Master Seng-ts’an: The Oneness of Things

On Believing in Mind*

The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
Except that it refuses to make preference:
Only when freed from hate and love,
It reveals itself fully and without disguise.

A tenth of an inch’s difference,
And heaven and earth are set apart:
If you want to see it manifest,
Take no thought either for or against it.

To set up what you like against what you dislike –
This is the disease of the mind:
When the deep meaning [of the Way] is not understood
Peace of mind is disturbed and nothing is gained.

[The Way is] perfect like unto vast space,
With nothing wanting, nothing superfluous:
It is indeed due to making choice
That its suchness is lost sight of.

Pursue not the outer entanglements,
Dwell not in the inner void;
When the mind rests serene in the oneness of things,
The dualism vanishes by itself.

*The opening verses of Hsin-hsin Ming, a poem by the Chan master Seng-ts’an (d. 606) translated by D. T. Suzuki.  Little is known about the early life of Seng-ts’an.  It is recorded that, when he was forty, he came to the patriarch Hui-k’o, and said, “I am suffering from a mortal illness.  Please cleanse me of my sins.”  The patriarch replied, “Bring your sins here and I will cleanse you of them.”  Seng-ts’an sat in silence for a while and then said, “Although I’ve looked for my sins, I can’t find them.”  The patriarch said, “In that case I’ve already thoroughly wiped away your sins. You should live in accordance with Buddha, dharma, and sangha [spiritual community].”

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