Nonduality Salon (/ \)

Early Zen Poetry of Seng-ts'an

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

The great way isn't difficult for those who are unattached to their preferences.

Let go of longing and aversion, and everything will be perfectly clear.

When you cling to a hairbreadth of distinction, heaven and earth are set apart.

If 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 true nature.

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.

Asserting that the world is real, you are blind to its deeper reality;

denying that the world is real, you are blind to the selflessness of all things.

The more you think about these matters, the farther you are from the truth.

Step aside 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.

At the moment of profound insight, you transcend both appearance and emptiness.

Don't 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 being.

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 is excluded.

The enlightened of all times and places have entered into this truth.

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.

The tiny is as large as the vast when objective boundaries have vanished;

the vast 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.


Nondual poetry of Walt Whitman   |   R.J. Campbell






 

Nonduality Salon (/ \)