The <i>Wu-men kuan</i> (J. <i>Mumonkan</i>)

Ishii Shūdō and Albert Welter

Edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright

in The Zen Canon

Published in print May 2004 | ISBN: 9780195150674
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784615 | DOI:
 The Wu-men kuan (J. Mumonkan)

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This chapter examines the Wu-men kuan, one of the most widely read Zen texts in the canon. This text offers 48 kung-an or koan cases that have been significant in Zen practice since the late Sung. Ishii’s essay seeks to trace the development of this text and its genre to the Tsung-men t’ung-yao chi and other earlier Zen sources. The essay seeks to understand why this text was favored so prominently in Japan, and how its structural features relate to the context of Sung dynasty Chan textual history.

Keywords: Tsung-men t’ung-yao chi; Wu-men kuan; Mumonkan; koan; kung-an

Chapter.  16240 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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