The Best Season of Your Life

These words of wisdom from Wumen touched me the moment I read them. He was the compiler or and commenter on the Mumonkan (The Gateless Barrier) – a collection of 48 koans – stories, dialogues, questions or statements used to trigger enlightenment in Zen Buddhism and Chan Buddhism.

This was one of the first books I bought when I decided to study and practice Zen meditation more than 30 years ago.

As we enter the month of March, we can look forward to the vernal equinox on the 20th. I can’t believe the winter went by so fast!

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
– Wumen


Wumen was given the koan, “Does a dog have Buddhanature?” This is perhaps the most famous koan. He work on this koan for six years and finally solved it. Then he was given lamp transmission in the Linji (Lin Chi) lineage, the same lineage as Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. He wrote

A thunderclap under the clear blue sky
All beings on earth open their eyes.
Everything under heaven bows together,
Mount Sumeru leaps up and dances.

The Gateless Barrier: The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan), p 4.

When we enter the gateless gate, we leave all our sorrows behind. Through this gate, we realize what all the masters have been trying to teach us for thousands of years. We enter the ultimate dimension, the “Kingdom of God,” the “Pure Land” of the Buddha. We are happy and content with our lives, just as it is.

What is your koan in your life? Have you made progress solving it? Please share your results like Wumen did.

This book by Robert Aiken Roshi is full of wonderful stories.

Books by Wumen

The Gateless Barrier: The Wu-Men Kuan (Mumonkan)


The Gateless Barrier is generally acknowledged to be the fundamental koan collection in the literature of Zen. Gathered together by Wu-men (Mumon), a thirteenth-century master of the Lin-chi (Rinzai) school, it is composed of forty-eight koans, or cases, each accompanied by a brief comm… [Read More…]

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