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The Gateless Gate

 

The Gateless Gate or The Gateless Barrier (Chin. Wu-wen kuan; Jap. Mumonkan)

The author is Chinese Ch'an master Wu-men Hui-hai (無門慧開 Mumon Ekai, 1183-1260).

 

English Translation

By late Zen master Katsuki Sekida (Two Zen Classics 26-137)

 

Original Chinese Text

The original Chinese text is taken from the following Japanese web site:

 

                  http://homepage1.nifty.com/poem-club/mumonnkan/mumonkanwoyomu.htm

 

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

 

Chinese Characters

Unfortunately a few Chinese characters were not given in this site. Luckily these characters are less than 1% of the text. Where there was a definition about these ideograms, they are entered them using Chinese system (Big 5). There are also ideograms that appear as mere black boxes, without any explanations. These are replaced with dummy characters (empty square boxes).

 

 

The Gateless Gate 無門關

Wu-wen kuan (Mumonkan)

 

Case 28 Ryûtan Blows Out the Candle   二十八 久嚮龍潭

 

龍潭、因徳山請益抵夜。

Tokusan asked Ryûtan about Zen far into the night.

潭云、夜深。

At last Ryûtan said, "The night is late.

子何不下去。

Why don't you retire?"

山遂珍重掲簾而出。 見外面黒却回云、外面黒。

Tokusan made his bows and lifted the blinds to withdraw, but he was met by darkness. Turning back to Ryûtan, he said, "It is dark outside."

潭乃點紙燭度與。

Ryûtan lit a paper candle and handed it to him.

山擬接。潭便吹滅。

Tokusan was about to take it when Ryûtan blew it out.

山於此忽然有省。 便作禮。

At this, all of a sudden, Tokusan went through a deep experience and made bows.

潭云、子見箇甚麼道理。

Ryûtan said, "What sort of realization do you have?"

山云、某甲從今日去不疑天下老和尚舌頭也。

"From now on," said Tokusan, "I will not doubt the words of an old oshõ who is renowned everywhere under the sun."

至明日、龍潭陞堂云、可中有箇漢、牙如劍樹、口似血盆。

The next day Ryûtan ascended the rostrum and said, "I see a fellow among you. His fangs are like the sword tree. His mouth is like a blood bowl.

一棒打不回頭。

Strike him with a stick, and he won't turn his head to look at you.

他時異日、向孤峰頂上立君道在。

Someday or other, he will climb the highest of the peaks and establish our Way there."

山遂取疏抄於法堂前、將一炬火提起云、窮諸玄辨、若一毫致於太虚、竭世樞機似一滴投於巨壑。

Tokusan brought his notes on the Diamond Sutra to the front of the hall, pointed to them with a torch, and said, "Even though you have exhausted the abtruse doctrines, it is like placing a hair in a vast space. Even though you have learned all the secrets of the world, it is like a drop of water dripped on the great ocean."

將疏抄便燒。

And he burned all his notes.

於是禮辭。

Then, making bows, he took his leave of his teacher.

 

Mumon's Comment

無門曰、徳山未出關時、心憤憤、口□□、得得來南方要滅却教外別傳之旨。

Before Tokusan crossed the barrier from his native place, his mind burned and his mouth uttered bitterness. He went soutward, intending to stamp out the doctrines of special transmission outside the sutras.

及到州路上問婆子買點心。

When he reached the road to Reishû, he asked an old woman to let him have lunch to "refresh the mind."

婆云、大徳車子内是甚麼文字。

"Your worship, what sort of literature do you carry in your pack?" the old woman asked.

山云、金剛經疏抄。

"Commentaries on the Diamond Sutra," replied Tokusan.

婆云、只如經中道、過去心不可得、見在心不可得、未來心不可得。

The old woman said, "I hear it is said in that sutra, 'The past mind cannot be held, the present mind cannot be held, the future mind cannot be held.'

大徳、要點那箇心。

Now, I would like to ask you, what mind are you going to have refreshed?"

徳山被者一問、直得口似檐。

At this question Tokusan was dumbfounded.

然雖如是、未肯向婆子句下死却。遂問婆子、近處有甚麼宗師。

However, he did not remain inert under her words but asked, "Do you know of any good teacher around here?"

婆云、五里外有龍潭和尚。

The old woman said, "Five miles from here you will find Ryûtan Oshõ."

及到龍潭納盡敗闕。

Coming to Ryûtan, Tokusan got the worst of it.

可謂是前言不應後語。

His former words were inconsistent with his later ones.

龍潭大似憐兒不覺醜。

As for Ryûtan, he seemed to have lost all sense of shame in his compassion toward his son.

見他有些子火種、郎忙將惡水驀頭一澆澆殺。

Finding a bit of live coal in the other, enough to start a fire, he hurriedly poured on muddy water to annihilate everything at once.

冷地看來、一場好笑。

A little cool reflection tells us it was all a farce.

 

Mumon's Verse 頌曰

聞名不如見面         Hearing the name cannot surpass seeing the face;

見面不如聞名         Seeing the face cannot surpass hearing the name.

雖然救得鼻孔         He may have saved his nose,

爭奈瞎却眼晴         But alas! he lost his eyes.

 

Next chapter: Case 29 The Sixth Patriarch's "Your Mind Moves"

 

Energy Enhancement Enlightened Texts Zen Mumonkan: The Gateless Gate

 

 

 

Energy Enhancement Enlightened Texts Zen Mumonkan: The Gateless Gate

 

 

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