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Faith Mind Inscription

Hsin-hsin Ming

By Third Ch'an Patriarch Chien-chih Seng-ts'an




Title of the Text

Author of the Text

Problem of Authorship

Written Sources of the Text

The Hsin-hsin Ming

The Original Text

The Text with Japanese "Current Characters" (Tõyõ Kanji)

Translation of the Text

Chinese and Japanese Transcriptions of the Text

An Analysis of the Hsin-hsin Ming

Two Mainstream Translations of the Hsin-hsin Ming

Another Verse Attributed to Chien-chih Seng-ts'an




Title of the Text



Hsin-hsin Ming (Wade-Giles)

Xinxin Ming (Pinyin) Xin4xin1 Ming2

Shinjinmei (or Shinjin no Mei) (Japanese)

Sinsim Myong (Korean)

Literally, Believing Heart (Mind) Inscription or Faith-Heart (Mind) Inscription


Various Translations of the Title

Different Western and Eastern translators have rendered the title "Hsin-hsin Ming" in different ways:

1.   Trust Mind Inscription (Hae Kwang)

2.   Inscription on Trust in the Mind (Burton Watson)

3.   Inscribed On the Believing Mind (Daisetsu Teitarõ Suzuki)

4.   On Believing in Mind (Daisetsu Teitarõ Suzuki)

5.   Words Inscribed on the Believing Mind (Heinrich Dumoulin)

6.   Verses On the Faith Mind (Richard B. Clarke)

7.   On Faith in Mind (Dusan Pajin)

8.   Faith in Mind (Sheng-yen)

9.   Trusting In Mind (Hae Kwang)

10. On Trust in the Heart (Christmas Humphreys)

11. Trust in the Heart (Thomas Cleary)

12. Poem on the Trust in the Heart (Thomas Cleary)

13. Trusting In Mind (Stanley Lombardo)

14. Song of Trusting the Heart (translator unknown)

15. A Poetical Manuscript on Belief in the Mind (Katsuki Sekida)

16. The Mind of Absolute Trust (Stephen Mitchell)

17. The Mind of Absolute Trust (Robert F. Olson)

18. The Perfect Way (translator unknown)


Author of the Text



Chien-chih Seng-ts'an (Wade-Giles)

Jianzhi Sengcan (Pinyin) Jian4zhi4 Seng1can4

Kanchi Sõsan (Japanese)


"Seng-ts'an" is the Buddhist name of the author of the Hsin-hsin Ming, it means "Jewel of the [Buddhist] Community." (Lit. "Sangha-jewel.")

"Chien-chih" is an honorary title given to Seng-ts'an after his death, by Emperor Hsüan-tsung (Gensõ) of the T'ang dynasty. It means "Mirrorlike Wisdom."


Chien-chih Seng-ts'an, the third Ch'an patriarch in China, is also known as:

Ch'an master Seng-ts'an (Seng-ts'an Ch'an-shih; Sõsan Zenji 禪師)

• The third patriarch Ch'an master Seng-ts'an (San-tsu Seng-ts'an Ch'an-shih; Sanso Sõsan Zenji 三祖僧禪師)

• Great master Chien-chih (Chien-chih Ta-shih; Kanchi Daishi 鑑智大師)

• The third patriarch great master Seng-ts'an (San-tsu Seng-ts'an Ta-shih; Sanso Sõsan Daishi 三祖僧大師)


Seng-ts'an is Buddhist name of the third patriarch, his real name is unknown. The following quotations contain information about Chien-chih Seng-ts'an, about which very little is known:


About Seng-ts'an

Sõsan Sêng-ts'an. The third patriarch in the lineage of the Chinese Zen Sect. In 592 he initiated Tao-hsin (Dõshin) into the profound doctrines of zen. He died in 606. After his death, he was given the title of Chien-chih ch'an-shih (Kanchi-zenji) by Emperor Hsüan-tsung (Gensõ) of the T'ang () Dynasty. The Hsin-hsin-ming (Shinjimmei) was written by him.

(Japanese-English Buddhist Dictionary 342)


About Seng-ts'an

We have little information about the life of the Third Patriarch. His birthplace and birth date are unknown. According to the Denko-roku ("The Transmission of the Lamp"), written by Keizan Zenji (1268-1325), he was a layman over forty years old suffering from leprosy when when he met the Second Patriarch, Hui-k'o (Jap: Eka), for the first time in 551 c.e. Being deeply impressed with this layman's capacity for the Dharma, Hui-k'o shaved the Third Patriarch's head and named him Seng-ts'an (Jewel of the Community). He was gradually cured of his illness and, after they had been practicing together for two years, Hui-k'o gave him the robe and bowl signifying the transmission of the Dharma.

         Anticipating the persecution of Buddhists in China prophesied by Bodhidharma, Hui-k'o ordered his successor to hide in the mountains and not to teach. The Third Patriarch remained in seclusion at Ch'ung-kung shan and Ssu-k'ung shan for over twenty-four years. He later met the monk Tao-hsin and transmitted the Dharma to him. After that, the Third Patriarch moved to Lo-fu shan, located northeast of Kung-tung (Canton), for three years. Then he returned to Ch'ung-kung shan and died there in 606 c.e. It is said that he passed away standing under a big tree with his palms together in gassho.

(The Eye That Never Sleeps xv-xvi, Introduction of Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Roshi)


A Brief History of Seng-ts'an

The author of this Buddhist "hymn," Sengtsan (Sosan), the third (Chinese) Zen patriarch from Dharma, the first Chinese and the twenty-eighth Indian Zen patriarch, lived during the sixth century, dying in 606 A.D. His place of origin is unknown. The conversion of Sengtsan at the hands of Huike (Eka), the Second Patriarch, is recorded in the "Chuantenglu" ("Dentoroku"), Part 3:

         Sengtsan asked Huike, saying, "I am diseased: I implore you to cleanse me of my sin". Huike said, "Bring me your sin and I will cleanse you of it". Sengtsan thought for awhile; then said, "I cannot get at it". Huike replied, "Then I have cleansed you of it".

