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Zen is famous for koans (called kong-ans in Korean, and in this book), those bizarre and seemingly unanswerable questions Zen masters pose to their students to check their realization (such as ?What is the sound of one hand clapping??). Fear of koans keeps some people from ever giving Zen practice a try. But here, through the experience of seeing a modern Zen master work with his students, you can see what koan training is really like: It?s a ...
Zen is famous for koans (called kong-ans in Korean, and in this book), those bizarre and seemingly unanswerable questions Zen masters pose to their students to check their realization (such as “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”). Fear of koans keeps some people from ever giving Zen practice a try. But here, through the experience of seeing a modern Zen master work with his students, you can see what koan training is really like: It’s a skillful, lively practice for attaining wisdom.
This book presents the system of ten koans that Zen Master Seung Sahn came to call the “Ten Gates.” These koans represent the basic types one will encounter in any course of study. Each of the ten gates, or koans, is illuminated by actual interchanges between Zen Master Seung Sahn and his students that show what the practice is all about: it is above all a process of coming to trust one’s own wisdom, and of manifesting that wisdom in every koan-like situation life presents us with.
For more information on the author, Zen Master Seung Sahn, visit his website at kwanumzen.com.
From First Gate: Joju's Dog
Someone asked JoJu Zen Master, "Does a
dog have buddha-nature?"
JoJu said, "Mu." ("No.")
The first question is: Buddha said all things have buddha-nature. Nature means substance. All things have this substance. But JoJu said a dog had no buddha-nature. Which one is correct?
The second question is: JoJu said, "Mu." What does mu mean? This mu has no meaning. If you find a meaning, that's a big mistake. If you are attached to yes and no, you will have a problem. Mu is behind yes and no. Behind yes and no means behind everything. Our world is an opposites world—heaven, earth; yes, no; man, woman; good, bad—what is not opposites? But who made these opposites? God, Buddha, human beings? We make opposites. If you put it all down, return to before thinking, then there are no opposites. If you have no opposites then mu is alive. If you have opposites thinking, then mu hits you. JoJu said, "Mu," so this monk is very surprised.
This third question is: Does a dog have buddha-nature? What can you do? Many students understand this, but understanding cannot help. You must attain the correct function of freedom from life and death—only understanding freedom from life and death cannot help you.
Foreword by Robert Aitken Roshi vii
Introduction by Zen Master Dae Kwang ix
Ten Gates: A poem by Zen Master Seung Sahn xvii
JoJu's Dog 1
JoJu's Washing the Bowls 7
Seong Am Calls Master 18
Bodhidharma Has No Beard 28
Hyang Eom's "Up a Tree" 37
Dropping Ashes on the Buddha 46
Ko Bong's Three Gates 59
Duk Sahn Carrying His Bowls 71
Nam Cheon Kills a Cat
Mouse Eats Catfood 98
Man Gong's Net 112
Seung Sahn's Three Men Walking 114
The Third Interview by Jerry Shepherd 117
Notes on the Zen Masters of the Ten Gates 121
Biography of Zen Master Seung Sahn 123