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Hsin-hsin Ming

A free version of the text by the
Third Patriach of Ch'an
Seng-ts'an
Translated by SPA

The Way is not hard
Once that is realised
By seeking no more
All can be known

The slightest desire
A chasm appears
For truth to emerge
Stop 'for' or 'against'

Like versus dislike
Is sickness of mind
Not knowing that
Stillness eludes

Wholeness like space
Lacks nothing, adds nothing
In wanting some thing
That you wont see

Neither tangled without
Nor confounded within
Be still, be one
Opposites will go

But try to be still
Stillness keeps moving
By holding to one
How can you know One?

Not knowing Oneness
Is living in twoness
Denying our being
For empty pursuits

In thought and in talk
We fumble our way
By knowing the mind
What cannot be known?

Return to source
Stop chasing appearance
Focus the heart
Where empty is full
(When empty takes form
Appearance returns)

Without seeking that
Relinquish all views
Or battles are fought
Don't go this way

The merest opinion
Mind gets ensnared
One becomes two
Stay One without two

In Oneness is stillness
Then who is to blame?
No blame, no thoughts
No thinking, no mind

No object, no seer
No seer, no world
Related in form
As 'this' is to 'that'

To understand two
Turn towards source
To One without two
Essence of all

Without separation
No 'for' or 'against'
The Great Way invites
Not easy, not hard

Be wary of doubt
Too fast, you may fall
Craving too much
Will lead you astray

Pause in the moment
What comes? What goes?
Attuned in this way
In stillness abide

Thoughts obscure truth
As clouds mask the sun
The mind set adrift
Seeks to gain hold

To live the One Way
Engage in the world
In absence of judgment
Duality dissolves

Act with detachment
Or else remain bound
In so much appearance
What can be perceived?

Grappling with reason
Leads to confusion
A movement and rest
At odds with the One

Indulging our views
Entertains fancies
Illusions and hopes
Futile to grasp

Right against wrong
Why stifle the mind?
With vigilant 'I'
Abandon such thought

If mind remains clear
Such is the essence
Understand that
And freedom is yours

A clarity in seeing
A return to what 'is'
Beginningless, endless
Nothing between

Stay still. What moves?
Move. What rests?
Such merging of concepts
Where is the One?

Investigate that
In clearness of mind
The impartial witness
Nor striving to seek

Without the illusion
Truth remains firm
With nothing to grasp
Freedom prevails

Self sustains Self
Empty of mind
Thoughts come and go
Just let them be.

Reality as such
No self, no other
Return to the Oneness
In the knowledge 'not two'

As with perfection
With nothing amiss
This ocean of truth
Where all streams converge

Or a point within space
Or a moment in time
Not here, nor there
Everywhere! Nowhere!

Free from all opposites
In limitless form
A sea without shore
No boundaries divide

Being - non being
Both aspects of One
Other than that...
Let go the mind

One is in all
All is in One
Know that as 'That'
Worry no more.

'Trust in the Mind'?
'The Mind of Trust'?
What use are such words
In the absence of time?




A guide to the meaning of 'Hsin-hsin Ming'.

Hsin means 'belief' or 'faith', though not in the ordinary sense. Rather a Knowing that emerges from direct experience with our true nature, which is not separate from the One essence out of which all phenomena manifests.

Hsin literally means 'heart', but also refers to that 'mind' which merges with the all-encompassing One Mind.

Ming translates as 'inscription', or a written expression or record.

Hsin-hsin Ming is therefore often translated as: 'Faith Mind Inscription' or something in a similar vein.

Composed by Chien-chih Seng-ts'an in the 6th century, the Hsin-hsin Ming is one of the earliest Zen writings and often referred to as the first Zen poem. As with the original, this version comprises 146 unrhymed verses.


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