         Sengtsan realized, not simply in his mind, but in every bone of his body, that his sinfulness was an illusion, one with that of the illusion of self. As soon as we are aware of our irresponsibility, all the cause of misbehaviour disappears in so far as the cause, (the illusion of the self) is removed. If we have no self, it cannot commit sin. Yet, it must be added, "I can't see how you and I, who don't exist, should get to speaking here, and smoke our pipes, for all the world like reality". (Stevenson, "Fables")

         He became the disciple of the Second Patriarch and practiced austerities and led a life of devotion and poverty, receiving the bowl and the robe, insignia of the transmission through Bodhidharma, the First Patriarch (of China) of the Buddha Mind. At this time, one of the periodic persecutions of Buddhism broke out. Sutras and images were burned wholesale; monks and nuns were returned to the lay life. Sengtsan wandered for fifteen years all over the country, avoiding persecution. In 592, he met Taohsin (Doshin), who became the Fourth Patriarch. (R. H. Blyth)


About Seng-ts'an

Seng-ts'an (Jap. Sõsan), d. 606?; the third patriarch (soshigata) of Ch'an (Zen) in China; the dharma successor (hossu) of Hui-k'o and the master of Tao-hsin. Hardly any details are known of the life of the third patriarch. There are, however, many legends about him and his meeting with Hui-k'o. According to one of these legends Seng-ts'an was suffering from leprosy when he met the second patriarch. Hui-k'o is supposed to have encountered him with the words, "You're suffering from leprosy; what could you want from me?" Seng-ts'an is supposed to have replied, "Even if my body is sick, the heart-mind (kokoro) of a sick person is no different from your heart-mind." This convinced Hui-k'o of the spiritual capacity of Seng-ts'an; he accepted him as a student and later confirmed him as his dharma successor and the thirtieth patriarch (third Chinese patriarch) in the lineage of Ch'an (Zen), which begins with Shakyamuni Buddha.

         The incident that marked the "transmission from heart-mind to heart-mind" (ishin-denshin) from Hui-k'o to Seng-ts'an is given in the Denkõ-roku as follows:

         The thirtieth patriarch Kanchi Daishi [daishi, "great master"] went for instruction) to the twenty-ninth patriarch and asked, "The body of the student is possessed by mortal illness. I beg you, master, wipe away my sins."

         The patriarch [Hui-k'o] said, "Bring me your sins here, and I'll wipe them away for you."

         The master [Seng-ts'an] sat in silence for a while, the said, "Although I've looked for my sins, I can't find them."

         The patriarch said, "In that case I've already thoroughly wiped away your sins. You should live in accordance with Buddha, dharma, and sangha" [sambõ].

         It is said that during the Buddhist persecution of the year 574, Seng-ts'an had to feign mental illness in order to escape execution, and that finally he went into hiding for ten years on Mount Huan-kung. His mere presence there is said to have pacified the wild tigers, which until that time had caused great fear among the local people. The authorship of Hsin-hsin-ming (Jap. Shinjinmei) is attributed to Seng-ts'an. It is one of the earliest Ch'an writings. It expounds Ch'an basic principles in poetic form and shows strong Taoist influence. The Hsin-hsin-ming begins with a famous sentence, which comes up again and again in Ch'an (Zen) literature (for instance, in example of the Pi-yen-lu): "The venerable way is not difficult at all; it only abhors picking and choosing." In this early Ch'an poem, the fusion, typical for later Ch'an (Zen), of the mutually congenial teachings of Mahâyâna Buddhism and Taoism appears for the first time.

(The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion 311)


About Seng-ts'an

Next to Hui-k'ê came Sêng-ts'an, who succeeded as the third patriarch. The interview between master and disciple took place in this manner: A layman of forty troubled with fêng-yang1 according to the Records, came to Hui-k'ê and asked:

         'I am suffering from fêng-yang; pray cleanse me of my sins.'

         'Bring your sins here,' said Hui-k'ê, 'and I will cleanse you of them.'

         The lay-disciple was silent for a while but finally said, 'As I seek my sins, I find them unattainable.'

         'I have then finished cleansing you altogether. You should thenceforth take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Samgha (Brotherhood), and abide therein.'

         'As I stand before you, O master,' asked Sêng-ts'an, 'I know that you belong to the Brotherhood, but pray tell me what are the Buddha and the Dharma?'

         Replied the master: 'Mind is the Buddha, Mind is the Dharma; and the Buddha and the Dharma are not two. The same is to be said of the Brotherhood (samgha).'

         This satisfied the disciple, who now said, 'Today for the first time I realize that sins are neither within nor without nor in the middle; just as Mind is, so is the Buddha, so is the Dharma; they are not two.'2

         He was then ordained by Hui-k'ê as a Buddhist monk, and after this he fled from the world altogether, and nothing much of his life is known. This was partly due to the persecution of Buddhism carried on by the Emperor of the Chou dynasty. It was in the twelfth year of K'ai-huan of the Sui dynasty (a.d. 592), that he found a disciple worthy to be his sucessor. His name was Tao-hsin. He asked the master:

         'Pray show me the way to deliverance.'

         'Who has ever put you in bondage.'


         'If so,' said the master, 'why should you ask for deliverance?'

         This put the young novice on the way to final enlightenment, which he attained after many years' study under the master. When Sêng-ts'an thought that the time was ripe to consecrate him as his successor in the faith, he handed him, as the token of the rightful transmission of the Law, the robe which had come down from Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Zen in China. He died in a.d. 606. While much of his life is obscure, his thought is gleaned from a metrical composition known as Hsin-hsin-ming, or 'Inscribed on the Believing Mind', which is one of the most valuable contributions by the masters to the interpretation of Zen teaching.

(Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 195-6)

1 Understood by some to be leprosy. (Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 195 n.1)

2 In the Vimalakîrti, chapter iii, 'The Disciples', we have the following: 'Do not worry about the sins you have committed, O monks,' said Vimalakîrti. 'Why?' Because sins are in their essence neither within nor without nor in the middle. As the Buddha taught us, all things are defiled when Mind is defiled; all things are pure when Mind is pure; and Mind is neither within nor without nor in the middle. As is Mind, so are sins and defilements, so are all things – they never transcend the suchness of truth.'

(Essays in Zen Buddhism – First Series 195 n.2)


Seng-ts'an in the Transmission of the Light

Translation of chapter 31 of the Transmission of the Light1, by Japanese Zen Master Keizan Jõkin2 (1268-1325):


Sengcan said to the Zen master Huike, "I am riddled with sickness; please absolve me of my sin." Huike said, "Bring me your sin and I will absolve you." After a long pause, Sengcan said, "When I look for my sin I cannot find it." Huike said, "I have absolved you. You should live by the Buddha, the Teaching, and the Community."

