Yesterday we examined the first two stanzas of the Hsin Hsin Ming — Verses on the Faith Mind by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, the Third Zen Patriarch. Today we will continue this exploration.
Let’s look at the next two verses of this piece:
The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in inner feelings of emptiness.
Be serene in the oneness of things and such
erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
The life Chien-chih Seng-ts’an urges us to live is the middle way: Not allowing ourselves to be ruled by outer events yet not refusing to engage in life because we are too comfortable in our own inner sanctuary. A life, fully lived, is one that is not dominated by the constant demands of an ego-based determination of what is preferable over what is not, nor is it one where the individual withdraws from all contact with the outer for individually justified reasons.
I read these words, yesterday, after posting the first Secret in this series, but I think it still fits in with today’s reading, so consider these words from A Course in Miracles: “The world we see merely reflects our own internal frame of reference –– the dominant ideas, wishes and emotions in our minds. ‘Projection makes perception.’ We look inside first, decide the kind of world we want to see and then project that world outside, making it the truth as we see it. We make it true by our interpretations of what it is we are seeing. If we are using perception to justify our own mistakes –– our anger, our impulses to attack, our lack of love in whatever form it may take –– we will see a world of evil, destruction, malice, envy and despair. All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being “good” and “charitable,” but because what we are seeing is not true. We have distorted the world by our twisted defenses, and are therefore seeing what is not there. As we learn to recognize our perpetual errors, we also learn to look past them or “forgive.” At the same time we are forgiving ourselves, looking past our distorted self – concepts to the Self that God created in us and as us.”
Doesn’t that fit nicely with yesterday’s discussion, while still being applicable to today’s reading?
Moving on we read:
When you try to stop activity by passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other
you will never know Oneness.
Living in the middle way means we give up the need to control our life experience. We do not try to only “BE” nor do we try to “DO” in an effort to create the outcome we seek. We live a life of balance, with time for simply Being and time for Doing. The middle way is all about balance.
Next we read:
Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things
is to miss their reality;
To assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.
In metaphysical circles we frequently hear the words “the world is merely illusion.” This is often interpreted to mean that nothing is real, everything is our own creation. But I would suggest that this interpretation of this statement is not fully correct. The world is illusory because we believe ourselves to be separate from everything we see, when in Truth we are One with everything. In fact, there is only ONE. There is no separate you and me, there is only the ONE manifesting as an aspect of itself “me” and an aspect of itself “you.” The belief in separateness creates all of our problems; for once we see and know the Truth of our Oneness we cannot possibly hate or hurt another.
Again, I look to A Course in Miracles for a good explanation of the illusory nature of the world which our senses tells us is real: “In the realm of knowledge no thoughts exist apart from God, because God and his Creation share one Will. The world of perception, however, is made by the belief in opposites and separate wills, in perpetual conflict with each other and with God. What perception sees and hears appears to be real because it permits into awareness only what conforms to the wishes of the perceiver. This leads to a world of illusions, a world which needs constant defense precisely because it is not real.”
To me, this writing and the Hsin Hsin Ming state that the reason we cannot trust the world we perceive, with our five senses, is not because this world is not real, it is because we project our truth on the world we see instead of “feeling” what is real.
I will close, for today, with one more thought from A Course in Miracles which I feel parallels perfectly with the Hsin Hsin Ming, and it is that Truth, capital “T” Truth never changes. If we need one simple test for what is Real and what is illusion, as in the case of evaluating everything physical (which is constantly changing), all we need do is recognize that what is Real (Truth) never changes. The fact that we are ONE is a constant, therefore it is Truth. Egoic creation changes daily, sometimes hourly, therefore it is illusion.
In my reading of the Hsin Hsin Ming, I feel that Chien-chih Seng-ts’an would agree wholeheartedly with this definition if he alive to discuss this with us.
Tomorrow we will continue this examination. If you have insight into these writing and would like to share your thoughts, I am perfectly willing to listen with an open heart and open ears.