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The Gateless Gate: The Classic Book of Zen Koans Paperback – June 15, 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Koun Yamada's superb translation of The Gateless Gate has accompanied me throughout my practice and my teaching ever since the first edition appeared over two decades ago. His teisho on the Cases are alive and pithy, directly conveying Master Mumon's vivid Zen and the life-transforming words of our ancestral teachers. How fortunate we are to have this new edition, with a Foreword by the esteemed Ruben Habito." (Roko Sherry Chayat, Abbot, Zen Center of Syracuse Hoen-ji)

"Yamada Roshi's straightforward commentary on the Wu-men kuan (Mumonkan) is again available in this new edition, and I'm delighted. As his Dharma heir, his teachings are my own, as they are for his many other successors in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Now our students and a new generation of Zen students everywhere can benefit directly from his guidance. I'm very grateful." (Robert Aitken, author of Taking the Path of Zen, and Zen Master Raven)

"Yamada Koun was of that fine old breed of Japanese Zen Masters- piercing, disciplined, and always on point. 'The Gateless Gate' distills his teaching and spirit marvelously. It is an essential text for anyone interested in the Zen koan, and in the process of Zen awakening. " (Norman Fischer, former abbot, San Francisco Zen Center, teacher and founder Everyday Zen Foundation. Author of Taking Our Places: the Buddhist Path to Truly Growing Up.)

"This is an essential reference book for everyone working on koans, and an inspiring window on Zen practice for those who are not." (David Loy, author of The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory)

"Koun Yamada Roshi played a seminal role in spreading Zen Buddhism from Japan to the West. His insightful and profound commentaries on the Gateless Gate arise from his deep understanding of the Buddha-Dharma. They will help Zen students of all abilities to appreciate the significance of koans, not as paradoxical riddles, but as touchstones of reality." (Gerry Shishin Wick Roshi)

"Koans are the intimate family history of Zen. The awakened mind of the Zen ancestors is conveyed, but also their effort, sweat, pain, and joy. Koun Yamada's excellent translation and commentary helped opened the door to this world for many of us, and this new edition is sure to do so for many more.." (Kyogen Carlson, Dharma Rain)

"The penetrating voice of a unique lay Zen master! The depth of Yamada Koun Roshi's insight doesn't allow him to keep any religious, cultural or racial border in his heart. Consequently many westerners as well as catholic fathers and sisters joined his sangha. Reading his words, we realize that the Dharma has nothing to do with east or west, Buddhism or Christiany. Buddha nature is universal." (Eido Shimano Roshi, Abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo, Kongo-Ji)

About the Author

Koun Yamada became a dharma successor to the renowned Zen master Haku'un Yasutani while maintaining a prominent career in business and public health. He guided the Zen practice of many students including a large number of Roman Catholic priests, monks, and nuns.

A former Jesuit priest, Ruben L.F. Habito is professor of world religions and spirituality at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and resident teacher at Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas. A dharma heir of Yamada Koun, he is also the author of Healing Breath and other works in Japanese and English.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861713826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861713820
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Gateless Gate (Mumonkan) is one of the most influential texts in the history of Zen Buddhism, and Koun Yamada lucidly guides us to its essential wisdom.

In the style of the classic masters, Koun Yamada presents a treasure trove of insight from his lifetime of practice and enlightenment.

His commentaries on the Mumonkan one open the way to the profound wisdom embodied in this peerless collection of koans, revealing one of the reasons that Koun Yamada was so influential in bringing Zen Buddhism to the West.

Also included is an introduction to the History of Zen Practice, lineage charts, Japanese-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Japanese conversion charts for personal names, and names of writings, place names, and more.

This translation of the Gateless Gate is alone worth the price of the book-- add to that Yamada's profound commentary and the supplamental material and you will see the reason why this is a must own book for anyone interested in Zen.
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This is the classic set of koans with teisho written in a modern style. You will not have to struggle with arcane language and metaphors. Yamada explains the older metaphors fairly well as well. You can get to the meat of the matter rather than the semantics!
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This volume has an excellent set of historical observations about Zen and the commentaries on the "koans" are in progression as in any good law book. I feel this is the most outstanding edition available.
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Format: Kindle Edition
20-Nov-2011

The Gateless Gate: The Classic Book of Zen Koans is one of the principal collections of Zen koans (Chinese: "public records"), masterfully translated by Koun Yamada Roshi. More recent translations exist, but this book is the basis of much of current Zen teaching.

Compiled by Mumon almost 900 years ago, the koans in Gateless Gate (or Gateless Barrier) are short stories or riddles that are used as a means to accelerate the process of realization. While these riddles can't be solved by any rational process, they must be penetrated to realize their message. (Ask yourself: "Should I walk to work or take my lunch?" If an answer exists, it can't be produced by any logical system I'm aware of. Developing this answer is analogous to the process of realizing/solving a koan.)

I've owned a copy of Gateless Gate for over 30 years, though I originally purchased the book out of curiosity. It made absolutely no sense to me whatever, but I kept it because I found some of the stories amusing. I bought the latest edition because my teacher uses it occasionally as the basis for Dharma talks, though I have yet to formally embark on koan study. It is delightful to have this important Zen study aid - and other Zen titles - available for kindle.

[As with all my reviews of Zen-related products, I provide a disclaimer: Zen isn't something you read about or talk about. Find a qualified teacher. Develop strong practice habits. Realize yourself and be well.]

18-Dec-2011

Contrary to other reviews, this is not a general-purpose text for people interested in spirituality.
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I find myself reading and rereading this book, and gaining new insights from every passage each time as though I'm reading it for the first time. The translation of the Koans are excellent, and Koun Yamada brings great insight to the meaning, and non-meaning of the great Zen Master Mumon's words.

If you're interested in Zen, but don't know where to start, look no further! This book is truly priceless.
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Koun Yamada's translations are essential not just for students working on koans but for all of us (laymen) interested in spirituality. I find myself going back to this book for inspiration and clarity.
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Yamouda's translation, and commentary to The Mumukon sits atop the heap of all great, classical translations of beloved spiritual guides to any mystical tradition. It can stand alone as a beacon, or it can be used to light the way through other important, but less ably translated, spiritual guides. I give The Gateless Gate in this translation my highest recommendation. Were this book the only guide to spiritual practice available to a pilgrim, I would count that pilgrim well-equipped to follow the Buddhist, mystical oath.
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Format: Paperback
In our lineage, after one "clearly sees what can't be seen, and clearly comprehends the incomprehensible", the practice moves on to preliminary koans followed by the Mumonkon { Wu-Men-Kan}. Yamada roshi's book has been extremely helpful to me in this process of ever deepening, ever clarifying. And always bringing it back to: it's just this thing; it's not some other thing. So simple, so invaluable, and such a testament to the strength, depth, and integrity of his teacher: Da'un Sogaku Yasutani roshi. Essential for anyone working on koan practice.
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