         It is not known where Sengcan came from. When he visited Zen master Huike, he was a layman over forty years of age. He did not say his name, but came to the Zen master and asked for relief from his illness, as told in the story.

         When Huike told him to live by the Buddha, the Teaching, and the Community, Sengcan said, "I can see you are a monk, a member of the Buddhist community; what are the Buddha and the Teaching?" Huike said, "This mind is Buddha, this mind is the Teaching; the Teaching and the Buddha are not separate. This is also true of the Community."

         Sengcan said, "Today for the first time I have realized that the essence of sin is not inside, not outside, not in between. So it is also of mind. Buddha and the Teaching are not separate either." Huike regarded him as having the capacity for the teching, so he had him ordained as a monk and named him Sengcan, which means "Light of the Religious Community." After this his sickness gradually healed.

         Sengcan attended Huike for two years. Then Huike said to him, "The great teacher Bodhidharma came here to China from India, and gave me both the robe and the teaching. Now I entrust them to you." He also said, "Although you have attained the teaching, for the time being you should go into the mountains and not teach publicly. There will be trouble in this country."

         Sengcan said, "Since you know about this, please give me some instructions." Huike said. "It is not that I know – this is the prediction given to Bodhidharma by Prajnatara, who said, 'Inside the heart is auspicious, but outside is bad luck.' According to my calculations, this prediction refers to your generation. Think about these words and don't get caught up in worldly problems."

         After that Sengcan lived in seclusion in the mountains for ten years. This was the time that the Martial Emperor of the Wei dynasty persecuted the Buddhist religion. Because of this Sengcan changed his appearance and stayed in the mountains, dwelling in no fixed place.

         While in this condition Sengcan met the novice Daoxin, who was to become his successor. He said to Daoxin, "After my teacher transmitted Zen to me, he went to the big city and spent thirty years there. Now that I have found you, why should I stay here?" Then we went to another mountain, but later returned to his old abode. The local people flocked to him and offered support. He gave extensive explanations of the essence of mind for the people, then at a religious meeting he died under a tree. His Poem on the Trust in the Heart was recorded and circulates even today. Later he was given the title Master of Mirrorlike Knowledge.

         The sickness plaguing him in his first meeting with Huike was leprosy. But as he associated with the Zen master, his sickness disappeared. There is nothing special about this story: understanding that the nature of sin is ungraspable, he realized that the nature of mind is originally pure. Thus he heard that the Buddha and the Truth are not separate, that mind and reality are thus. When you really know the original mind, there is no difference in dying in one place and being born in another – how much less could there be any distinction of sin and virtue there! Thus the body-mind after all does not exist; we are fundamentally free from skin, flesh, bones, and marrow. Therefore his disease disappeared and his original mind appeared.

         In expounding the essence of the teaching, Sengcan said, "The supreme Way is without difficulty – it is only averse to discrimination." In conclusion he said, "There is no way to talk about it – it is not of the past, future, or present." Really there is no inside or outside, no in between – what would you choose, what reject? You cannot take, you cannot leave. Once you have no hate or love, you are empty and clear. At no time do you lack, nothing is extra.

         Yet even so, investigate throughly to reach the point of ungraspability, to arrive at the realm of ungraspability. Without becoming nihilistic, not being like wood or stone, you should be able to "strike space and make an echo, tie lightning to make a form." Carefully observe the realm where there are no tracks or traces, yet don't hide there. If you can be like this, even though "that is not the present phenomena, it is not within reach of ear or eye," you should see without hindrance, you should comprehend without deviation.

         Can we add a discerning word to this story?


            Essential emptiness has no inside or outside –

            Sin and virtue leave no traces there.

            Mind and Buddha are fundamentally thus;

            The Teaching and Community are clear.


(Transmission of Light 129-131 Sengcan)



1 Denkõroku 傳光   伝光録

2 Keizan Jõkin 瑩山紹瑾


Notes on the Chinese Names and Terms Used in the Quotations

Chinese ideograms of some of the Chinese terms used in the above quotations:

1. The second patriarch Shen-kuang Hui-k'o (Shinkõ Eka, 487-593) (神光慧可).

2. Ching-te Record of the Transmission of the Lamp (Ching-te Ch'uan-teng Lu, Keitoku Dentõroku


3. The meaning of feng-yang (風恙) is not clear. Some authors think that it is leprosy (lepra, or Hansen's disease). The related

    Chinese word feng means paralysis, leprosy, or insanity. (See Ilza Veith, The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine p. 49

    feng ).

4. Tao-hsin (Dõshin 道信).

5. The title, Master of "Mirrorlike Wisdom" is "Chien-chih" (鑑智).


The Dharma Transmission From Hui-k'o to Seng-ts'an

The incident that marked the Dharma transmission from Hui-k'o to Seng-ts'an is related in the chapter 31 of the Transmission of the Light (Denkõroku), by Japanese Zen Master Keizan Jõkin (1268-1325), as follows:


[The interview between Seng-ts'an and master Hui-k'o took place in the following manner:]


I am riddled with sickness; please absolve me of my sin.


Bring me your sin and I will absolve you.


When I look for my sin I cannot find it.


I have absolved you. You should live by the Buddha, the Teaching, and the Community.

         Seng-ts'an asked Hui-k'o:


I can see you are a monk, a member of the Buddhist community; what are the Buddha and the Teaching?


This mind is Buddha, this mind is the Teaching; the Teaching and the Buddha are not separate. This is also true of the Community.


Today for the first time I have realized that the essence of sin is not inside, not outside, not in between. So it is also of mind. Buddha and the Teaching are not separate either.


         Hui-k'o saw that Seng-ts'an's understanding is profound, he shaved his head and said: This is my treasure. I name him Seng-ts'an.

         Seng-ts'an attended Hui-k'o for two years. Then Hui-k'o said to him,


Bodhidharma came here to China from India, and gave me both the robe and the teaching. Now I entrust them to you.

         Hui-k'o gave him Bodhidharma's robe and bowl signifying the transmission of the Dharma. He said:


Although you have attained the teaching, for the time being you should go into the mountains and not teach publicly. There will be trouble in this country.

         Seng-ts'an said:


Since you know about this, please give me some instructions.



