Zen Master Hongzhi:
The Ancient Ferryboat in Bright Moonlight
A patch-robed monk’s authentic task is to practice the essence, in each minute event carefully discerning the shining source, radiant without discrimination, one color unstained. You must keep turning inwards, then [the source] is apprehended. This is called being able to continue the family business. Do not wear the changing fashions, transcend the duality of light and shadow. Accordingly the ancestors’ single trail is marvelously embodied. The residual debris of the world departs, its influence ended. This worldly knowledge does not compare to returning to the primary and obtaining confirmation. Observing beyond your skull, the core finally can be fulfilled and you can emerge from the transitory. The reeds blossom under the bright moon; the ancient ferryboat begins its passage; the jade thread fits into the golden needle. Then the opportunity arises to turn around, enter the world, and respond to conditions. All the dusts are entirely yours; all the dharmas are not someone else’s. Follow the current and paddle along, naturally unobstructed!
So much of Master Hongzhi’s teachings are full of images that invite us to leave thinking and to allow ourselves to be pulled into the stream of Eternal. I started reading these teachings, almost poems, close to three years ago and this passage above is the first one I stayed with for a longer period. Reading it now I notice other aspects I had not even seen before. In this sense I encourage the reader to approach these poems with the attitude of discovery and the sentiment of awe.