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introduction to Buddhism and its permutations

'on faith of the heart'


By Sosan, the third Chinese Zen patriarch (d. 606 CE). Translated by the Venerable Myokyo-ni. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the two translations by D T Suzuki and R H Blyth, without which the present translation would not have been undertaken.


The Great Way is not difficult
It only avoids picking and choosing
When there is neither hate nor lust
It shines forth in full radiance.
A hairs breath from faltering from it
Rends heaven and earth apart.
If you want to behold it directly
Cease from having opinions about it.
The conflict of longing and loathing -
This is the disease of the heart.
When the profound meaning is understood
Your striving for peace is in vain.
Perfect and complete like Great Space
There is nothing lacking, nothing superfluous.
Because of holding and rejecting
The suchness of things is missed.
Do not pursue outside entanglements
Nor dwell in the inner void.
If peace pervades all thoughts,
False views disappear of themselves.
Stopping movement to be still
Only furthers activity.
Obstructed by either,
How can you know ONE?
Without knowing One,
Both (activity and stillness) are false achievement.
Forgetting things, you go along with them;
Chasing the void, you stray from it.
The more of talking and thinking,
The more astray you go.
Returning to the root, you gain the meaning;
Following forms, you loose the wholeness.
A moment's true insight
Transcends the emptiness in front.
Changes in the emptiness that confronts you
Appear all because of delusion.
Do not seek for the truth,
Only cease to cherish opinions.
Stay not with the relative view of things,
Firmly resist to go along with it.
In even a trace of this and that
Confusion ensues and the heart is lost.
The two arise from the one,
But do not cling to the One either!
When the heart is at one, dwelling on nothing,
The ten thousand things do not obstruct.
When not obstructing, they cease to exist.
And dwelling on nothing, there is no heart either.
When no things arise, the subject is quiet;
The subject is quiet, things follow its calm.
For things are things because of the subject,
The subject is subject because of things.
Do you wish to know what these two are?
They are originally one emptiness.
In the one emptiness these two are not separated,
Each contains itself and the ten thousand things.
When no discrimination is made between coarse and fine,
How can one-sided views arise?
The Great Way is calm and large-hearted,
For it nothing is easy, nothing is hard.
Small views are full of foxy fears,
The more in haste, the slower it goes.
To cling is to loose the balance,
Which surely leads us astray.
Set free, all is as it is,
At rest, neither going or staying:
Obeying nature you are in accord with the Way,
Roaming freely without let or hindrance.
Thoughts that are not tied, turn from the truth,
Are submerged in darkness, all wrong.
When they are all wrong, the spirit is troubled,
What use then of holding on to this or that?
If you wish to ride in the One Vehicle,
Do not dislike the Six Dusts (Six Sense Objects).
Not disliking the Six Dusts
Equals enlightenment.
The wise do not interfere,
The fool obstructs himself.
In the Dharma there are no distinctions;
These arise only from clinging to this or that.
The heart itself creates its delusions,
Is this not the greatest of all mistakes?
In delusion are notions of rest and motion,
Awakened there is neither liking nor loathing.
All pairs of opposites
Are the product of our own folly.
Dreams, delusions, flowers in the empty air,
Why trouble to lay hold of them?
Gain and loss, right and wrong,
Throw them out in one sweep.
If the eye does not sleep,
Dreams cease of themselves!
If the heart does not discriminate,
The ten thousand things are as they are.
In the deep mystery of this One Suchness
You are released from your entanglements.
If the ten thousand things are seen thus,
They return to their own nature.
No pictures are possible
Where all relations have ceased.
Movement stopped and then there is rest,
Rest set in motion and there is movement.
When both cease to be,
How can the One abide?
In their furthest reach, ultimately,
Things are not bound by rules and measures.
If the heart is in accord with what is,
All single strivings have ceased,
All doubts are cleared up,
Thus faith is confirmed;
Nothing remains,
Nothing need be remembered.
Empty, clear, self-illuminating,
The heart does not waste its energy.
Thoughts cannot reach there,
Nor knowledge fathom it.
In the realm of the real
There is neither self nor other;
If you wish to be in direct accord with it,
All that can be said is 'Not Two'.
Being 'Not Two', all things are the same,
There is nothing excluded.
The enlightened ones of all times and places
Have one and all entered into this truth.
Truth can neither be increased nor decreased,
In it, an instant of thought lasts ten thousand years.
Whether you see it or not,
It is everywhere before your eyes.
The smallest is the same as the largest;
Deception cease in this realm.
The largest is the same as the smallest;
There are no boundaries to be seen.
What is, is not;
What is not, is.
Unless you truly have understood this,
You must not tarry in what seems.
One in All,
All in One.
If this is seen clearly,
No need to worry about being perfect.
The faithful heart is not divided,
Not split in two are faith and heart.
Words fail,
For here have ceased to be
Today, tomorrow, yesterday.

This is the full and complete version of which parts only appeared in the Aug. '98 issue of The Middle Way. This issue May '99 Vol. 74 No. 1


Both (activity and stillness) are false achievement. Forgetting things, you go along with them; Chasing the void, you stray from it. The more of talking and thinking, The more astray you go.

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