Trusting the Heart Inscription (Xìn Xīn Míng 信心銘)

Allow me to share this wonderful text attributed to Sēngcàn, the 3rd Chinese Zen Patriarch, who lived in the Sui Dynasty prior to the heyday of Zen, which is generally accepted to have been the Tang & Song Dynasties.  This text has Laozi running all through it.  The Chinese appears to be written for recitation or chanting, however it’s not easy to make the English read smoothly from couplet to couplet.  I’ve done my best and I think it’s good enough.  Wuji & Taiji together: “Not-Two!”

Xin Xin

Bu Er

Accessing Dao is not difficult

just don’t pick & choose

Without like & dislike

the chamber is naturally clear & bright

But make the smallest distinction

and set apart Heaven & Earth

If we wish to perceive the Original

don’t keep for & against

For & against mutually contend

serving to afflict the heart

If we don’t understand this mysterious point

it is futile to seek tranquility

Complete union with supreme emptiness

is without deficiency, without excess

But choose to accept or reject

then it is not so

Do not pursue entanglements

yet don’t dwell stuck in vacuity

Cultivate Oneness with a peaceful heart

thusly obliterating self-exhaustion

Stilling movement to return to stillness

only generates more movement

Only stuck in two sides

we cannot know cultivation of Oneness

Not accessing cultivation of Oneness

dwelling in duality, we forsake merit

Denying existence, we drown in existence

succumbing to vacuity, we get stuck in vacuity

The more we talk, the more we think

the further we wander astray

Cut off talking, cut off thinking

then there is nowhere we cannot access

Return to the root and get the point

but pursue appearance and lose the lineage

In a flash return the radiance

and successfully transcend vacuity

Transcending vacuity, shift & transform

with each & every fantastic appearance

It is no use to seek reality

just wait for appearance to cease

Dwell not in dual appearance

carefully avoid chasing & seeking

Make right & wrong

and the heart gets lost in confusion

Duality comes from the One

the One does not guard itself

The heart of the One is unborn

ten-thousand dharmas are no hindrance

No hindrance, no dharmas

no birth, no heart

“This” surrenders when “that” is extinguished

“that” is banished when “this” drops

“That” depends on “this”

“this” depends on “that”

If we wish to know these two

their origin is vacant Oneness

In vacant Oneness these two are equal

together they contain ten-thousand forms

Do not distinguish coarse & fine

extinguish one-sided views

The great Dao has a wide body

not easy, not difficult

Small views deceive like a fox

they wander quickly yet respond late

Grasp them and lose our parameters

certain to enter deviant ways

Just let things be as they are

and the body neither departs nor abides

Trust our nature to merge with Dao

at ease, troubles disappear

Overly studying distorts reality

sinking into dimness and ineptitude

It is inept to labor the spirit

Why neglect our kin?

If we wish to obtain the One Vehicle

do not dislike the Six Dusts

Not disliking the Six Dusts

stay aligned with correct awareness

Sages stay with wuwei

fools bind themselves

Dharma is not some unusual dharma

it is fantasy to cherish anything

Stirring up the heart’s desire

is this not a great mistake?

Confusion gives birth to isolation and upheaval

awakening is without good & evil

Every “thing” has two sides

overflowing beyond the brim

Dreams, illusions, vacant flowers

why labor to grasp them?

Gain & loss, right & wrong

release them at once

If the eye never sleeps

all dreams dissolve of themselves

When the heart makes no distinctions

the ten-thousand dharmas are as One

As the One Original Body

sever and forget all karmic entanglements

View the ten-thousand dharmas as equal

reverting and returning of themselves

Thereby obliterating their position

unable to hold to their locale

Stilling movement, there is no movement

Moving stillness, there is no stillness

Without the presence of duality

how can the One thusly exist?

In the end, all extremes are exhausted

nothing survives this path

Commit the heart to equanimity

and all phenomena come to rest

Foxly deceit is purged and exhausted

restoring trust and rectitude

Every “thing” doesn’t last

losing all recollection

Empty, bright, self-illuminating

no labor of the heart

Not dwelling on any thoughts

knowledge & emotion cannot fathom this

In the true Dharma realm

there is no self, no other

If we want immediate accord

just say “not-two”

In “not-two”, everything is the same

nothing is not contained

Sages of the ten directions

all enter into this lineage

The lineage does not rush or delay

one moment’s thought is ten-thousand years

Nothingness is located nowhere

pervading the ten directions, yet right before our eyes

The extremes of small & large alike

sever and forget all distinctions

The extremes of large & small alike

see no borders manifest

Existence is nothingness

nothingness is existence

It may seem not so

but we must not hold onto appearance

One is everything

everything is One

So surely indeed

why worry without end?

Trust the heart to “not-two”

as not-two trusts the heart

Words and speech sever Dao

it is not going, coming, or present

Translation by Nameless Stream (無名川), 2019

On Having Direction (往)

Wang - Direction-wht

It’s helpful to have a direction.  Essential perhaps.  A clear direction guides our each & every step.  It’s wonderful to know just want we’re supposed to do in each & every aspect of our life.

One Chinese character for direction, wǎng (往), suggests mastering our stepping – mastering our conduct.  Ensuring that each & every gesture is moving us toward where we want to be.

But I’m afraid wuweidao doesn’t give us some specified direction.  Some special state to attain or goal to work toward.  It does reveal a kind of qi-quality, but that’s about it.

Indeed, we can generate some concept that we’ve “lost it” and need to “return” – that’s a direction.  But that’s not really wuweidao – that’s only relevant if we’re not really in the practice.

Our tradition takes a different tack.  It’s not geared toward people not in the practice.  It’s not “geared” toward anything actually.  This non-gearedness is the great treasure of this path.

So in this spirit, we sit for a while every day without any direction whatsoever, beyond the basics of natural posture.  Sticking with this practice regularly over a period of time, something arises that Laozi observes is inaccessible from any direction-based action or method.

But it’s not the case that wuwei practitioners have no direction.  Anything but.  When hungry, our direction is to eat, if someone is thirsty, our direction is to bring them something to drink.  Correct direction is self-revealing – it doesn’t come from philosophy or religion or doctrine or faith or effort or method or this or that.  Nature brings it forth moment-to-moment.

This is the direction of wuweidao.