Where were you during the summer?”

“Well, I was at Baoci monastery ofHunan, south of the lake.”

“When did you leave there,” Yunmen asked.

“On August 25” was Dongshan’s reply.
“I spare you sixty blows,” Yunmen said.
The next day Dongshan came to Yunmen and said, “Yesterday you said you spared me sixty blows.

I beg to ask you, where was I at fault?”

“Oh, you rice bag!” shouted Yunmen.
“What makes you wander about, now west of the river, now southof the lake?”

Dongshan thereupon came to a mighty enlightenment experience.

Wumen’s Comment
If Yunmen had given Dongshan the true food of Chan and encouraged him to develop an active Chanspirit, his school would not have declined as it did.

Dongshan had an agonizing struggle through the whole night, lost in the sea of right and wrong.
Hereached a complete impasse.
After waiting for the dawn, he again went to Yunmen, and Yunmen againmade him a picture book of Chan.

Even though he was directly enlightened, Dongshan could not be called brilliant.

Now, I want to ask you, should Dongshan have been given sixty blows or not?

If you say yes, you admit that all the universe should be beaten.

If you say no, then you accuse Yunmen of telling a lie.

If you really understand the secret, you will be able to breathe out Chan spirit with the very mouth ofDongshan.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
獅子教兒迷子訣 The lion had a secret to puzzle his cub;
擬前跳躑早翻身 The cub crouched, leaped, and dashed forward.
無端再敍當頭著 The second time, a casual move led to checkmate.
前箭猶輕後箭深 The first arrow was light, but the second went deep.

Case 16 When the Bell Sounds   十六 鐘聲七條

Yunmen said, “The world is vast and wide.

Why do you put on your seven-piece robe at the sound of the bell?”

Wumen’s Comment
In studying Chan, you should not be swayed by sounds and forms.

Even though you attain insight when hearing a voice or seeing a form, this is simply the ordinary way ofthings.

Don’t you know that the real Chan student commands sounds, controls forms, is clear-sighted at everyevent and free on every occasion?

Granted you are free, just tell me: Does the sound come to the ear or does the ear go to the sound?

If both sound and silence die away, at such a juncture how could you talk of Chan?

While listening with you ear, you cannot tell
When hearing with your eye, you are truly intimate.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
會則事同一家 With realization, things make one family;
不會萬別千差 Without realization, things are separated in a thousand ways.
不會事同一家 Without realization, things make one family;
會則萬別千差 With realization, things are separated in a thousand ways


Case 17 the National Teacher Gives Three Calls   十七 國師三喚

The National Teacher called his attendant three times, and three times the attendant responded.

The National Teacher said, “I long feared that I was betraying you, but really it was you who werebetraying me.

“Wumen’s Comment
The National Teacher called three times, and his tongue fell to the ground.

The attendant responded three times, and he gave his answer with brilliance.

The National Teacher was old and lonely; he held the cow’s head and forced it to eat grass.

The attendant would have none of it;

□美食不中飽人 、且道、那裏是他辜負處。
delicious food has little attraction for a man who is satiated.

Tell me, at what point was the betrayal?

When the country is flourishing, talent is prized.
When the home is wealthy, the children are proud.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
鉄枷無孔要人擔 He carried and iron yoke with no hole
累及兒孫不等閑 And left a curse to trouble his descendants.
□□欲得 門并 戸 If you want to hold up the gate and the doors,
更須赤脚上刀山 You must climb a mountain of swords with bare feet.


Case 18 Dongshan’s “Masanjin”   十八 洞山三斤

A monk asked Dongshan, “What is Buddha?”

Dongshan replied, “Masanjin!” [three pounds of flax]

Wumen’s Comment
Old Dongshan attained the poor Chan of a clam. He opened the two halves of the shell a little andexposed all the liver and intestines inside

But tell me, how do you see Dongshan?

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
突出麻三斤 “Three pounds of flax” came sweeping along;
言親意更親 Close were the words, but closer was the meaning.
來説是非者 Those who argue about right and wrong
便是是非人 Are those enslaved by right and wrong.


Case 19 Naquan’s “Ordinary Mind Is the Way”   十九 平常是道

Zhaozhou asked Naquan, “What is the Way?”

“Ordinary mind is the Way,” Naquan replied.

“Shall I try to seek after it?” Zhaozhou asked.

“If you try for it, you will become separated from it,” responded Naquan.

“How can I know the Way unless I try for it?” persisted Zhaozhou.

Naquan said, “The Way is not a matter of knowing or not knowing

Knowing is delusion; not knowing is confusion.

When you have really reached the true Way beyond doubt, you will find it as vast and boundless asouter space.

How can it be talked about on the level of right and wrong?”

With these words, Zhaozhou came to a sudden realization.

Wumen’s Comment
Naquan dissolved and melted away before Zhaozhou’s question, and could not offer a plausibleexplanation.

Even though Zhaozhou comes to a realization, he must delve into it for another thirty years before hecan fully understand it.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
春有百花秋有月 The spring flowers, the autumn moon;
夏有涼風冬有雪 Summer breezes, winter snow.
若無閑事挂心頭 If useless things do not clutter your mind,
更是人間好時節 You have the best days of your life.


Case 20 The Man of Great Strength    二十 大力量人

Ven. Songyuan asked, “Why is it that a man of great strength does not lift his legs?”

And he also said, “It is not the tongue he speaks with.

“Wumen’s Comment無門曰、松源可謂、傾腸倒腹。
It must be said that Songyuan shows us all his stomach and intestines.

But alas, no one can appreciate him!

And even if someone could appreciate him, let him come to me, and I’ll beat him severely.


