Date: 04-11-08 21:47
I just finished re-reading ŸoéTêP (translated by some as Gateless Gate). I first read that when I was quite young and was seriously sick for the first time. I found it soothing and freeing at the time. The latest revisit (reading for pleasure) brought me the same but that's not what I want to write about this evening.
無門關 is of course one of the seminal works in Chan Buddism (Zen, in Japan) along with 碧巖錄 and 從容録.
This last time reading it I was struck by the number of familiar Chinese phrases in the 48 cases (of Koan) in Gateless Gate. Phrases that Chinese people use day in and day out. Phrases whose origins are mostly lost in the mist until, of course, we see them again in an ancient work, as in Gateless Gate. Given that the book was written seven hundred years ago in Sung Dynasty, many of these familiar phrases might have originated in that narrative. All the more so, Gateless Gate being a highly orginal work. Of course they might have deeper roots still, but at least the text would have helped popularize these phrases. The point I am trying to make here is this: while only some of us are Buddhists and fewer still Zen Buddhists, our language is laced with their these pearls of wisdom (wisecracks in many cases.) Here are some of them:
癡人面前 不可説夢 (case 4)
來説是非者 便是是非人 (case 18)
若無閑事挂心頭 更是人間好時節 (19)
聞名不如見面 見面不如聞名 (28)
要識眞金、火裏看 (20) etc. etc...
I am simply struck by the preponderance. Our lives have been quietly suffused with these phrases and outlook without our knowing. Such is the peculiarity and joy of having sprung from an ancient and continuous culture. It is up to us to rediscover those gems and reclaim, sometimes, our lost calm.
[Moderator: The Chinese font has been converted to unicode for general viewing.]