A Passage for November


This month we chose a passage by Seng Ts’an, who is honored as the Third Patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism, a doctrine which focuses on the practice of meditation as a means to attaining enlightenment. Many of the high ideals we strive for by practicing passage meditation are reflected in this passage, particularly sense training as a means of overcoming selfish desire.

This passage also incorporates both Buddhist and Taoist concepts, making it an early example of Zen writings. Two Taoist phrases appear in this passage, the “great Way” and the “ten thousand things.” The former expresses the eternal order of the universe and the latter, the fleeting material world.

We invite you to add to your passage repertoire this month by memorizing or refreshing Believing in Mind. And as always, we love to hear from you, so please share in the comments which high ideals you feel this passage inspires.

Believing in Mind – Seng Ts’an

The great Way has no impediments;
It does not pick and choose.
When you abandon attachment and aversion
You see it plainly.
Make a thousandth of an inch distinction,
Heaven and earth swing apart.
If you want it to appear before your eyes,
Cherish neither for nor against.

To compare what you like with what you dislike,
That is the disease of the mind.
You pass over hidden meaning;
Peace of mind is needlessly troubled.

It is round and perfect like vast space,
Lacks nothing, never overflows.
Only because we take and reject
Do we lose the means to know its Suchness.

Don’t get tangled in outward desire
Or get caught within yourself.
Once you plant deep the long for peace
Confusion leaves of itself.

Return to the root and find meaning;
Follow sense objects, you lose the goal.
Just one instant of inner enlightenment
Will take you far beyond the emptiness of the world.

Selfish attachment forgets all limits;
It always leads down evil roads.
When you let go of it, things happen of themselves;
The substance neither goes nor abides.

If the eye does not sleep
All dreams will naturally stop.
If the mind does not differentiate
All things are of one Suchness.

When you fathom the realm of Suchness
You instantly forget all selfish desire.
Having seen ten thousand things as one
You return to your natural state.

Without meditation
Consciousness and feeling are hard to grasp.
In the realm of Suchness

There is neither self nor other.

In the one, there is the all.
In the all, there is the one.
If you know this,
You will never worry about being incomplete.

If belief and mind are made the same
And there is no division between belief and mind
The road of words comes to an end,
Beyond the present and future.