It is not that I know – this is the prediction given to Bodhidharma by Prajnatara1, who said, "Inside the heart is auspicious, but outside is bad luck." According to my calculations, this prediction refers to your generation. Think about these words and don't get caught up in worldly problems.

1 The 27th Buddhist patriarch in India and Bodhidharma's master Prajnatara, his name means "Pearl of Wisdom" (般若多羅).


The Dharma Transmission From Seng-ts'an to Tao-hsin

Tao-hsin asked Seng-ts'an:


Pray show me the way to deliverance.


Who has ever put you in bondage?


Nobody has put me in bondage.


If so, why should you ask for deliverance?

With these words, Tao-hsin attained his final enlightenment.


Problem of Authorship


Although the third patriarch Seng-ts'an has historically been accepted as the author of the Hsin-hsin Ming, contemporary scholarship doubts whether he was in fact the author. There is no record that Hui-k'o or Seng-ts'an ever wrote anything. The expressions and idioms used in the work have caused certain scholars to place the date of its composition in a later year.

         Niu-t'ou Fa-jung1 (594-657), a disciple of Tao-hsin, composed a poem called Mind Inscription2 (Hsin Ming) and the similarity between the Hsin-hsin Ming and the Hsin Ming has caused scholars to speculate that Hsin-hsin Ming was actually written after the time of the sixth patriarch Hui-neng3 (638-713), as an improved, condensed version of the Mind Inscription.

         According to Japanese scholars Nishitani Keiji and Yanagida Seizan, the Hsin-hsin Ming was composed in the eighth century, two centuries after Seng-ts'an (see Nishitani Keiji and Yanagida Seizan, eds., Zenke Goroku4 vol.2; Tõkyõ: Chikuma Shobõ, 1974, pp. 105-112). Yanagida Seizan also suspects that the Hsin-hsin Ming is the work of the fourth patriarch Tao-hsin (580-651). Chinese scholar Yin-shun shares this opinion in his Chung-kuo Ch'an-tsung Shih5, pp. 52-60.

         Some scholars also believe that the author of the Hsin-hsin Ming was not Seng-ts'an but the fourth Ch'an patriarch Tao-hsin. As observed in most religious and spiritual traditions, putting down to writing what one's master recited was a common practice. It is therefore also possible, as some scholars suspect, that Seng-ts'an only recited the poem, and it was later written by one of his disciples.



1 Niu-t'ou Fa-jung (Gozu Hõyû 牛頭法融)

2 Hsin Ming (Shinmei 心銘)

3 Hui-neng Ta-chien (Enõ Daikan 慧能大鑑)

4 Zenke Goroku (禅家語録)

5 Chung-kuo Ch'an-tsung Shih (中国禅宗史)


Written Sources of the Text


There were no separately published editions of the Hsin-hsin Ming. The classical source of the Hsin-hsin Ming is the chapter 30 of the Transmission of the Lamp. Full title of this work is Ching-te Record of the Transmission of the Lamp1 and it is found in the Japanese canon of Buddhist sûtras titled Taishõ Daizõkyõ2, vol. 48, No. 2010.

         Two Tun-huang manuscripts3 containing the text of the Hsin-hsin Ming were discovered in 1926 (Pelliot 2104, 4638; Stein 4037, 5692). Presently, one of these manuscripts is in Paris and the other in London. The manuscripts were collated by Kim Ku-Kyông4 in 1931 and later reprinted in the Taishõ Shinshû Daizõkyõ5, 85.1283-1290. One of the manuscripts is the Record of the Masters and Disciples of the Lankâ6 which contains historical information about the first Ch'an patriarchs (Pelliot 3436, Stein 2054). There are minor variations between the Taishõ Daizõkyõ version and the versions in the Tun-huang manuscripts.

         In one of the Tun-huang manuscripts, the Hsin-hsin Ming is conjoined with another famous Ch'an poem, the Song of Realizing the Way7 of Ch'an master Yung-chieh Hsüan-chüeh8 (Yõka Genkaku, 655-713). This text also contains twenty-four verses of the popular edition of the book published and circulated under the title Ch'an-men Mi-yao-chüeh9 (Zenmon Hiyõketsu) (Pelliot 2104, 4638; Stein 4037, 5692). There is also a popular edition of the poem, with variant characters and verses, titled Faith-Mind Inscription of the Third Patriarch of Sui Dynasty10.



1 Ching-te Ch'uan-teng Lu (Keitoku Dentõroku    景徳伝灯録)

2 Taishõ Daizõkyõ (大正大藏經   大正大蔵経)

3 Tonkõhon (敦煌本)

4 金九經

5 Taishõ Shinshû Daizõkyõ (大正新修大藏經   大正新修大蔵経)

6 Leng‑chia Shih-tzu Chi (Ryõga Shijiki 楞伽師資記)

7 Cheng-tao-ko, Shõdõka (證道歌   証道歌)

8 嘉玄覺

9 Ch'an-men Mi-yao Chüeh (Zenmon Hiyõketsu 禪門秘要決)

10 Sui-chao San-tsu Hsin-hsin Ming (Zuichõ Sanso Shinjinmei 隨朝三祖信心銘)



The Hsin-hsin Ming


The title of the Hsin-hsin Ming may be explained in the following way:


Hsin means "belief" or "faith." This is not the faith in the ordinary sense, it is a belief that comes from firsthand experience, a faith which arise out of supreme knowledge and wisdom of enlightenment. This "believing" is an affirmation that all existence or reality is essentially the Buddha mind, which is our true nature. Hsin is the conviction that at the bottom of all phenomena lies the One Mind, the Buddha mind, which is one with our real nature, the Buddha-nature.


Hsin literally means "heart." It means mind, not the deluded mind of the ignorant but the Buddha-mind. Hsin is the mind that merge with the all-encompassing One Mind.


Ming literally means "inscription." It means written expression or record. Ming also means warnings or admonitions.



Hsin-hsin Ming is one of the earliest and most influential Zen writings. It is usually referred to as the first Zen poem. It consists of 146 unrhymed four-character1 verses2 (lines), total 584 characters3. The Hsin-hsin Ming was composed in shih4 form. Shih was the principal poetic form in use in the early period, it is first used in the Book of Odes5 (Shih-ching, Shikyõ). Like the early shih, the Hsin-hsin Ming consists of lines that are 4-characters in length, but contrary to most shih, no end rhyme is employed in the poem.

