Early Zen Poetry of Seng-ts'an
lived in the late sixth century, was the third patriarch of Zen in China. There
are many legends about him. According to one, Seng-ts'an was suffering from leprosy
when he met the second patriarch Hui-k'o, who encountered him with the words,
"You're suffering from leprosy; what could you want from me?" Seng-ts'an
is supposed to have replied, "Even if my body is sick, the heart-mind of
a sick person is no different from you heart-mind." This convinced Hui-k'o
of the spiritual capacity of Seng-ts'an; he accepted him as a student and later
confirmed him as his dharma successor.
The poem that follows, introduced to
me by Christina Wheeler, is the earliest known fusion of the mutually congenial
teachings of Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism.
(The above is taken from The Encyclopedia
of Eastern Philosophy and Religion. Shambhala, Boston. 1994. What appears below
is from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry. Edited by Stephen
Mitchell. Harper and Row, NY. 1989
The Mind of Absolute Trust
great way isn't difficult for those who are unattached to their preferences.
go of longing and aversion, and everything will be perfectly clear.
cling to a hairbreadth of distinction, heaven and earth are set apart.
you want to realize the truth, don't be for or against.
The struggle between
good and evil is the primal disease of the mind.
Not grasping the deeper meaning,
you just trouble your minds serenity.
As vast as infinite space, it is perfect
and lacks nothing.
But because you select and reject, you can't perceive its
Don't get entangled in the world; don't lose yourself in emptiness.
Be at peace in the oneness of things, and all errors will disappear by themselves.
If you don't live the Tao, you fall into assertion or denial.
that the world is real, you are blind to its deeper reality;
the world is real, you are blind to the selflessness of all things.
you think about these matters, the farther you are from the truth.
from all thinking, and there is nowhere you can't go.
Returning to the root,
you find the meaning;
chasing appearances, you lose there source.
moment of profound insight, you transcend both appearance and emptiness.
keep searching for the truth; just let go of your opinions.
For the mind in
harmony with the Tao, all selfishness disappears.
With not even a trace of
self-doubt, you can trust the universe completely.
All at once you are free,
with nothing left to hold on to.
All is empty, brilliant, perfect in its own
In the world of things as they are, there is no self, no non self.
If you want to describe its essence, the best you can say is "Not-two."
In this "Not-two" nothing is separate, and nothing in the world
The enlightened of all times and places have entered into this
In it there is no gain or loss; one instant is ten thousand years.
There is no here, no there; infinity is right before your eyes.
is as large as the vast when objective boundaries have vanished;
is as small as the tiny when you don't have external limits.
Being is an aspect
of non-being; non-being is no different from being.
Until you understand this
truth, you won't see anything clearly.
One is all; all are one. When you realize
this, what reason for holiness or wisdom?
The mind of absolute trust is beyond
all thought, all striving,
is perfectly at peace, for in it there is no yesterday,
no today, no tomorrow.