The Gateless Gate

The Master Mumon Ekai said,

“Buddhism makes mind its foundation and no-gate its gate.

Now, how do you pass through this no-gate?

It is said that things coming in through the gate can never be your own treasures.

What is gained from external circumstances will perish in the end.

However, such a saying is already raising waves when there is no wind. It is cutting unblemished skin.

As for those who try to understand through other people’s words, they are striking at the moon with a stick; scratching a shoe, whereas it is the foot that itches.

What concern have they with the truth?


The Great Way is gateless,
Approached in a thousand ways.
Once past this checkpoint
You stride through the universe.

Zen master e’s comment

Zen takes mind as it’s foundation and no gate as its gate

If you do otherwise you just become bound in pretty concepts that may turn heads but hinder your every move.

Like a geisha.

Have you ever seen a geisha walk?

Those tight tiny steps. In those wooden shoes. It takes a lot of practice. The kimono and geta that they wear constrict even the simplest of things like walking. Every foot needs to be placed just so or else they’ll slip and fall. Their bodies crashing all over the road. Their makeup and hair a mess. Hours upon hours of preparation ruined.

Their minds are in a constant knot always checking checking checking – needing to make sure they’re not doing it wrong. Doing everything they can to look perfect. They can’t disappoint all those people who stop and watch them pass by. They need to maintain a certain standard of beauty or else they’ve failed.

We too are like this when we’re caught up in our minds and trapped by thoughts. When we’re lost in thinking we become bound up and ever move is constricted. Every step is a huge concerted effort.

The same is true when we think that we’re practitioners. When we get snared and tangled up in concepts and words. When we read book after book about the dharma.

We bind boundlessness up in thought.

Just like a geisha.

Every step must be perfect. Everything must be tight or else it will all fall apart. We constantly need to put on a show and make sure everything fits just right. That we know something – so we remain tense and ready with our memorized answers. Always concerned what others will think of us. Always wanting to be a true buddhist. Always checking checking checking.

Zen is free of all this tightness.

It strips itself naked in front of the world.

For we’re already clothed in perfection.

Walk boldly through the open gate.

Every step a proclamation of truth.

A single stride covers the whole universe.

There is just wide open possibility if the mind is free from thought.

The gate is wide open.

You enter into a field filled with stillness, wonder and light.

Strip off your geisha costume of concepts and questions and be naked and free.

Blessed in the sweet release from the binding of mind.

Everyone wants to see the real you under all your robes of thought anyways.

Zen points to mind. That’s where the action is. That’s where all things are born.

To look somewhere other than mind is like hitting the moon’s reflections in water and convincing yourself you’ve actually hit the moon.

So why not go back to the source?

When you look back at mind you look to the source of the 10,000 things.

All things return to the source but where does the source return to?

Now in this place what is your first face?

When you see it you’ll laugh and stride boldly ahead seeing that the gate has been wide open this whole time.

You just had to look back at what’s looking.

There you’ll see nothing.

Just perfect clarity and vast emptiness.

The fundamental nature of mind is perfect and clear.

It illuminates all.

And lets you walk boldly along the way leaving no tracks.

Throw away all your books and finally be free.

Step out of your tight fitting concepts and float effortlessly upon the ocean of eternity.

Then you’ll see the beauty of Buddhism making mind its foundation and no-gate its gate.

Walk boldly. Walk free.

The Buddha’s play in the vast fields of thoughtlessness.

I’ll meet you there.

And when you arrive you’ll laugh realizing you never left in the first place.

Walk through the open gate into hought-free open loving awareness.