Soshin Wolfgang Drechsler
Zen master Zenkei Shibayana has done a great job in guiding the reader through what has been, for more than 7th century, one of the most rigorous training exercise in Zen: the koans in the "Gateless Barrier" or "Mumonkan," without the reader's having to become a training Zen monk. He did this out of his "elder's mind" (in Japanese: roshin) and out of his "grandmotherly heart" (robashin in J), for the tradition has always been to keep koan exercises strictly between the teacher and the student. (There are no correct answers, per se, to these koans and the exercise is only complete under the supervison of a teacher). And for the real purists like Shuan who wrote the preface to "Momonkan", they would urge us to "throw it away without waiting for me to do so. Let no drop of it fall into the world." In this regard, Shuan paled when compared to Ta-hui (Chinese spelling) who took the decisive step of burning every copy of the so-called frist book of Zen, Hegiganroku (Blue Cliff Record in Chinese), which had been written by a member of his teacher's school, he could find. They both would have made Bodhidharma, the first Chinese Chan Patriach, proud - if that's possible, who wrote the famous gatha (a Buddhist poem): Transmission outside doctrine, No dependencies on words, Pointing directly at the mind, Thus seeing oneself truly, Attaining Buddhahood (Trans by Lucien Stryk & Takashi Ikemoto, in the Penguin Book of Zen Poetry).
So, perhaps this reviewer has relied too much on words already.Read more ›