Gateless Gate 43

Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #43
Shoushan's Shippei

Personnel and Date
  • SHOUSHAN Xingnian (Shuzan Shônen, 926-93, 15th gen), disciple of Fengxue Yanzhao
  • an unnamed monastic
  • Date guess: ca. 979
Case (Aitken)
The priest Shoushan held up his short bamboo staff before his assembly and said, “You monks, if you call this a staff, you’re entangled. If you don’t call this a staff, you ignore the fact.”[1]
Tell me, you monks, what will you call it?”
[1] “call it a bamboo stick, you are clinging” vs. “you are ignoring” (Cleary);
"say it’s a bamboo comb then you’re grasping" vs. "you’re turning away" (Ferguson);
“call it a stick, you oppose it” vs. “you deny it” (Guogu);
“say this is a bamboo abbot-staff, you violate what it is” vs. “you deny what it is” (Hinton);
“call this a staff, you hide reality” vs. “you deny the fact” (Low);
“call this a short staff, you oppose its reality” vs. “you ignore the fact” (Senzaki);
“call this a shippei, you oppose its reality” vs. “you ignore the fact” (Sekida);
“call this a staff, you are committed to the name” vs. “you negate the fact” (Shibayama).
“call this a shippei, you are adhering to the fact” vs. “you are opposing the fact” (Yamada)

Wumen's Comment (Aitken)
Call it a short staff and you’re entangled. Don’t call it a short staff and you ignore the fact. You cannot use words. You cannot not use words. Speak quickly! Speak quickly!
Wumen's Verse (Aitken)
Holding up a short staff –
faithfully giving and taking life;
entangling and ignoring interweave;
Buddhas and Ancestor beg for their lives.

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