Mumonkan Case 5

Discussion of Zen Buddhism.
User avatar
lindama
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:20 pm
Location: Forestville, CA

Mumonkan Case 5

Post by lindama » Wed May 29, 2019 4:16 am

This crossed my path again this weekend. I have heard it many times. here u go:
The Gateless Gate, by Ekai, called Mu-mon, tr. Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps [1934], at sacred-texts.com

5. Kyogen Mounts the Tree

Kyogen said: "Zen is like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another person asks him: 'Why did Bodhidharma come to China from India?'

"If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?"

Mumon's comment: In such a predicament the most talented eloquence is of no use. If you have memorized all the sutras, you cannot use them. When you can give the right answer, even though your past road was one of death, you open up a new road of life. But if you cannot answer, you should live ages hence and ask the future Buddha, Maitreya.

Kyogen is truly a fool
Spreading that ego-killing poison
That closes his pupils' mouths
And lets their tears stream from their dead eyes.
https://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/glg/glg05.htm
It can also be found in Guo Gu's book: Passing Thru the Gateless Barrier, Case 5, page 57. it left him speechless. ;)

User avatar
clyde
Site Admin
Posts: 386
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:08 am
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Mumonkan Case 5

Post by clyde » Wed May 29, 2019 6:19 am

As I read the story of Xiangyan in Guo Gu’s book, I wondered about the poem Xiangyan, who greatly awakened when “he heard the sound of a pebble as it hit a bamboo stem,” gave his teacher, Weishan. Here’s Xiangyan’s enlightenment poem:
One stroke dissolves knowledge,
Struggle no longer needed.
I will follow the ancient path,
Not lapsing into quietude.
Noble conduct beyond sound and form –
No trace anywhere.
Those who have mastered the way
May call this an unsurpassable activity.

- translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi

https://quotes.justdharma.com/enlighten ... n-zhixian/
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”

User avatar
clyde
Site Admin
Posts: 386
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:08 am
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by clyde » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:50 am

Guo’s commentary on Mumonkan Case 5 is excellent.

Here’s a link to another contemporary commentary by Zoketsu Norman Fisher:

http://everydayzen.org/teachings/2007/x ... en%20Koans

Here’s a taste,
You come to a point in your life I think where you realize you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You realize that you are holding onto something and you can’t let it go and you know you have to let it go. This becomes something immense and you can’t seem to find any way to let it go even though the misery it is causing you becomes very intense.
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”

User avatar
loves' the unjust
Posts: 727
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:17 pm
Location: Ankara, turkey

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by loves' the unjust » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:06 am

clyde wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:50 am

Here’s a taste,
You come to a point in your life I think where you realize you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You realize that you are holding onto something and you can’t let it go and you know you have to let it go. This becomes something immense and you can’t seem to find any way to let it go even though the misery it is causing you becomes very intense.
definetely this explains the presence of my own zen practice.
cooper

User avatar
lindama
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:20 pm
Location: Forestville, CA

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by lindama » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:28 pm

a koan for the question of zen thinking of no thought.

User avatar
Great Sage EofH
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:55 pm

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by Great Sage EofH » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:31 pm

Since the man in the tree can't get down, he is doomed anyway. Therefore this Kyogen seems to think Zen is dead already. And if his Zen is dead, so is Kyogen. Why bother answering to someone who is already dead? Why not say the first thing that comes into your mind and join Kyogen in Hell then?
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

User avatar
clyde
Site Admin
Posts: 386
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:08 am
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by clyde » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:40 pm

Watch out below!
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”

User avatar
Great Sage EofH
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:55 pm

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by Great Sage EofH » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:53 am

A monk asked Tosu, “Is there a dragon howl in a dead tree?”
Tosu said, “I say there’s a lion roar in a skull. ”
"We are magical animals that roam" ~~ Roam

User avatar
[james]
Posts: 353
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:19 am
Location: Are we there yet?

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by [james] » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:41 am

Great Sage EofH wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:53 am
A monk asked Tosu, “Is there a dragon howl in a dead tree?”
Tosu said, “I say there’s a lion roar in a skull. ”
“When we do zazen, it’s like fishing for the moon and tilling the clouds. The mind grows vast, everying becomes calm, and we become intimate with ourselves.” Taisen Deshimaru

... different flavor, same same.

Spike
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:35 am

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by Spike » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:58 am

lindama wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 4:16 am

5. Kyogen Mounts the Tree

Kyogen said: "Zen is like a man hanging in a tree by his teeth over a precipice. His hands grasp no branch, his feet rest on no limb, and under the tree another person asks him: 'Why did Bodhidharma come to China from India?'

