Getsuan said to his students: “Keichu, the first wheel-maker of China, made two wheels of fifty spokes each. Now, suppose you removed the nave uniting the spokes. What would become of the wheel? And had Keichu done this, could he be called the master wheel-maker?”
Mumon’s comment: If anyone can answer this question instantly, his eyes will be like a comet and his mind like a flash of lightning.
When the hubless wheel turns,
Master or no master can stop it.
It turns above heaven and below earth,
South, north, east, and west.
Getsuan is Rep and Senzaki’s transliteration. Sekida and Yamada call him Gettan.
The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen says Gatsurin or Getsurin. Whichever way you pronounce it it is as irrelevant as the axle being removed in this koan. Remove the axle and the cart is useless or rather the cart has lost its essence. That is the point of the koan though. What is left is Emptiness. But to see that Emptiness as Emptiness that is another thing. That is called Enlightenment, something which I do not have. And all I have shown here, much to my regret, is the ordinary of kind emptiness called intellect or concept.
1 thought on “Keichu’s Wheel”
I had a been a practicing meditation for some years when I came across this koan. I had never heard of the gateless gate. When I first read the gateless gate I skimmed through the different koans and came to this one. As I was relaxed I just read the words as they appeared on the page. My mind flashed like lightening as I understood its true meaning and I realized the skillful technique employed by the author to open up the mind. To answer this koan is to deny others the chance to do so. When the mind is ready it will open of its own accord. Do not delay the practice of meditation.