Zen has no gates. The purpose of the Buddha's words is
to enlighten others. Therefore Zen should be gateless.
Now, how does one pass through this gateless gate?
Some say that whatever enters through a gate is not family treasure,
that whatever is produced by the help of another is likely to
dissolve and perish.
Even such words are like raising waves in a windless sea or
performing an operation on a healthy body. If one clings to
what others have said and tries to understand Zen by explanation,
he is like a dunce who thinks he can beat the moon with a pole
or scratch an itching foot from the outside of a shoe. It will
be impossible after all.
In the year 1228 I was lecturing monks in the
Ryusho temple in eastern China, and at their request I retold
old koans, endeavouring to inspire their Zen spirit. I meant
to use the koans as a man who picks up a brick to knock at a gate,
and after the gate is opened the brick is useless and thrown away.
My notes, however, were collected unexpectedly, and there were
forty-eight koans, together with my comment in prose and verse
concerning each, although their arrangement was not in the order
of telling. I have called the book The Gateless Gate, wishing
students to read it as a guide.
If the reader is brave enough and goes straight forward in his
meditation, no delusions can disturb him. He will become
enlightened just as did the patriarchs in India and China.
But if he hesitates one moment, he is as a person watching from
a small window for a horseman to pass by, and in a wink he has
The great path has no gates,
Thousands of roads enter it.
When one passes through this gateless gate
He walks freely between heaven and earth.
Mumon's introduction to the classic collection of Zen koans known as The Gateless Gate.
Transcription by gn0sis.