Read Unlocking the Zen Koan: A New Translation of the Zen Classic Wumenguam by Wumen Huikai Free Online
Book Title: Unlocking the Zen Koan: A New Translation of the Zen Classic Wumenguam|
ISBN 13: 9781556432477
The author of the book: Wumen Huikai
Edition: North Atlantic Books
Date of issue: September 24th 1997
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.29 MB
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Elusive and enigmatic, zen koans have long puzzled people with their surprise meanings hidden in simple tales. Now one of America's finest translators of Asian philosophy provides a brillian new translation of the 12th century Wumenguan, the most popular of Chinese Zen koans. In Unlocking the Zen Koan (originally published as No Boundary), Thomas Cleary translates directly from the Chinese and interprets Zen Master Wumen's text and commentaries in verse and prose on the inner meaning of the koans. Cleary then gives us other great Chinese Zen masters' comments in prose or verse on the same koan. Cleary's probing, analytic commentaries wrestle with meaning and shading, explaining principles and practices. Five different steps to follow in reading the koan being with its use as a single abrupt perception, and lead progressively to more intellectual readings, illustrating the fixations which stand in the way of a true Zen understanding.
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Read information about the authorWumen Huikai (simplified Chinese: 无门慧开; traditional Chinese: 無門慧開; pinyin: Wúmén Huìkāi; Wade-Giles: Wu-men Hui-k'ai; Japanese: Mumon Ekai) (1183–1260) is a Song period Chán (Japanese: Zen) master most famous as the compiler of and commentator on the 48-koan collection The Gateless Gate (Japanese: Mumonkan). Wumen was at that time the head monk of Longxiang (Wade-Giles: Lung-hsiang; Japanese: Ryusho) monastery.
Wumen was born in Hangzhou and his first master was Gong Heshang. However, it was Zen master Yuelin Shiguan (月林師觀; Japanese: Gatsurin Shikan) (1143–1217) who gave Wumen the koan "Zhaozhou’s dog", with which Wu-men struggled for six years before he finally attained realization. After his understanding had been confirmed by Yuelin, Wumen wrote his enlightenment poem:
A thunderclap under the clear blue sky
All beings on earth open their eyes;
Everything under heaven bows together;
Mount Sumeru leaps up and dances. (Aitken, p4)
He received Dharma transmission in the Linji line (Japanese: Rinzai) of Zen from his master, Yuelin.
In many respects, Wumen was the classical eccentric Chan master. He wandered for many years from temple to temple, wore old and dirty robes, grew his hair and beard long and worked in the temple fields. He was nicknamed "Huikai the Lay Monk". (Aitken, p4) At age 64, he founded Gokoku-ninno temple near West Lake where he hoped to retire quietly, but visitors constantly came looking for instruction.
His teachings, as revealed in his comments in The Gateless Gate, closely followed the teachings of Dahui Zonggao (大慧宗杲; Wade-Giles: Ta-hui Tsung-kao; Japanese: Daei Sōkō) (1089–1163). The importance of "Great Doubt" was one of his central teaching devices. Wumen said, "...[understanding Zen is] just a matter of rousing the mass of doubt throughout your body, day and night, and never letting up." (Yamada p xlii) In his comment on Case 1, Zhaozhou's dog, he called mu (無) "a red-hot iron ball which you have gulped down and which you try to vomit up, but cannot". (Yamada, p 14) Wumen believed in blocking all avenues of escape for the student, hence the "gateless barrier". Whatever activity the student proposed, Wumen rejected: "If you follow regulations, keeping the rules, you tie yourself without rope but if you act any which way without inhibition you're a heretical demon. ... Clear alertness is wearing chains and stocks. Thinking good and bad is hell and heaven. ... Neither progressing nor retreating, you're a dead man with breath. So tell me, ultimately how do you practice?" (Yamada, p xliii)