"If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?"
It is a mistake to view answering this question as needing to make one choice over another.
Last edited by Spike on Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:03 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
[james]
Posts: 353
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:19 am
Location: Are we there yet?

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by [james] » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:02 am

clyde wrote:
Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:40 pm
Watch out below!
“Watch out below”, he answered the fool (if you answer it) question and plummeted,

or

“Watch out below”, he clung for dear life (and continued to live the magnificent life experience for however long) till the inevitable necessity arrived and he plummeted.

Does the koan have a point of view?

(Spike, I missed your post while writing. So how could it not be about a choice?)

Seeker242
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2018 3:43 pm

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by Seeker242 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:37 am

"If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?"
My teacher posed that question to me like this:

The person under the tree has a gun, if you do not answer, he will shoot you and you'll die. If you open your mouth to answer, you'll fall and you'll die. You are the man in the tree, how do you stay alive?

:D

User avatar
loves' the unjust
Posts: 727
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:17 pm
Location: Ankara, turkey

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by loves' the unjust » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:43 am

Mumonkan Case 5

I don't think thought comes

would be my final answer
cooper

Spike
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:35 am

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by Spike » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:07 pm

[james] wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:02 am
(Spike, I missed your post while writing. So how could it not be about a choice?)
Because zen is never about making distinctions.

Spike
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:35 am

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by Spike » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:33 pm

What is the choice? There is no choice, because if you choose, you die.

Just do zazen!

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 2492
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by fuki » Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:41 pm

Spike wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:58 am

It is a mistake to view answering this question as needing to make one choice over another.
It's also a mistake to view this koan from the point that one is a man hanging in a tree over a precipe.
That itself is a mental operation by which the koan loses its effectivity.
lindama wrote:
Wed May 29, 2019 4:16 am

"If the man in the tree does not answer, he fails; and if he does answer, he falls and loses his life. Now what shall he do?"
This is dying beyond death, the death that grants eternity. What Grace to fall, to fail completely! What enormous silence!
viewtopic.php?f=6&p=14024#p13953
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

Spike
Posts: 297
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:35 am

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by Spike » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:33 pm

fuki wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 12:41 pm
It's also a mistake to view this koan from the point that one is a man hanging in a tree over a precipe.
That itself is a mental operation by which the koan loses its effectivity.
I think the point of putting the student in the position of adopting the 'man in the tree' persona is to show the impossibility of choice (mental operation). Using mental operations to try to solve koans is problematic or mistaken.

A student will never "pass" mu koan via mental operation!

Note also the reference to Bodhidharma. He is legendarily known for practicing zazen.

User avatar
fuki
Posts: 2492
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2017 12:02 am
Location: Zandvoort, The Netherlands

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by fuki » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:54 pm

Spike wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:33 pm


I think the point of putting the student in the position of adopting the 'man in the tree' persona is to show the impossibility of choice (mental operation). Using mental operations to try to solve koans is problematic or mistaken.

A student will never "pass" mu koan via mental operation!

Note also the reference to Bodhidharma. He is legendarily known for practicing zazen.
:cat:
meldpunt seksueel misbruik in boeddhistische gemeenschappen.
https://meldpuntbg.nl/

IZIhttp://www.zeninstitute.org/en/iziae/main.html

User avatar
clyde
Site Admin
Posts: 386
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:08 am
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by clyde » Sun Jun 02, 2019 6:40 pm

“This case is about your inherent freedom. If you are free and unbound by words or actions, silence or speech, then no matter what you say or do, you will not be fooled by Chan master Xiangyan’s blabbering nonsense.”
- Passing Through the Gateless Barrier, Guo Gu
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”

User avatar
clyde
Site Admin
Posts: 386
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:08 am
Location: Sacramento, CA
Contact:

Re: Mumonkan Case 5

Post by clyde » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:43 pm

"The fruit of practice isn't the conceptual understanding of something, or an experience of something; it’s a feeling we have for life; a way we live our life; and even though zen is zen and we all come to see the same thing about our life through the practice, it really is unique for each one of us because each of us is living out a different dilemma."
Mumonkan Case 5, Zoketsu Norman Fisher
“Enlightenment means to see what harm you are involved in and to renounce it.” David Brazier, The New Buddhism

“The most straightforward advice on awakening enlightened mind is this: practice not causing harm to anyone—yourself or others—and every day, do what you can to be helpful.” Pema Chodron, “What to Do When the Going Gets Rough”

Post Reply