Gateless Gate 9

Gateless Gate (Mumonkan, Wumenguan) #9
A Buddha Before History

Personnel and Date
  • XINGYANG Qingrang (Kôyô Seijô, 910?-980?, 14th gen), disciple of Bajiao Huiqing
  • an unnamed monastic
  • Date guess: ca. 977
Case (Senzaki)
A monk said to Xingyang Qinrang, "I understand a buddha who lived before recorded history sat in meditation for ten cycles of existence and could not realize the highest truth, and so could not become fully emancipated. How could this be?"[1]
Xingyang replied, "Your question is self-explanatory."[2]
The monk asked, "Since a buddha was meditating, why couldn't he realize buddhahood?"
Xingyang replied, "He was not yet a buddha."[3]
[1] "The Buddha of Supremely Pervading, Surpassing Wisdom did zazen on the Bodhi Seat for ten kalpas, but the Dharma of the Buddha did not manifest itself and he could not attain Buddhahood" (Aitken);
"The Buddha Capable of Great Penetrating Knowledge sat on the site of enlightenment for ten eons, but the realities of enlightenment did not become apparent to him, and he was unable to fulfill the way of Buddhahood" (Cleary);
"...but buddhadharma did not appear to him. How was it that he did not achieve the buddha path?"(Guogu);
"The Buddha of Vast Insight and Surpassing Wisdom sat in meditation for ten kalpas on Buddha-Way Terrace, but the Buddha-dharma never took shape for him. How is it, in all that time, he never wholly became Buddha-Way's turning seasons?" (Hinton);
"Daitsu Chisho Buddha sat in zazen for eons and eons and could not attain Buddhahood" (Low);
"Daitsu Chisho Buddha sat in zazen for ten kalpas and could not attain Buddhahood. He did not become a Buddha. How could this be?" (Sekida);
"Daitsu Chisho Buddha did zazen on a bodhi seat for ten kalpas. Buddha Dharma was not manifested, nor did he attain Buddhahood" (Shibayama);
"Daitsu Chisho Buddha sat in the meditation hall for ten kalpas, but the Dharma of the Buddha did not manifest itself and he could not attain Buddhahood" (Yamada).
[2] "Your question is exactly to the point" (Aitken);
"Your question is quite clearly to the point" (Cleary);
"This question is most appropriate" (Guogu);
"A question to the point exactly" (Hinton);
"That's a good question" (Low);
"Your question is quite self-explanatory" (Sekida);
"Your question is splendid indeed" (Shibayama);
"Your question is reasonable indeed" (Yamada).
[3] "Because he is a nonattained Buddha" (Aitken);
"Because he did not fulfill Buddhahood" (Cleary);
"Because he did not" (Guogu);
"Because he never became a Buddha" (Hinton);
"Don't overdo it" (Low);
"Because he did not become a Buddha" (Sekida);
"Because he did not attain Buddhahood" (Shibayama);
"Because he is a non-attained Buddha" (Yamada).

Wumen's Comment (Senzaki)
I will allow the realization, but I will not admit the understanding.
When one who is ignorant attains realization, that one is a sage.
A sage who begins to understand is ignorant.
Wumen's Verse (Senzaki)
It is better to realize mind than body.
When you realize mind, you need not worry about body.
When body and mind become one, you are free
And desire no praise.
Setsusho's Verse (2020 Aug 27)
Deaf monk sits beneath a dead branch
Half moon hangs in the sky
In Kenosha, Jacob Blake
Lies in hospital, spine severed
Channel is open for dharma
study if you're interested!
Hotetsu's Verse
Why am I making no
Progress? Why? WHY?

Yes, yes, of course there's no
Progress to be made.
All things, as they are:
Fully realized.
I know that.
Everybody knows that.
But other than that

Why am I making no progress?

To marry this question,
To wed it and bed it,
Companion it,
Produce issue with it,
Means, as marriages do,
Not being master or slave
And not neglecting.

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