Sengcan

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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.

Jianzhi Sengcan [Chinese: 鑑智僧璨; Hànyǔ Pīnyīn: Jiànzhì Sēngcàn; Wade–Giles: Chien-chih Seng-ts'an; Japanese: Kanchi Sōsan] (died 606) is known as the Third Chinese Patriarch of Chán Buddhism. He is most famous as the putative author of the famous Chán poem, Xinxin Ming 信心銘 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn: Xìnxīn Míng; Wade–Giles: Hsin-hsin Ming; translated as Inscription on Faith in Mind).

Quotes[edit]

Xinxin Ming[edit]

  • The Perfect Way knows no difficulties
    Except that it refuses to make preferences;
    Only when freed from hate and love,
    It reveals itself fully and without disguise;
    A tenth of an inch's difference,
    And heaven and earth are set apart;
    If you wish to see it before your own eyes,
    Have no fixed thoughts either for or against it.

    To set up what you like against what you dislike —
    This is the disease of the mind:
    When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood
    Peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose.
    (The Way is) perfect like unto vast space,
    With nothing wanting, nothing superfluous:
    It is indeed due to making choice
    That its suchness is lost sight of.
    Pursue not the outer entanglements,
    Dwell not in the inner void;
    Be serene in the oneness of things,
    And (dualism) vanishes by itself.
    • First lines, as translated by D. T. Suzuki, in Manual of Zen Buddhism (1935), Part IV: From The Chinese Zen Masters, Ch. 2 : The Third Patriarch on "Believing in Mind"
    • Variant translations:
    • 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.
      • As translated by Arthur Waley, in "Hsin Hsin Ming: On Trust in the Heart", Buddhist Texts Through the Ages (1954), edited by Edward Conze, p. 296

    • The best way is not difficult
      It only excludes picking and choosing
      Once you stop loving and hating
      It will enlighten itself.
      Depart for a hairbreadth
      And heaven and earth are set apart,
      If you want it to appear
      Do not be for or against.

      To set longing against loathing
      Makes the mind sick,
      Not knowing the deep meaning (of the way)
      It is useless to quiet thoughts.
      Complete it is like great vacuity
      With nothing lacking, nothing in excess.
      When you grasp and reject
      There is no suchness.
      • As translated by Dusan Pajin, in "On Faith in Mind - Translation and Analysis of the Hsin Hsin Ming", Journal of Oriental Studies, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, (1988), pp. 270-288
  • Whether we see it or not,
    It is manifest everywhere in all the ten quarters.

    Infinitely small things are as large as large things can be,
    For here no external conditions obtain;
    Infinitely large things are as small as small things can be,
    For objective limits are here of no consideration.
    What is is the same as what is not,
    What is not is the same as what is:
    Where this state of things fails to obtain,
    Indeed, no tarrying there.
    One in All,
    All in One —
    If only this is realized,
    No more worry about your not being perfect!
    Where Mind and each believing mind are not divided,
    And undivided are each believing mind and Mind,
    This is where words fail;
    For it is not of the past, present, and future.
    • Last lines, as translated by D. T. Suzuki, in Manual of Zen Buddhism (1935)
    • Variant translations:
    • Emptiness here, Emptiness there,
      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.
      Words! The Way is beyond language,
      for in it there is
      no yesterday
      no tomorrow
      no today.
      • As translated by Richard B. Clarke (1973, 1984, 2001)

Quotes about Sengcan[edit]

  • Sengcan: I am riddled with sickness. Please absolve me of my sin.
    Huike: Bring your sin here and I will absolve you.
    Sengcan [after a long pause]: When I look for my sin, I cannot find it.
    Huike: I have absolved you. You should live by the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
    • Traditional account of an encounter between Sengcan and Dazu Huike, in the Denkoroku, by Keizan, as translated by Thomas Cleary, in Transmission of Light : Zen in the Art of Enlightenment by Zen Master Keizan (1990)

External links[edit]

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