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. The World Honored One Picks a Flower     


The World Honored One a long time ago at a convocation on top of Spirit Mountain* picked up a flower and showed it to the multitude.  At that time all the multitude were thus silent.  Only Arya Kashyapa gave a broad smile and laughed a little. 

The World Honored One said, “I possess the storehouse of the correct Dharma eye, the wonderful heart-mind of Nirvana, the formless true form, the subtle Dharma gate, not established by written words, transmitted separately outside the teaching.  I hand it over and entrust these encouraging words to Kashyapa.”


Wumen says:  Golden-faced Gautama acted audaciously.  He shelved the good to be cheap. He hung a sheep’s head and sold dog meat. How many are ready to say this is peculiar?  But supposing at that place and time the great multitude had all laughed, how could he have put forth the storehouse of the correct Dharma eye in a living transmission?   If Kashyapa was not caused to laugh, how could he have put forth the storehouse of the correct Dharma eye in a living transmission?  If you say the storehouse of the correct Dharma eye can be imparted, then the golden-faced old mister gives deceiving advise at the village gate.  If you say it is not imparted, then verily how can it be that Kashyapa alone was approved?


The Ode says:           

As the flower was picked and raised,

The python’s tail was already revealed;

[MM 17] When Kashyapa cracked a smile,

People and gods [devas] were collected in the net.


[* Spirit Mountain is the euphemistic name for Vulture Peak (Mt. Gridhrakuta) where the Buddha taught several important sutras including the Heart Sutra and the Lotus Sutra.  In Chinese lore the vulture is sometimes called the “spirit eagle” because it eats the dead, and a sort of euphemistic tradition developed of calling the site “Spirit Mountain” instead of Spirit Eagle Mountain or Vulture Peak.]



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This page last edited September 08, 2007.