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The Gateless Barrier: The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan) Paperback – January 1, 1991
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From Library Journal
The Mumonkan is a classic Zen text consisting of 48 koans collected by Wu-men, a Chinese master who lived in the 13th century. This fresh translation and commentary by Aitken, a prominent American Zen master, is striking in its evidence of careful scholarship and attention to the problems of translation. In contrast to Zenkei Shibayama's Zen Comments on the Mumonkan ( LJ 4/15/74), Aitken's commentaries more carefully maintain a feeling of Zen "non" sense in addressing the content of the cases, yet his historical explications nicely place the text in perspective for the uninitiated reader. This translation belongs alongside other editions in collections with a particular interest in Zen. For those with a more marginal interest, this would only be appropriate as an enhancement to more basic works on the subject.
- Mark Woodhouse, Gan nett-Tripp Lib., Elmira Coll., N.Y.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Aitken Roshi poses these koans in a manner accessible to Westerners through his depiction of his personal struggles with them (as a student) and his approach to them as a teacher. His commentary allows the transformative power of this traditional koan collection to come alive for modern students.” ―Joko Beck, author of Everyday Zen
“[Aiken] has cultivated the moon of Zen for over half a century. I trust the rich and juicy harvest . The Gateless Barrier will be the door to open the Treasure House which has neither inside nor outside.” ―Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi, Abbot, Zen Center of Los Angeles
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Here is one koan/story:
The priest Hsiang-yen said,"It is as though you were up in a tree hanging from a branch with your teeth.Your hands and feet can't touch any branch. Someone appears beneath the tree and asks, 'What is the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the West?' If you do not answer you evade your responsibility.If you do answer you lose your life. What do you do?"
What do you do in such a situation?
It's my first Amazon book purchase, and I did not realize they were selling "seconds".
Robert Aitken Roshi, the elder Statesman of Zen Buddhism in the West and author of the perennial, Taking the Path of Zen, offers English reading students and practitioners a veritable gold mine of wisdom from a lifetime of practice and enlightenment on the path of Zen.
Developed and refined through decades of active and continuous teaching, Aitken Roshi's translation of, and commentaries on the forty-eight cases of this classic Zen koan collection subtly reveal the profound depths of the wisdom of Zen. This sincere Zen master offers us an inside view of the enlightened mind through his instructive, evocative, lucid presentations of the multi-faceted science of mind known as Zen.
Besides commentaries on all 48 cases, Aitken Roshi shares his wisdom on Mumon's "Preface", "Postscript", and "Cautions." His meticulous attention to authentic scholarship, one of the hallmarks of all of Aitken's work, provides readers with plenty of extra leads by the inclusion of detailed notes for each case. Also included are a sectional bibliography, lineage charts, Chinese-Japanese, and Japanese-Chinese equivalent tables, a helpful glossary, and more.