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Hsin Hsin Ming: On Trust in the Heart

Attributed to Sent-ts'an - The third Patriarch of the Dhyana Sect


Translated by Arthur Waley

The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;
Do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear.
Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart;
If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against.
The struggle between "for" and "against" is the mind's worst disease;
While the deep meaning is misunderstood, it is useless to meditate on Rest.
It [the Buddha-nature] is blank and featureless as space; it has no "too little" or "too much;"
Only because we take and reject does it seem to us not to be so.
Do not chase after Entanglements as though they were real things,
Do not try to drive pain away by pretending that it is not real;
Pain, if you seek serenity in Oneness, will vanish of its own accord.
Stop all movement in order to get rest, and rest will itself be restless;
Linger over either extreme, and Oneness is for ever lost.
Those who cannot attain to Oneness in either case will fail:
To banish Reality is to sink deeper into the Real;
Allegiance to the Void implies denial of its voidness.
The more you talk about It, the more you think about It, the further from It you go;
Stop talking, stop thinking, and there is nothing you will not understand.
Return to the Root and you will find the Meaning;
Pursue the Light, and you wi11 lose its source,
Look inward, and in a flash you will conquer the Apparent and the Void.
For the whirligigs of Apparent and Void all come from mistaken views;
There is no need to seek Truth; only stop having views.
Do not accept either position [Assertion and Negation], examine it or pursue it;
At the least thought of "Is" and "Isn't" there is chaos and the Mind is lost.
Though the two exist because of the One, do not cling to the One;
Only when no thought arises are the Dharmas without blame.
No blame, no Dharmas; no arising, not thought.
The doer vanishes along with the deed,
The deed disappears when the doer is annihilated.
The deed has no function apart from the doer;
The doer has no function apart from the deed.
The ultimate Truth about both Extremes is that they are One Void.
In that One Void the two are not distinguished;
Each contains complete within itself the Ten Thousand Forms.
Only if we boggle over fine and coarse are we tempted to take sides.
In its essence the Great Way is all embracing;
It is as wrong to call it easy as to call it hard.
Partial views are irresolute and insecure,
Now at a gallop, now lagging in the rear.
Clinging to this or to that beyond measure
The heart trusts to bypaths that lead it astray.
Let things take their own course; know that the Essence will neither go nor stay;
Let your nature blend with the Way and wander in it free from care.
Thoughts that are fettered turn from Truth,
Sink into the unwise habit of "not liking."
"Not liking" brings weariness of spirit; estrangements serve no purpose.
If you want to follow the doctrine of the One, do not rage against the World of the Senses.
Only by accepting the World of the Senses can you share in the True Perception.
Those who know most, do least; folly ties its own bonds.
In the Dharma there are no separate dharmas, only the foolish cleave
To their own preferences and attachments.
To use Thought to devise thoughts, what more misguided than this?
Ignorance creates Rest and Unrest; Wisdom neither loves nor hates.
All that belongs to the Two Extremes is inference falsely drawn-
A dream-phantom, a flower in the air. Why strive to grasp it in the hand?
"Is" and "Isn't," gain and loss banish once for all:
If the eyes do not close in sleep there can be no evil dreams;
If the mind makes no distinctions all Dharmas become one.
Let the One with its mystery blot out all memory of complications.
Let the thought of the Dharmas as All-One bring you to the So-in-itself.
Thus their origin is forgotten and nothing is left to make us pit one against the other.
Regard motion as though it were stationary, and what becomes of motion?
Treat the stationary as though it moved, and that disposes of the stationary.
Both these having thus been disposed of, what becomes of the One?
At the ultimate point, beyond which you can go no further,
You get to where there are no rules, no standards,
To where thought can accept Impartiality,
To where effect of action ceases,
Doubt is washed away, belief has no obstacle.
Nothing is left over, nothing remembered;
Space is bright, but self-illumined; no power of mind is exerted.
Nor indeed could mere thought bring us to such a place.
Nor could sense or feeling comprehend it.
It is the Truly-so, the Transcendent Sphere, where there is neither He nor I.
For swift converse with this sphere use the concept "Not Two;"
In the "Not Two" are no separate things, yet all things are included.
The wise throughout the Ten Quarters have had access to this Primal Truth;
For it is not a thing with extension in Time or Space;
A moment and an aeon for it are one.
Whether we see it for fail to see it, it is manifest always and everywhere.
The very small is as the very large when boundaries are forgotten;
The very large is as the very small when its outlines are not seen.
Being is an aspect of Non-being; Non-being is an aspect of Being.
In climes of thought where it is not so the mind does ill to dwell.
The One is none other than the All, the All none other than the One.
Take your stand on this, and the rest will follow of its own accord;
To trust in the Heart is the Not Two, the Not Two is to trust in the Heart.
I have spoken, but in vain; for what can words tell
Of things that have no yesterday, tomorrow or today?

Takakusu XLVIII, 376.


Source: Buddhist Texts Through the Ages, Edward Conze (ed.). New York: Philosophical Library, 1954, pp. 296-298.

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Last modified: November 16, 2003

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