Passing Through the Gateless Barrier: Koan Practice for Real Life
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The classic thirteenth-century collection of Zen koans with one of the most accessible commentaries to date, from a Chinese Zen teacher.
Gateways to awakening surround us at every moment of our lives. The whole purpose of kōan (gong’an, in Chinese) practice is to keep us from missing these myriad opportunities by leading us to certain gates that have traditionally been effective for people to access that marvelous awakening. The forty-eight kōans of the Gateless Barrier (Chinese: Wumenguan; Japanese: Mumonkan) have been waking people up for well over eight hundred years. Chan teacher Guo Gu provides here a fresh translation of the classic text, along with the first English commentary by a teacher of the Chinese tradition from which it originated.
He shows that the kōans in this text are not mere stories from a distant past, but are rather pointers to the places in our lives where we get stuck—and that each sticking point, when examined, can become a gateless barrier through which we can enter into profound wisdom.