Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seng-Ts'an: The Hsin-Hsin Ming

Seng-Ts'an: The Hsin-Hsin Ming
by Scott Bradley


This first Zen poem was purportedly written by Seng-ts'an, the third patriarch. What first attracted me to it was Alan Watt's comment that it was a "thoroughly Taoist document." It was written at a time when the vocabulary of Buddhism had not yet supplanted that of Taoism. There is no mention of Buddha, nirvana, samsara, and the rest. Ironically, the scholarly studies of the poem that I have been able to find have mostly been attempts to translate the Chinese terminology into sanskrit!

Here are some excerpts that speak to me (Richard Clarke, trans.):
If you wish to know the truth,
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.

Do not seek the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
there is no objection to anything in the world.

The arising of other gives rise to self;
giving rise to self generates other.

When in harmony with the nature of things,
your own fundamental nature,
you will walk freely and undisturbed.

If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to embrace them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.

Gain and loss, right and wrong;
finally abandon all such thoughts at once.

When you live this non-separation,
all things manifest the One, and nothing is excluded.

All duality is falsely imagined. (another version)

Each thing reveals the One,
the One manifests as all things.
To live in this realization
is not to worry about perfection or non-perfection.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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