         As a characteristic of shih, one line usually constitutes a single syntactical unit. Since one character represents one syllable, and since classical Chinese is basically monosyllabic, this means that there are usually four words to a line. Lines tend to be end-stopped, with few run-on lines, so that the efffect is of a series of brief and compact utterances.

         This concise form of four characters a line is shorter than the general run of Chinese verse, which usually has five or seven characters per line. Economy, even starkness of expression is a characteristic of the Hsin-hsin Ming. It is more of a verse than poetry and its brevity is one of the peculiar characteristics of this famous work. Its contents is closer to the Buddhist sûtras than poems. In fact, the Hsin-hsin Ming can be regarded as a sûtra. Many verses are like a short Zen saying and therefore can be taken as if they are a single-sentence Zen maxim. The original text was not divided in stanzas. Some translators divided the poem in different ways, with or without adding numbers to them.

         The Hsin-hsin Ming has an important place In Ch'an Buddhist tradition. The poem has been very influential in Zen circles and many important commentaries were written on it. The opening stanza, "The best way is not difficult. It only excludes picking and choosing," is quoted by many Zen masters as well as in the classical Zen works such as the Blue Cliff Records6. Along with the following influential poems, it is considered as a poem which reveals the essence of Zen philosophy:


1. Song of Realizing the Way

    Cheng-tao-ko (Shõdõka, 證道歌)

    (variant title 証道歌)

    by Ch'an master Yung-chieh Hsüan-chüeh (Yõka Genkaku, 655-713 嘉玄覺)

2. Harmony of Difference and Sameness

    Ts'an-t'ung-ch'i (Sandõkai 參同契)

    by Ch'an master Shih-t'ou Hsi-ch'ien (Sekitõ Kisen, 700-790 石頭希遷)

3. Song of Precious Mirror Samadhi

    Pao-ching San-mei-ko (Hõkyõ Zanmaika 寶鏡三昧歌)

    by Ch'an master Tung-shan Liang-chieh (Tõsan Ryõkai, 807-869 洞山良价)

4. Mind Inscription

    Hsin Ming (Shinmei 心銘)

    by Ch'an master Niu‑t'ou Fa-jung (Gozu Hõ, 594-657 牛頭法)

5. Mind King Inscription

    Hsin-wang Ming (Shinnõmei 心王銘)

    by Ch'an master Fu-hsi (Fukyû, ?-569 傅翕)


The title of the work bears resemblance to three previously composed poems:


1. Mind King Inscription

    Hsin-wang Ming (Shinnõmei 心王銘)

    by Ch'an master Fu-hsi (Fukyû, ?-569 傅翕)

2. Inscription of Stopping the Mind

    Hsi-hsin Ming (Sokushinmei 息心銘)

    by Chou dynasty (1050-256 b.c.) Ch'an master Wang-ming (Bõmei 亡名)

3. Enlightenment-Mind Inscription

    Wu-hsin Ming (Goshinmei 悟心銘)

    by Elder Yüan-yin (Yüan-yin Lao-jen; Gen'on Rõnin 元音老人)


Another important Ch'an poem Mind Inscription (Hsin Ming; Shinmei 心銘), bears a similar title and it is influenced by the Hsin-hsin Ming. This poem attributed to Ch'an master Niu‑t'ou Fa-jung7 (Gozu Hõ) has many points in common with the Hsin-hsin Ming, their contents as well as styles are similar.

         A unique aspect of the Hsin-hsin Ming is the particular Taoist concepts it contains, the poem, therefore, blends together Buddhist and Taoist teachings. Words of Taoist origin such as non‑action (wu‑wei8), no‑mind (wu‑hsin9), one‑mind (i-hsin10), spontaneity (tzu‑jan11), vacuity (hsü12), and deep meaning (hsüan-chih13) clearly shows the profound influence that Taoism had on Zen.



1  Four-character (four-word) (ssu-yen 四言)

2  Verse (kou )

3  Character (tzu )

4  Shih ()

5  Shih-ching (Shikyõ 詩經   詩経)

6  Case 57, Pi-yen Lu (Hekiganroku 碧巖   碧巌録)

7  Niu‑t'ou Fa-jung (Gozu Hõ, 594-657 牛頭法)


9  無心

10 一心

11 自然


13 玄旨


The following quotations contain further information on the Hsin-hsin Ming:


Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi Rõshi

The famous Hsin hsin ming (Jap: Shin jin mei) is known as the first Zen poem. It consists of 146 four-word lines, directly and vividly expressing the Zen spirit in a simple, compact form. An outstanding characteristic of the poem is that it is written in genuine Chinese without using any Sanskrit or Pali Buddhist terms.

         The main themes expressed in the Hsin hsin ming derive from Two Entries and Four Acts, one of the few authentic writings of the great Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma, who brought Buddhism from India to China in the sixth century. The roots of Bodhidharma's work can be traced to the Vimalakirtinirdesa Sutra, written sometime before the third century c.e. in India. Even though authorship of the Hsin hsin ming is traditionally attributed to the Third Patriarch, Chien-chih Seng-ts'an (Jap: Kanchi Sosan), the idioms employed in the poem have caused some scholars to place the date of its composition in a later year.

[. . .]

         The title Hsin hsin ming is translated as Verses on the Faith Mind. The title of a poem is sometimes likened to the forehead, which expresses a person's unique characteristics. In Hsin hsin ming, hsin is generally understood as "faith." However, the word is also used in a different sense in the context of the verses, as, for example, at the very end:


            Hsin hsin pu erh      信心不二

            Faith mind are not two

            Pu erh hsin hsin       不二信心

            Nondual faith mind


The translator renders these lines as:


            To live in this faith is the road to nonduality

            because the nondual is one with the trusting mind.


In this context, faith does not have the usual meaning of "having faith in something," but rather that faith is the very fact of existence or reality itself. Dogen Zenji says, "Without attaining Buddhahood, the faith won't manifest. Where the faith manifests, Buddhas and Patriarchs manifest" (Shobogenzo). The Nirvana Sutra says, "Great faith is no other than Buddha nature." Kozan Garyu says that "one thousand seven hundred koans are all together the expression of this mind."

         The word ming means "written expression" and also "warnings or admonitions," hence the title means "the verbal expression of the fact that the very nature of existence and of all the phenomenal world are no other than the faith mind." The Hsin hsin ming declares:


            Although all dualities come from the one

            Do not be attached even to this One.


