(...) I was astounded to find that no reviews have been posted of this book. As the book jacket says, "The Gateless Barrier is generally acknowledged to be the fundamental koan collection in the literature of Zen."
These forty-eight koans were gathered together and supplied with commentary by the thirteenth-century Chinese master Wu-men. Leading off with Chao-Chu's famous Dog koan (Mu), these forty-eight "fingers pointing at the moon" are basic building blocks of Zen training.
American Zen master Robert Aitken has freshly translated Wu-men's text and supplied his own commentary, the first by a western master. Drawing on his own experiences as a student and teacher of Zen, as well as his extensive knowledge of the Zen literature, Aitken-roshi's commentary brings the reader deeper into each koan; rather than "explaining" or "solving", his words open each koan as a living question applicable and relevant to contemporary life.
Both Chinese and Japanese names are used throughout, and Aitken uses anecdotes from many original sources to breathe life into the ancient worthies whose koans have perplexed centuries of Zen students. You will find yourself perusing the bibliography and footnotes regularly, and if you're like me, anxious to get your hands on The Blue Cliff Record (another koan collection) and some of the other works Aitken refers to.