Today we will complete our Examination of The Hsin Hsin Ming – Verses on the Faith Mind by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, the Third Zen Patriarch.
Lets jump right in:
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached,
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider movement stationary
and the stationary in motion,
both movement and rest disappear.
When we truly know who and what we are, we realize that the Truth of our being is beyond words, beyond the human mind’s comprehension. Everything which is uniquely human, the concept of time, for example, disappears when we finally dwell in this incomparable Truth.
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage:
Nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
The first part of this verse really stumped me. I read a half-dozen different interpretations of The Hsin Hsin Ming and only two of them alluded to this idea that in non-duality, Oneness would cease to exist. In carefully reading the other interpretations and drawing my own conclusions, it appears to me that what was meant is that Oneness, as understood by the human mind, ceases to exist, just as everything which can be understood by the human mind ceases to exist, once this state of complete surrender is reached. It is the only conclusion which makes sense to me, because certainly Chien-chih Seng-ts’an can not mean to imply that Oneness no longer exists to the individual who no longer follows the rules of dualism. I think we will see confirmation of this understanding in the next few verses:
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling,
knowledge and imagination are of no value.
Since any idea of Oneness could only possibly be understood, by the human mind, as an opposite of separateness, this idea would cease to exist once the mind, which could conceive of separateness, disappeared. In other words, there could be no idea of Oneness without an opposing idea of separateness. Since no such idea would exist in the individual who transcended beyond any and all ideas created by the human mind, it could not exist.
In this world of suchness
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just say when doubt rises “not two”.
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension
or diminution in time and space:
In it a single thought is ten thousand years.
Enlightenment is simply movement, of the Self, beyond the restraints of the mind which maintains self-identity. It is a realization that the Truth of who and what we are cannot be understood by the same mind which entertains thought. An enlightened individual dwells in such an Awareness without the limitation of thought.
but the infinite universe
stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being and non-Being.
Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments
That have nothing to do with this.
One thing, all things,
move among and intermingle without distinction.
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
To live in this faith is the road to non-duality,
because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
Perhaps this entire piece could be summarized in this last short verse. The Great Way is beyond words, thoughts, and certainly time, all of which are constructs of the human mind. Enlightenment cannot be defined; it can only be pointed towards. Even the individual who has obtained enlightenment finds definitions to be impossible to write about, to speak about or to teach. Suffice it to say, I have just spent five days attempting to use words to point toward Truth which is beyond words, but such is the challenge inherent to all writings of this nature.
I hope you have enjoyed this dissection of this one interpretation of this profound writing. It has been a labor of love and I know, as well as anyone could, that my thoughts are incomplete and fall well short of any type of conclusive definition. I have posted one other translation of The Hsin Hsin Ming on my Secrets to Peace website and may post a few other translations just for fun.
Thank you for being here and feel free to share your wisdom with me and my readers about this or any of my other writings. I would also welcome suggestions about topics you would like to see me tackle.