That is to say, at the bottom of the two there is one and at the bottom of one there is zero. And that zero is "just this," the unborn one Mind, which is the faith mind.

         From the time of its composition up to the present day, the Hsin hsin ming has been published and translated repeatedly by various scholars and appreciated by different Chinese and Japanese masters, who have written numerous commentaries on it. The masters' frequent references to the poem have authenticated it as a genuine expression of the spirit of Zen.

         In the Sung dynasty, the verse Hsin hsin ming nien-ku of Chen-hsieh Ch'ing-liao (Jap: Shinketsu Seiryo, 1088-1151) was the first major commentary. Two centuries later, in the Yuan dynasty, Chung-feng Ming-pen (Jap: Chuho Myohun, 1263-1323) commented on the Hsin hsin ming. In 1667, during the Ming dynasty, Wei-lin (Jap: I Rin) wrote Hsin hsin ming chu-yu (Jap: Jakugo).

         The founder of the Japanese Soto School, Dogen Zenji (1200-1253), quoted a number of passages from the Hsin hsin ming in his Eihei-koroku, written in Chinese. In 1303, Keizan Zenji, the cofounder of the Japanese Soto School, wrote the most famous Japanese commentaries on the verse, known as the Hsin hsin ming nentei ("Teisho on the Hsin hsin ming). In 1781, during the Edo period, Kozan Garyu wrote a commentary, the Hsin hsin ming yatosui, which also contains Chen-hsieh Ch'ing-liao's verse and Keizan's Nentei. Rinzai master Isshi Benshu (1608-1646) also wrote a major commentary in Japanese entitled the Hsin hsin ming benchu.

         In modern times, several Japanese commentaries have been written. Among the most famous are the commentaries by Kodo Sawaki Roshi on Keizan Zenji's Hsin hsin ming nentei and by Kodo Akino Roshi on Kozan Garyu's Hsin hsin ming yatosui. In addition, Ian Kishizawa Roshi has written the Hsin hsin ming kattoshu. D.T. Suzuki also gave concise, pithy comments on the Hsin hsin ming. The most recent commentary was written by Koun Yamada Roshi. (The Eye That Never Sleeps xv-xviii)


Thomas Cleary

"Huike's successor Sengcan, is traditionally credited with authorship of 'The Trusting Heart,' one of the earliest and most enduringly popular works on Zen. Quotations from this favorite work appear throughout later Zen literature. Generally speaking, it is a guide to Zen meditation, but the unifying theme is mental balance. Many of the Zen instructions translated in the present volume are very much in the spirit of this early Zen classic." (Zen Essence 93)


Heinrich Dumoulin

"a poem attributed to the Third Patriarch, Seng-ts'an (d. 606), 'Words Inscribed on the Believing Mind.' Part of the poem reads: 'When the one mind does not arise, the myriad things (dharma) are no obstacle./When there is no obstacle, no thing appears./And when no thing appears, there is no mind.' As D.T. Suzuki makes clear in his English paraphrase, these verses should not be understood in a nihilistic sense. The key idea of the poem is the unity of nondualistic reality. For the enlightened mind, all duality is overcome."

(Zen Buddhism: A History, Japan 280)


Christmas Humphreys

"Here, then, to conclude, is an extract from the glorius poem of the third Chinese Patriarch Seng-ts'an which he called 'On Trust in the Heart'. It may be asked why, as it seems the most simple, it is put at the end of so much harder reading. The answer is that although it is simple it is at the same time enormously profound, and until it is realized that these are not moral maxims for the class-room, but fragments from a vast and deep experience, the quintessence of all the teaching that has gone before, they will not be appreciated at their true value." (Zen – A Way of Life 127)


Author Unknown

Suzuki sensei's fine translation of Seng-ts'an's 'Hsin-hsin-ming' ('On Believing in Mind,' pages 76-82), the very first verse treatise on Zen – which in the original Chinese takes up just two thirds of a page in the more than 100,000 pages of 'Taisho' – a text which embodies the quintessence of Zen and that deserves to be far better known.

(From a book review of Manual of Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki)


The Original Text


The original text of the Hsin-hsin Ming with obsolete Chinese ideograms.




































The Text with Japanese "Current Characters" (Tõyõ Kanji)


In the following text, the obsolete characters in the original text are replaced with newer, simplified characters used in contemporary Japanese. These newer characters are indicated with gray font color.





















Translation of the Text


Translated by Prof. Dusan Pajin of Belgrade University, Yugoslavia











it only excludes picking and choosing.


it will enlighten itself.



and heaven and earth are set apart.


do not be for or against.



makes the mind sick.


it is useless to quiet thoughts.



with nothing lacking, nothing in excess.


there is no suchness.




do not dwell in emptiness.


everything will stop by itself.



and rest will move you again.


how will you know oneness?



you will miss in two ways.


following emptiness you are always behind it.



the more you will go astray.




                                    Faith-Mind Inscription




                                                   The best way is not difficult


                                                   Once you stop loving and hating



                                                   Depart for a hairbreadth


                                                   If you want it to appear



                                                   To set longing against loathing


                                                   Not knowing the deep meaning (of the way)



                                                   Complete it is like great vacuity


                                                   When you grasp and reject




                                                   Do not follow conditions,


                                                   Cherishing oneness in the hearth,



                                                   Rest to stop motion,


                                                   If you are merely in either,



                                                   Not understanding oneness


                                                   Expelling being you will be without it,



                                                   The more words and thoughts


and there is nothing you cannot understand.



following the outcome you lose the source.


and surpass the emptiness of things.


all have their cause in ignorance.




only abstain from views.


be careful not to pursue them.



and mind is lost in confusion.


however, do not even maintain the one.



then everything is without blame.


no arising, no mind.



the object is expelled when the subject sinks.


the subject is related to the object.



their origin is one emptiness.


evenly containing innumerable forms.




and you will not be for or against.


neither easy nor difficult.



now in haste, then too late.



