Gateless Gate 21

Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #21
Yunmen's Kanshiketsu

  • YUNMEN Wenyan (Ummon Bunen, 864-949, 13th gen), disciple of Xuefeng
  • an unnamed monk
Case (Senzaki)
A monk asked Yunmen, “What is Buddha?”
Yunmen answered, “Dried dung."[1]
[1] "Kanshiketsu!" (Sekida); "'Kanshiketsu!' (a shit stick)" (Low); "'Kanshiketsu!' (a dried shit-stick)" (Yamada); "'A shit-stick!' (Kanshiketsu!)" (Shibayama); "Dried shitstick" (Aitken); "A dry turd" (Cleary).

Wumen's Comment (Senzaki)
It seems to me Yunmen was so poor he could not distinguish the taste of one food from another, or else he was too busy to write legibly. He tried to uphold his school with dried dung. His teaching was just as useless."
Wumen's Verse (Senzaki)
Lightning flashes.
In the blink of an eye
You have missed it.
Hotetsu's Verse
What is the meaning
Of the sound of a man shouting,
Four beats, accenting the first and third?
A single measure, and the performance is done.

What is the meaning of a dried shit-stick
As reliable as the human need of it
As disgusting as it is useful?
A single swipe, and the performance is done.

Doesn't this beauty break
Your heart?

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