Monday, January 11, 2010

Hsin Hsin Ming

The Hsin Hsin Ming or Verses of Faith Mind is one of my favorite Zen texts. It was written by Seng-ts'an. He was the third Zen Patriarch in China.

I encourage people to read it countless of times. I have copied a few of the first stanzas to wet your appetite. It is quite long and I love the ending.

"The Great Way is not difficult
for those not attached to preferences.
When neither love nor hate arises,
all is clear and undisguised.
Separate by the smallest amount, however,
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.

If you wish to know the truth,
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.

When the fundamental nature of things is not recognized
the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect as vast space is perfect,
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.

Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting
that we do not know the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in ideas or feelings of emptiness.
Be serene and at one with things
and erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity to achieve quietude,
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain attached to one extreme or another
you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the Single Way
cannot be free in either activity or quietude, in assertion or denial.

Deny the reality of things
and you miss their reality;
assert the emptiness of things
and you miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it
the further you wander from the truth.
So cease attachment to talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the essence,
but to pursue appearances or "enlightenment" is to miss the source.
To awaken even for a moment
is to go beyond appearance and emptiness."

Translation: Richard B. Clarke (

Hands palm to palm,



  1. It is great :D

    Please allow me to spam you a link from a blog I know of.

  2. Wonderful, I love this . . and it is my realization and therefore my message also.

    Thank you Shinzen for sharing these words of truth :)

  3. Ta-Wan: Good blog!
    Doug: Thanks.

    Sometimes I read the stanzas from last to first...helps break up any mind-ruts.

  4. Love this. Thanks for sharing, Shinzen. It's highly valuable for fellow readers, particularly me :D