The Gateless Barrier
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- An appreciation for the koan collection "the Gateless Gate"
“The Great Way is gateless,
Approached in a thousand ways.
Once past this checkpoint
You stride through the universe.”
The Wúménguān is the most popular collections of koans in the zen tradition. Many of the central stories of the old masters are included in the collection. The 48 cases were compiled by master Wumen (1183 – 1260) for teaching at a retreat. He claimed that the text, including the title, were thrown together without much thought and the koans are in no particular order. I’m not sure if he can be believed. Like a zen madman, Wumen was said to have grown his hair and beard long and to have wandered around saying things people thought were crazy. Wumen’s name means “no door” or “no entryway” and it’s the first part of the title of the text. The second part guan means “barrier” or “boundary”.
The Great Way is the path we’re on. The path inspired by the Buddha, the cultivating of awareness and compassion. Find your true nature and help others, that sums up the path.
Wumen said that the “doorless wall” is the door into the Buddha’s teaching. How do you pass through a doorless wall?
We’re going to try to find out together.
This course is a study of the first eight koans in this classic collection.
- people interested in zen buddhism or buddhism in general