The Gateless Barrier: The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan)

Overview

The Gateless Barrier is generally acknowledged to be the fundamental koan collection in the literature of Zen. Gathered together by Wu-men (Mumon), a thirteenth-century master of the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school, it is composed of forty-eight koans, or cases, each accompanied by a brief comment and poem by Wu-men.

Robert Aitken, one of the premier American Zen masters, has translated Wu-men's text, supplementing the original with his own commentary — the first such commentary by a ...

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Overview

The Gateless Barrier is generally acknowledged to be the fundamental koan collection in the literature of Zen. Gathered together by Wu-men (Mumon), a thirteenth-century master of the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school, it is composed of forty-eight koans, or cases, each accompanied by a brief comment and poem by Wu-men.

Robert Aitken, one of the premier American Zen masters, has translated Wu-men's text, supplementing the original with his own commentary — the first such commentary by a Western master — making the profound truths of Zen Buddhism accessible to serious contemporary students and relevant to current social concerns.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865474420
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 1/28/1991
  • Pages: 348
  • Sales rank: 988,997
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Aitken, Roshi of the Diamond Sangha in Honolulu, is the author of Taking the Path of Zen and The Mind of Clover.

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