Chinese Poetry, Chinese Texts, Poetry

The Hsin Hsin Ming

The Hsin Hsin Ming, known as the Shinjinmei in Japan, is attributed to Master Sengcan (Kanchi Sosan in Japanese), the third ancestor in China. One of the earliest Zen teaching poems from China, the Hsin Hsin Ming emphasizes that the Great Way is not involved in the game of opposites, and that in order to understand the truth, we have to become aware of our choosing, discriminating minds. 

 

Hsin Hsin Ming (extract)

The Great Way is not difficult,
Just don’t pick and choose.
If you cut off all likes or dislikes
Everything is clear like space.

Make the slightest distinction
And heaven and earth are set apart.
If you wish to see the truth,
Don’t think for or against.

Likes and dislikes
Are the mind’s disease.
Without understanding the deep meaning
You cannot still your thoughts.

It is clear like space,
Nothing missing, nothing extra.
If you want something
You cannot see things as they are.

Outside, don’t get tangled in things.
Inside, don’t get lost in emptiness.
Be still and become One
And all opposites disappear.

If you stop moving to become still,
This stillness always moves.
If you hold on to opposites,
How can you know One?

If you don’t understand One,
This and that cannot function.
Denied, the world asserts itself.
Pursued, emptiness is lost.

The more you think and talk,
The more you lose the Way.
Cut off all thinking
And pass freely anywhere.

 

Jianzhi Sengcan (496-606)

 

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