                                                   Stop speaking, stop thinking



                                                   Return to the root and obtain the purport;


                                                   For a moment turn inward,


                                                   Changes that go on in emptiness




                                                   Do not seek the true,


                                                   Do not dwell in dual views,



                                                   The slightest trace of right and wrong


                                                   One being is the source of the two,



                                                   With one mind there is no arising,


                                                   No blame, no things;



                                                   The subject follows when the object ceases


                                                   The object is related to the subject



                                                   If you want to know these two


                                                   In one emptiness both are equal




                                                   Do not differentiate coarse and fine


                                                   The great way is all‑embracing



                                                   Small views are irresolute, full of doubt,


and you will go astray.



essence neither goes nor abides.


and go free of troubles.


it darkens, sinks and spoils.


of what use are strange and familiar?




do not dislike the six sense‑objects.


turns out equal to perfect awakenness.



the fool ties himself.


ignorance leads to preference.



is it not a great mistake?


awakening negates liking and disliking.



lead to absurd consideration.


why strive to grasp them?



away with this once for all.


all dreams stop by themselves.




all things are of one suchness.


resolutely neglect conditions.


                                                   Grasp beyond measure



                                                   Letting go leads to spontaneity,


                                                   Accord your nature with the way


                                                   Fettered thinking strays from the real,


                                                   To weary the spirit is not good;




                                                   In following the One vehicle


                                                   Not disliking the six sense‑objects



                                                   The wise performs through non‑action,


                                                   Things are not different,



                                                   To use the mind to hold the mind,


                                                   Out of confusion arise rest and disturbance;



                                                   All opposite sides


                                                   Dreams, illusions, flowers in the air,



                                                   Profit and loss, right and wrong;


                                                   If the eyes are not closed




                                                   If the mind does not discriminate


                                                   In the deep essence of one suchness



you return again to spontaneity.


and nothing can be compared.



set rest in motion and there is no resting.


how will one be for you?



and there is no principle or rule retained.


which stops every action.




true faith is firm and harmonized.


nothing to remember.



power of the mind is not exerted.


sense or feeling cannot fathom this.



there is neither other nor self.


only express non‑duality.



nothing is left out.


all belong to this teaching.



beyond a moment, or an eon.


everywhere in front of the eyes.




when boundaries are forgotten.


                                                   When all things are beheld as even


                                                   Put an end to the cause



                                                   Cease movement and no movement arises;


                                                   When both do not make a whole



                                                   Investigate to the end


                                                   Accord the mind with Impartiality




                                                   All doubts are cleared,


                                                   Nothing is detained,



                                                   Vacuous, enlightened, self‑illumined;


                                                   Thought is useless here,



                                                   In the real suchness of the thing‑realm


                                                   Swiftly to accord with that



                                                   In non-duality all is equal,


                                                   The wise from all directions



                                                   This teaching is not urgent, or extensive,


                                                   Not here, not there,




                                                   Very small and large are equal,


the limits cannot be seen.



with non‑being there is being.


do not hold on to it.



all is one.


worry not for finality.



Non‑duality is faith in mind.


with no past, present, future.



                                                   Very large and small are equal,



                                                   With being there is nonbeing,


                                                   If not so –



                                                   One is all,


                                                   Merely with such ability



                                                   Faith in mind is non‑dual.


                                                   Discourse here stops –





Chinese and Japanese Transcriptions of the Text


For those who want to read the Hsin-hsin Ming in Chinese or Japanese, Chinese and Japanese transcriptions of the text are given here.

         Throughout this article, the Tun-huang manuscript version of the text is used. As with most Chinese texts, there are minor differences between various versions of the Hsin-hsin Ming. Variant lines and characters in the Taishõ Daizõkyõ (vol. 48, No. 2010) version are indicated in this section.


1 First lines are Chinese readings (Wade-Giles transcription system).

2 Second lines are Chinese readings (Pinyin transcription system).

3 Third lines are Japanese readings (kanbun yomi kudashi) according to Hepburn transcription system (Hebonshiki).

4 Fourth lines are the translations of Dusan Pajin.

Variant lines and characters are indicated on the right side.


When pronunciations or English translations of the variant characters are the same as the original characters, no variant pronunciations or translations are given.



               1  至道無難 唯嫌揀擇

                  Chih-tao wu-nan. Wei hsien chien-tse.

                  Zhi4dao2 wu2nan2. Wei2 xian2 jian3ze2.

                  Shidõ bunan. Tada kenjaku o kirau. (Shidõ bunan. Yui ken kenjaku.)

                  The best way is not difficult. It only excludes picking and choosing.


               3  但莫憎愛 洞然明白

                  Tan mo tseng-ai, tung-jan ming-pai.

                  Dan4 mo4 zeng1ai4, dong4ran2 ming2bai2.

                  Tada zõai nakunba, tõnen to shite meihaku nari.

                  Once you stop loving and hating, it will enlighten itself.


               5  毫釐有差 天地懸隔

                  Hao li yu ch'a, t'ien-ti hsüan ke.

                  Hao2 li2 you3 cha1, tian1di4 xuan2 ge2.

                  Gõri mo sha areba, tenchi haruka ni hedataru.

                  Depart for a hairbreadth, and heaven and earth are set apart.


               7  欲得現前 莫存順逆

                  Yü te hsien-ch'ien, mo ts'un shun-ni.

                  Yu4 de2 xian4qian2, mo4 cun2 shun4ni4.

                  Genzen o en to hosseba, jungyaku o zon suru nakare.

                  If you want it to appear, do not be for or against.


               9  違順相爭 是爲心病

                  Wei-shun hsiang-cheng, shih wei hsin ping.

                  Wei2shun4 xiang1zheng1, shi4 wei2 xin1 bing4.

                  Ijun ai arasou, kore o shinbyõ to nasu.

                  To set longing against loathing, makes the mind sick.


             11  不識玄旨 徒勞念靜

                  Pu-shi hsüan-chi, tu lao nien-ching.

                  Bu4shi4 xuan2zhi3, tu2 lao2 nian4jing4.

                  Genshi o shirazareba, itazura ni nenjõ ni rõ su.

                  Not knowing the deep meaning (of the way), it is useless to quiet thoughts.


             13  圓同太虚 無欠無餘

                  Yüan-t'ung tai-hsü, wu-chien, wu-yü.

                  Yuan2tong2 tai4xu1, wu2qian4, wu2yu2.

                  Madoka naru koto taikyo ni onaji, kakuru koto naku, amaru koto nashi.

                  Complete it is like great vacuity, with nothing lacking, nothing in excess.


             15  良由取捨 所以不如

                  Liang yu ch'u-she, so-i pu-ju.

