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




43.  Shoushan's “Bamboo Comb”


Venerable Shoushan picked up his “bamboo comb”* and said to the assembly,  "You people of various ranks, if you call out ‘bamboo comb’ you butt your head into the norm. Not calling out ‘bamboo comb’ you turn your back to the norm. You various people, just say what do you call out?”


Wumen says:  To call out “bamboo comb” you butt your head into the norm. Not to call out “bamboo comb” you turn your back to the norm.  It is not [MM 56] proper to have words; it is not proper to be without words. Speak quickly! Speak quickly!


The Ode says:

Picking up and raising the “bamboo-comb,"

He decrees the killing and saving of lives.

When turning the back and butting the head intersect and propagate,

Buddhas and ancestors beg for their lives.


[* The “bamboo comb” (竹篦, zhúbì) is a Zen master's somewhat curved bamboo staff of rank and office and is about 2 to 3 feet long.]



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This page last edited September 08, 2007.