If you want to find pure gold, you must see it through fire.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
擡脚踏翻香水海 Lifting his leg, he kicks up the Scented Ocean;
低頭俯視四禪天Lowering his head, he looks down on the fourth Dhyana heaven.
一箇渾身無處著請 There is no space vast enough for his body
—續一句 Now, somebody write the last line here.

Case 21 Yunmen’s “Ganshijue”    二十一 雲門屎橛

A monk asked Yunmen, “What is Buddha?”

Yunmen replied, “Ganshijue!” [A dry shit-stick.]

Wumen’s Comment
Yunmen was too poor to prepare plain food, too busy to speak from notes.

He hurriedly took up a shit-stick to support the Way.

The decline of Buddhism was thus foreshadowed.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
閃電光Lightning flashing,
撃石化Sparks shooting;
貶得眼A moment’s blinking,
巳蹉過Missed forever.

Case 22 Kasyapa’s “Knock Down the Flagpole”   二十二 迦葉刹竿

Ananda asked Kasyapa, “The World-honored One gave you the golden robe; did he give you anythingelse?”

“Ananda!” cried Kasyapa.

“Yes, sir!” answered Ananda.

“Knock down the flagpole at the gate,” said Kasyapa.

Wumen’s Comment無門曰、若向者裏下得一轉語親切、便見靈山一會儼然未散。
If you can give a turning word at this point, you will see that the meeting at Mount Grdhrakuta is stillsolemnly continuing.

If not, then this is what Vipassin Buddha worried about from remote ages; up to now he has still notacquired the essence.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
問處何如答處親 Tell me—question or answer—which was more intimate?
幾人於此眼生筋 Many have knit their brows over this;
兄呼弟鷹揚家醜 Elder brother calls, younger brother answers, and they betray the family secret.
不屬陰陽別是春 They had a special spring, not one of yin and yang.

Case 23 Think Neither Good Nor Evil   二十三 不思善惡

The Sixth Patriarch was pursued by the monk Huiming as far as Dayu Mountain.


The patriarch, seeing Huiming coming, laid the robe and bowl on a rock and said,
“This robe representsthe faith; it should not be fought over.
If you want to take it away, take it now.

“□明遂擧之如山不動、踟 悚慄。明白、我來 求法、非爲衣也。
Huiming tried to move it, but it was as heavy as a mountain and would not budge.
Faltering andtrembling, he cried out, “I came for the Dharma, not for the robe.

I beg you, please give me your instruction.

The patriarch said, “Think neither good nor evil.
At this very moment, what is the original self of themonk Huiming?”

At these words, Huiming was directly illuminated.
His whole body was covered with sweat.

泣涙作禮、問曰、上來密語密意外、還更 有意旨否。
He wept and bowed, saying, “Besides the secret words and the secret meaning you have just nowrevealed to me, is there anything else, deeper still?”

The patriarch said, “What I have told you is no secret at all.

When you look into your own true self, whatever is deeper is found right there.

Huiming said, “I was with the monks under the Fifth Patriarch for many years but I could not realize mytrue self.

But now, receiving your instruction, I know it is like a man drinking water and knowing whether it iscold or warm.

My lay brother, you are now my teacher.

The patriarch said, “If you say so, but let us both call the Fifth Patriarch our teacher.

Be mindful to treasure and hold fast to what you have attained.

“Wumen’s Comment無問曰、六祖可謂、是事出急家老婆心切。
The Sixth Patriarch was, so to speak, hurried into helping a man in an emergency, and he displayed agrandmotherly kindness.

It is as though he peeled a fresh sugar apple, removed the seed, put it in your mouth, and asked you toswallow it down.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
描不成兮畫不就 You cannot describe it; you cannot picture it;
贊不及兮休生受 You cannot admire it; don’t try to eat it raw.
本來面目没處藏 Your true self has nowhere to hide;
世界壞時渠不朽 When the world is destroyed, it is not destroyed.

Case 24 Fengxue’s Speech and Silence   二十四 離却語言

A monk asked Fengxue, “Both speech and silence are faulty in being li
[離 inward action of mind] orWei [微 outward action of mind].
How can we escape these faults?”

Fengxue said,
“I always remember the spring in Jiangnan (the south of a river),
Where the partridges sing;
How fragrant the countless flowers!”

Wumen’s Comment
Fengxue’s Chan spirit was like lightning and opened a clear passage.

However, he was entangled in the monk’s words and could not cut them off.

If you can really grasp the problem, you can readily find the way out.

Now, putting language samadhi aside, say it in your own words.

Wumen’s Verse 頌曰
不露風骨句 He does not use a refined phrase;
未語先分付 Before speaking, he has already handed it over.
進歩口喃喃 If you chatter on and on,
知君大罔措 You will find you have lost your way.


The Gateless Gate or The Gateless Barrier (Chin. Wumenkuan; Jap. Wumenkan; Kor. Mumugwan)
The author is Chinese Chan master Wumen Huihai (無門慧開 1183-1260).

English Translation
By late Zen master Katsuki Sekida (Two Zen Classics 26-137)Modified by JOKB (japanese-style expressions replaced by chinese-style)

The Chinese and Japanese texts in this web site are taken from the book titled Wumenkan, published in
Japan by Iwanami Bunkõ.

Chinese Characters
Unfortunately a few Chinese characters were not given in this site.
Luckily these characters are less than1% of the text.

Where there was a definition about these ideograms, they are entered them usingChinese system (Big 5).
There are also ideograms that appear as mere black boxes, without anyexplanations.
These are replaced with dummy characters (empty square boxes).

Leave a Reply