Today we will continue with the third installment of our examination of The Hsin Hsin Ming — Verses on the Faith Mind by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, the Third Zen Patriarch.
Consider this thought:
The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
While there are some occurrences of spontaneous enlightenment, sometimes after traumatic or near-death experiences, most people only become enlightened as a result of letting go of all the meaning assigned to the world of perception. The most common method of obtaining this wisdom is as a result of meditation and complete immersion in silence. Once an individual discovers the Truth found in the “peace which surpasses understanding,” he/she can never look at the world of perception with their pre-understanding eyes again. And while this experience can be impossible to describe within the confines of language, there can never be any doubt as to the Truth which underlies everything in the physical. This Truth exists simultaneously beyond and beneath appearance.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
do not remain in the dualistic state.
Avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace of this and that,
of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend.
And when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.
As we have discussed in one of the previous examinations, the mind which judges as good or bad, right or wrong, etc. is the old mind. Since we spent so many years habitually observing and classifying the world in this old way, it can take considerable effort to dwell in our new-found, present-moment Awareness, even though we have had an experience of enlightenment. We must be ever vigilant to ensure that we do not lapse into our old mind’s behavior, as one judgment can disrupt the calm, peace we enjoy. What is beautiful about this present-moment awareness is that nothing can offend us, because we no longer judge anything as offensive. Simply by removing our reactions to the world, we free ourselves to dwell in perpetual joy.
When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes:
As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because of the subject (mind):
the mind (subject) is such because of things (object).
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
These two verses of the Hsin Hsin Ming describe a natural progression which occurs when we are successful at letting go of the brains tendency to label everything. First, we notice a beautiful peace as we are no longer reacting to the things of the world. Next, we notice that the self which “thinks” no longer exists, as there is no need to use the brain in this manner, when there is nothing to think about. Finally, the self, the small “s” self, which identified itself as a thinker, as a being separate from everything else in the world, vanishes. There is nothing to do and no one to do it. This is the ultimate freedom to which Papaji points in this thought: “Do nothing. Your whole problem is that you continue doing. Stop all your doing. Stop all your beliefs, all your searching, all your excuses, and see for yourself what is already and always here. Don’t move. Don’t move toward anything, and don’t move away from anything. In this instant, be still. “
Both Papaji and Chien-chih Seng-ts’an insist that searching for truth is futile. What is awaiting our discovery and our recognition is that “What is Real does and has always existed” as the Truth from which “all there is” arises. Searching for this Truth only results in frustration, but letting go of everything which is not Real results in an Awareness of Truth, nonetheless.
In closing, I will leave you with the words of Gangaji, Papaji’s student. Ponder these thoughts, which I think fit nicely with the thoughts we have already explored today: “I realized that whatever I thought was always only a thought because it was subject to conditioning and disappearance. In the discovery of truth, thought could no longer be trusted. Thought could no longer be the master. The previous fear of not knowing was transformed into the joy of not knowing. To not know was the opening of my mind to what could not be perceived by thought. What relief! What profound relief.”