The Three Barriers of Tosotsu

Tosotsu built three barriers and made the monks pass through them: The first barrier is studying Zen. In studying Zen the aim is to see your own true nature. Now where is your true nature?

Secondly, when you realise your own true nature, you will be free from birth and death. When you shut the light from your eyes and become a corpse, how can you free yourself?

Thirdly, if you have freed yourself from birth and death, you should know where you are. When your body disintegrates into the four elements, where are you?

This koan asks the basic questions of Zen: what is your true nature; how can you be free; and where are you? The questions are also the basic questions of life. If one wishes to live a meaningful, peaceful, and happy life, one must find the answers. Zen is not apart from practical daily life. It teaches how to live by finding the real self. To study Zen is to study self: "What am I."


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