hsin hsin ming
verses on the faith-mind
by Sengtan, the third Zen Patriarch
[excerpts] presented for your contemplation:
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
to assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not remain an the dualistic state;
avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not even be attached to this One.
To live in the Great Way
is neither easy nor difficult,
but those with limited views
are fearful and irresolute:
the faster they hurry, the slower they go,
and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way,
and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things (your own nature),
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
If you wish to move in the One Way,
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many;
from the clinging needs of the ignorant,
to seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.
Translated from the Chinese with an introduction by Richard B. Clarke
“What are we to say of a man’s life… of this man’s life and its relevance to us… Sengtsan, called Sosan by the Japanese? That he lived and that he died, and that such and such tales are told of him, and certain words attributed to him. His death is said to have occurred in the year six hundred and six of our counting of time. His birth date is not recorded… who after all was to know… to know what? Tao-shun does not give him a biography, only mentions him. He apparently wandered as a mendicant and during the persecution of Buddhists fled to the mountains. He is said to have been notably kind and gentle and to have come to the dropping away of all bondage and all illusion… with the help of Huike, his teacher, thus realising in himself the fullness of man’s possible light. He became the third Chinese patriarch of Zen and continued a poor wandering monk. Nothing special. And he is said to have written this piece… the Hsinhsinming, perhaps the first Chinese Zen document… tentatively translated below. The title’s first character Hsin shows a man standing by [his?] words and is often translated as faith or trust. The second Hsin depicts a heart and has come to mean heart, mind, soul, etc. and sometimes Buddhanature.