The Gateless Checkpoint of the Zen Lineage

Chan Zong Wumen Guan (J. Mumonkan)


By Wumen Huikai (1183-1260, J. Mumon Ekai)


Translated by Gregory Wonderwheel © 2007



  1. Zhaozhou's Puppy

            Venerable Zhaozhou: because a monk asked, "Is the puppy also Buddha Nature or not?"
            Zhou said, "Not."

Wumen (Gateless) Says:   To meet Zen, you must pass through the founders’ checkpoint. For the wonderful awakening you exhaust the road of the heart-mind to the finish. If you do not pass through the ancestor’s checkpoint, if you do not finish the road of the heart-mind, depletion indeed follows like a tree spirit attached to the grass.
            Just say, what is the founders’ checkpoint like? Simply this one single word "Not." That is indeed the one checkpoint of the lineage’s gate! Consequently, this is titled “The Gateless Checkpoint of the Zen Lineage.”
            After you are able to pass through this, you not only intimately come face to face with Zhaozhou, then you can take part in the successive generations of founders, walking together holding hands, your eyebrow hairs entangling, seeing with one and the same eye, hearing with one and the same ear. How could it be that you don’t celebrate quickly?
            Does it not happen to be essential to pass through this foundation
[MM 9] checkpoint? Use your three hundred sixty bones and joints and your eighty four thousand hair follicles throughout your body to start up a single mass of doubt to meet this single word “Not.” Daytime and nighttime lift up and tear. Do not establish an association between nothingness and “Not.” Do not establish an association between "Is" and “Not.”    Examine this as if you swallowed a single hot iron ball and vomiting and vomiting doesn’t get it out. First clean and extinguish your foul knowledge and foul consciousness from long long ago, and when naturally mastered, inside and outside become one.    It’s as if the mute person gets a dream allowing only oneself to know. Suddenly and certainly one punches open to frighten heaven and shake the earth.   It’s as if you snatch and get General Guan's (Checkpoint) great sword into your hand, then if you chance to meet Buddha, you kill Buddha; if you chance to meet ancestors, you kill ancestors. At the top of the high sea-cliff of birth and death you stand ready with great natural ease, and in the midst of the six paths and four births your play is samadhi.

            How do you produce lifting up and tearing? Raising the single word "Not," exhaust the strength of your life spirit until leveled. If you do not interrupt for even an interval of space it’s completed, then one spark and you manifest like a Dharma candle.

[MM 10] The Ode Says:
The Buddha Nature of the puppy,
Fully stated, correctly decreed;
Until you ford across "Is" and "Not",
Dying body, lost destiny.


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This page last edited September 09, 2007.