Archive for September 28th, 2006


Harmony of Difference and Sameness

By Ch’an Master Shih-t’ou Hsi-ch’ien , 石頭希遷, Sekitõ Kisen

Harmony of Difference and Sameness 
竺土大仙心    The mind of the great sage of India
東西密相付    is intimately transmitted from west to east.
人根有利鈍    While human faculties are sharp or dull,
道無南北祖    the Way has no northern or southern ancestors.
靈源明皎潔    The spiritual source shines clear in the light;
枝派暗流注    the branching streams flow on in the dark.
執事元是迷    Grasping at things is surely delusion;
契理亦非悟    according with sameness is still not enlightenment.
門門一切境    All the objects of the senses
迴互不迴互    interact and yet do not.
迴而更相    Interacting brings involvement.
不爾依位住    Otherwise, each keeps its place.
色本殊質像    Sights vary in quality and form,
聲元異樂苦    sounds differ as pleasing or harsh.
闇合上中言    Refined and common speech come together in the dark,
明明清濁句    clear and murky phrases are distinguished in the light.
四大性自復    The four elements return to their natures
如子得其母    just as a child turns to its mother;
火熱風動搖    Fire heats, wind moves,
水濕地堅固    water wets, earth is solid.
眼色耳音聲    Eye and sights, ear and sounds,
鼻香舌鹹醋    nose and smells, tongue and tastes;
然於一一法    Thus with each and every thing,
依根葉分布    depending on these roots, the leaves spread forth.
本未須歸宗    Trunk and branches share the essence;
尊卑用其語    revered and common, each has its speech.
當明中有暗    In the light there is darkness,
勿以暗相遇    but don’t take it as darkness;
當暗中有明    In the dark there is light,
勿以明相睹    but don’t see it as light.
明暗各相對    Light and dark oppose one another
比如前後歩    like the front and back foot in walking.
萬物自有功    Each of the myriad things has its merit,
當言用及處    expressed according to function and place.
事存函蓋合    Phenomena exist; box and lid fit;
理應箭鋒    principle responds; arrow points meet.
承言須會宗    Hearing the words, understand the meaning;
勿自立規矩    don’t set up standards of your own.
觸目不會道    If you don’t understand the Way right before you,
運足焉知路    how will you know the path as you walk?
進歩非近遠    Progress is not a matter of far or near,
迷隔山河故    but if you are confused, mountains and rivers block your way.
謹白參玄人    I respectfully urge you who study the mystery,
光陰莫虚度    do not pass your days and nights in vain.

Inquiry into Matching Halves

Translated by Master Sheng-yen


The mind of the great Indian immortal

Was esoterically transmitted from West to East.

The capacity of people may be dull or sharp,

But there are no Northern and Southern Patriarchs in the

The spiritual source is bright and pure,

Branching out and secretly flowing forth.

Attachment to phenomenon has always been confusion,

Yet union with principle is not enlightenment.

Every (Dharma) door includes all realms,

Some mutually interact, others do not.

Reaction increases mutual involvement;

There should be no reliance on abiding in one place.

From original form comes shapes and images;

From primal sound comes pleasures and pains.

In obscurity, words of the high and middle (paths) are in

In lucidity, expressions of purity and muddiness are

The four great elements return to their own nature

As a child finds its mother.

Fire burns, wind moves and shakes.

Water moistens, earth solidifies.

Eyes – forms, ears – sounds,

Nose – odors, tongue – salt and sour.

In accordance with each dharma,

The root gives rise to separate leaves.

Roots and branches must return to basic principle;

"Honorable" and "lowly" are merely

In the midst of brightness there is darkness;

Do not take darkness as darkness.

In the midst of darkness there is brightness;

Do not take brightness as brightness.

Brightness and darkness correspond,

Line one step following another,

All things have their own function

Depending on their use and location.

Phenomena stores, seals, covers, combines..

Principle yields to the arrow, the sword’s edge, the stick.

Received teachings must be reconciled with basic principle;

Do not establish your own rules.

Using your eyes, the path is lost.

Using your feet, how can you know the road?

Moving forward there is no near or far;

Confusion creates mountains and rivers of obstructions.

I implore those who investigate the mysterious:

Do not waste your time!

Hsing-ssu one day asked: "Some say that an intelligence comes from the south of the Ling."
T’ou: "There is no such intelligence from anybody."
Ssu: "If not, whence are all those sutras of the Tripitaka?"
T’ou: "They all come out of here, and there is nothing wanting."
Shih-t’ou, "Stone-head", gains his name because of his having a hut over the flat surface of a rock in his monastery grounds in Heng-chou. He once gave the following sermon: "My teaching which has come down from the ancient Buddhas is not dependent on meditation (dhyana) or on diligent application of any kind. When you attain the insight as attained by the Buddha, you realize that Mind is Buddha and Buddha is Mind, that Mind, Buddha, sentient beings, Bodhi (enlightenment), and Klesa (passions) are of one and the same substance while they vary in names. You should know that your own mind-essence is neither subject to annihilation nor eternally subsisting, is neither pure nor defiled, that it remains perfectly undisturbed and self-sufficient and the same with the wise and the ignorant, that it is not limited in its working, and that it is not included in the category of mind (citta), consciousness (manas), or thought (vijnana). The three worlds of desire, form, and no-form, and the six paths of existence are no more than manifestations of your mind itself. They are all like the moon reflected in water or images in the mirror. How can we speak of them as being born or as passing away? When you come to this understanding, you will be furnished with all the things you are in need of."
Tao-wu, one of Shih-t’ou’s disciples, then asked: "Who has attained to the understanding of Hui-neng’s teaching?"
T’ou: "The one who understands Buddhism."
Wu: "Have you then attained it?"
T’ou: "No, I do not understand Buddhism."
A monk asked: "How does one get emancipated?"
The master said: "Who has ever put you in bondage?"
Monk: "What is the Pure Land?"
Master: "Who has ever defiled you?"
Monk: "What is Nirvana?"
Master: "Who has ever subjected you to birth-and-death?"
Shih-t’ou asked a monk newly arrived: "Where do you come from?"
"From Chiang-hsi."
"Did you see Ma the great teacher?"
"Yes, master."
Shih-t’ou then pointed at a bundle of kindlings and said: "How does Ma the teacher resemble this?"
The monk made no answer. Returning to Ma the teacher, he reported the interview with Shih-t’ou. Ma asked: "Did you notice how large the bundle was?"
"An immensely large one it was."
"You are a very strong man indeed."
"How?" asked the monk.
"Because you have carried that huge bundle from Nan-yueh even up to this monastery. Only a strong man can accomplish such a feat."
A monk asked: "What is the meaning of the First Patriarch’s coming from the West?"
Master: "Ask the post over there."
Monk: "I do not understand you."
Master: "I do not either, any more than you."
Ta-tien asked: "According to an ancient sage it is a dualism to take the Tao either as existing or as not-existing. Please tell me how to remove this obstruction."
"Not a thing here, and what do you wish to remove?"
Shih-t’ou turned about and demanded: "Do away with your throat and lips, and let me see what you can say."
Said Ta-tien, "No such things have I."
"If so, you may enter the gate."
Tao-wu asked: "What is the ultimate teaching of Buddhism?"
"You won’t understand it until you have it."
"Is there anything over and above it whereby one may have a new turn?"
"Boundlessly expands the sky and nothing obstructs the white clouds from freely flying about."
"What is Zen?" asked a monk.
"Brick and stone."
"What is the Tao?"
"A block of wood."

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5 other followers

September 2006
« Aug   Oct »

Blog Stats

  • 1,956 hits