Mumonkan, Case 47: Tosotsu’s Three Barriers

Teisho presented by Arno Hess on 23/10/2021 at the 2021 Pathway Zen Sesshin at Highfields, QLD, Australia.


Master Tosotsu Etsu set up three barriers and asked his students:
“The purpose of making one’s way through grasses and asking a master about the subtle truth is
only to realize one’s self-nature. Now, you venerable monks, where is your self-nature at this very
“When you have attained your self-nature, you can free yourself from life-and-death. How will you
free yourself from life-and-death when the light of your eyes is falling to the ground?”
“When you have freed yourself from life-and-death, you know where to go. After your four
elements have decomposed, where will you go?”

Mumon’s Commentary

If you can say three turning words about these barriers, you will be the master wherever you
may be, in close contact with the real essence in all situations. If you have not yet reached
this stage, gulping down your food will fill you up quickly, while chewing well will make it
more difficult to become hungry again.


In one consciousness, we see the whole of eternity;
Eternity is nothing other than right now.
If you see through this one consciousness at this moment,
You see through the one who is seeing right now.

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