Hsin Hsin Ming -

Verses on the Faith Mind

Seng T'san (third Zen Patriarch)


The Great Way is not difficult

for those who have no preferences.

When love and hate are both absent

everything becomes clear and undisguised.

Make the smallest distinction, however

and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth

then hold no opinions for or against anything.

To set up what you like against what you dislike

is the disease of the mind.

When the deep meaning of things is not understood

the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.


The Way is perfect like vast space

where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess

Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject

that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things

nor in inner feelings of emptiness.

Be serene in the oneness of things

and such erroneous views will disappear of themselves.

When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity

your very effort fills you with activity.

As long as you remain in one extreme or the other

you will never know Oneness.


Those who do not live in the single Way

fail in both activity and passivity,

assertion and denial.

To deny the reality of things

is to miss their reality:

to assert the emptiness of things

is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it,

the further away you wander from the truth.

Stop talking and thinking,

and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning,

but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.

At the moment of inner enlightenment

there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.

The changes that appear to occur in the empty world

we call real only because of our ignorance.

Do not search for truth:

only cease to cherish opinions.


Do not remain in the dualistic state -

avoid such pursuits carefully.

If there is even a trace

of this and that, of right and wrong,

the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.

Although all dualities come from the One,

do not be attached even to this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,

nothing in the world can offend,

and when a thing can no longer offend,

it ceases to exist in the old way.


When no discriminating thoughts arise,

the old mind ceases to exist.

When thought objects vanish,

the thinking subject vanishes,

as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject (mind);

the mind (subject) is such because of things (objects).

Understand the relativity of these two

and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.

In this emptiness the two are indistinguishable

and each contains in itself the whole world.

If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine

you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.


To live in the Great Way

is neither easy nor difficult,

but those with limited views

are fearful and irresolute:

the faster they hurry, the slower they go,

and clinging cannot be limited:

even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment

is to go astray.

Just let things be in their own way

and there will be neither coming nor going.


Obey the nature of things (your own nature,)

and you will walk freely and undisturbed.

When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,

for everything is murky and unclear,

and the burdensome practice of judging

brings annoyance and weariness.

What benefit can be derived

from distinctions and separations?


If you wish to move in the One Way

do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.

Indeed, to accept them fully

is identical with true enlightenment.

The wise man strives to no goals

but the foolish man fetters himself.

There is one Dharma, not many:

distinctions arise

from the clinging needs of the ignorant.

To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind

is the greatest of all mistakes.


Rest and unrest derive from illusion:

with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.

All dualities come from ignorant inference.

They are like dreams or flowers in the air:

foolish to try to grasp them.

Gain and loss, right and wrong:

such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.


If the eye never sleeps

all dreams will naturally cease.

If the mind makes no discriminations,

the ten thousand things

are as they are, of single essence.

To understand the mystery of this One-essence

is to be released from all entanglements.

When all things are seen equally,

the timeless Self-essence is reached.

No comparisons or analogies are possible

in this causeless relationless state.


Consider movement stationary

and the stationary in motion,

both movement and rest disappear.

When such dualities cease to exist

Oneness itself cannot exist.

To this ultimate finality

no law or description applies


For the unified mind in accord with the Way

all self-centred striving ceases.

Doubts and irresolutions vanish

and life in true faith is possible.

with a single stroke we are freed from bondage;

nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.

All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,

with no exertion of the mind's power.

Here, thought, feeling, knowledge and imagination

are of no value.

In this world of Suchness

there is neither self nor other-than-self.


To come directly into harmony with this reality

just simply say when doubt arises, "Not two."

In this "not two" nothing is separate,

nothing is excluded.

No matter when or where,

enlightenment means entering this truth.

And this truth is beyond extension or

diminution in time or space:

in it a single thought is ten thousand years.


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 and intermingle,

without distinction.

To live in this realisation

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.



The Way is beyond language

for in it there is

no yesterday

no tomorrow

no today.