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




23. Don’t Think Good and Evil


The Sixth Ancestor: Because Upper-seat Ming pursued and arrived at Daiyu mountain, the Ancestor upon seeing Ming arrive and draw near tossed down the robe and bowl on top of a rock and said,  “This robe is a superficial sign, can force contend for it? I allow you to remove it.”

            Ming went to lift up the robe, but like a mountain it did not move.  Hesitating and trembling with fear, Ming said, "I come to seek the Dharma, not [MM34] for the robe!  I hope, the monastery Helper [xingzhe the "go-fer" or servant, lit. “he who walks”/ “he who does”], will open it and teach me.”

The Ancestor said, "Don’t think good, don’t think evil.  Right now, what is it that is the original face of Upper-seat Ming?”

Ming just then fell into great realization. The sweat of his body flowed everywhere. Weeping tears he did proprieties and asked,  “Beyond coming to these esoteric words and esoteric meaning, is there not a further outward intended purpose?”

The Ancestor said, "I am someone who has just now spoken to you, accordingly it is not esoteric!  If you turn back to illuminate your own self's face the esoteric still is beside you.”

Ming said, "This I declare, even though I was at the assembly following Huangmei, I had not truly introspected the face of my own self.  Now, by receiving this finger-pointing teaching, I have entered the place where I am like a person drinking water and knowing for oneself if it is cold or warm.  Now, Helper, in fact I am certain you are my root teacher!”

            The Ancestor said, "You suppose so, however I together with you have the same teacher, Huangmei.  To complete it, take care of yourself.”


Wumen says:   It could even be said the Sixth Ancestor was putting forward his function like the wife of a family whose worries are close to her heart.  For instance, he takes a fresh lichee fruit, finishes peeling the skin, finishes removing the pit, puts it inside your mouth, and you should [MM35] just swallow it in one swallow.


The Ode says:

It is incapable of being copied; it can’t begin to be depicted;

Praise is unbecoming; cease giving rise to sensations (vedana).

The face that comes has no place to be concealed.

At the time the world is destroyed, it is immortal.



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This page last edited September 08, 2007.