                  Liang2 you2 qu3she3, suo3yi3 bu4ru2.

                  Makoto ni shusha ni yoru, yue ni funyo nari.

                  When you grasp and reject, there is no suchness.


             17  莫逐有縁 勿住空忍

                  Mo chu yu yüen, wu chu kung jen.

                  Mo4 zhu2 you3 yuan2, wu4 zhu4 kong1 ren3.

                  Uen o ou koto nakare, kûnin ni jû suru koto nakare.

                  Do not follow conditions, do not dwell in emptiness.


             19  一種平懷 泯然自盡

                  I-cheng p'ing huai, ming-jan tzu chin.

                  Yi1zhong3 ping2 huai2, min3ran2 zi4 jin4.

                  Isshu heikai nareba, minnen to shite onozu kara tsuku.

                  Cherishing oneness in the hearth, everything will stop by itself.


             21  止動歸止 止更彌動


□□□□  二□□□




                  Chih tung kui chih, chih keng mi tung.

                  Zhi3 dong4 gui1 zhi3, zhi3 geng4 mi2 dong4.

                  Dõ o yamete ki ni shi sureba, shi sara ni iyoiyo dõzu.

                  Rest to stop motion, and rest will move you again.


             23  唯滯兩邊 寧知一種

                  Wei chih liang-pien, ning chih i-chung?

                  Wei2 zhi4 liang3bian1, ning2 zhi1 yi1zhong3?

                  Tada ryõhen ni todokooraba, nanzo isshu o shiran ya?

                  If you are merely in either, how will you know oneness?


             25  一種不通 兩處失功

                  I-chung pu-t'ung, liang-ch'u shih kung.

                  Yi1zhong3 bu4tong1, liang3chu3 shi1 gong1.

                  Isshu tsûzezareba, ryõsho ni kõ o shissu.

                  Not understanding oneness, you will miss in two ways.


             27  遣有沒有 從空背空

                  Ch'ien yu mei yu, ts'ung kung pei kung.

                  Qian3 you3 mei2 you3, cong2 kong1 bei4 kong1.

                  U o yareba u o bosshi, kû ni shitagaeba kû ni somuku.

                  Expelling being you will be without it, following emptiness you are always behind it.


             29  多言多慮 轉不相應

                  To yen, to lu chuan pu hsiang-ying.

                  Duo1 yan2, duo1 lu4 zhuan3 bu4 xiang1ying4.

                  Tagon, taryo utata sõõ sezu.

                  The more words and thoughts the more you will go astray


             31  絶言絶慮 無處不通

                  Chüeh yen, chüeh lu wu-ch'u pu-t'ung.

                  Jue2 yan2, jue2 lu4 wu2chu3 bu4tong1.

                  Zetsugon, zetsuryo tokoro to shite tsûzezu to iu koto nashi.

                  Stop speaking, stop thinking and there is nothing you cannot understand.


             33  歸根得旨 隨照失宗

                  Kui ken te chih. Sui chao shih tsung.

                  Gui1 gen1 de2 zhi3. Sui2 zhao4 shi1 zong1.

                  Kon ni ki sureba shi o e. Shõ ni shitagaeba shû o shissu.

                  Return to the root and obtain the purport. Following the outcome you lose the source.


             35  須臾返照 勝卻前空

                  Hsü-yü fan-chao, sheng-ch'üeh ch'ien-kung.

                  Xu1yu2 fan3zhao4, sheng4que4 qian2kong1.

                  Shuyu mo hanshõ sureba, zenkû ni shõkyaku su.

                  For a moment turn inward, and surpass the emptiness of things.


             37  前空轉變 皆由妄見

                  Ch'ien-kung chuan-pien chieh yu wang-chien.

                  Qian2kong1 zhuan3bian4 jie1 you2 wang4jian4.

                  Zenkû no tenpen wa mina mõken ni yoru.

                  Changes that go on in emptiness all have their cause in ignorance.


             39  不用求眞 唯須息見

                  Pu-yung ch'iu chen, wei hsü hsi-chien.

                  Bu4yong4 qiu2 zhen1, wei2 xu1 xi2jian4.

                  Shin o motomuru koto o mochiizare, tada subekaraku ken o yamu beshi.


□□□□ □勿□□




                  Do not seek the true, only abstain from views.


             41  二見不住 慎莫追尋

                  Erh-chien pu-chu, chen mo chui-hsün.

                  Er4jian4 bu4zhu4, shen4 mo4 zhui1xun2.

                  Niken ni jûsezu, tsutsushinde tsuijin suru koto nakare.

                  Do not dwell in dual views, be careful not to pursue them.


             43  纔有是非 紛然失心

                  Ts'ai yu shih-fei fen-jan shih hsin.

                  Cai2 you3 shi4fei1 fen1ran2 shi1 xin1.

                  Wazuka ni zehi areba funnen to shite shin o shissu.

                  The slightest trace of right and wrong and mind is lost in confusion.


             45  二由一有 一亦莫守

                  Erh yu i yu, i i mo shou.

                  Er4 you2 yi1 you3, yi1 yi4 mo4 shou3.

                  Ni wa itsu ni yotte ari, itsu mo mata mamoru koto nakare.

                  One being is the source of the two, however, do not even maintain the one.


             47  一心不生 萬法無咎

                  I-hsin pu-sheng, wang-fa wu-chiu.


□□□正 □□□□



                  Yi1xin1 bu4sheng1, wan4fa3 wu2jiu4.

                  Isshin shõzezareba, manpõ toga nashi.

                  With one mind there is no arising, then everything is without blame.


             49  無咎無法 不生不心

                  Wu-chiu, wu-fa. Pu-sheng, pu-hsin.

                  Wu2jiu4, wu2fa3. Bu4sheng1, bu4xin1.

                  Toga nakereba hõ nashi. Shõzezareba shin narazu.

                  No blame, no things. No arising, no mind.


             51  能隨境滅 境逐能沈

                  Neng sui ching mieh. Ching chu neng shen.

                  Neng2 sui2 jing4 mie4. Jing4 zhu2 neng2 shen3.

                  Nõ wa kyõ ni shitagatte messhi. Kyõ wa nõ o õte shizumu.

                  The subject follows when the object ceases. The object is expelled when the subject sinks.


             53  境由能境 能由境能

                  Ching yu neng ching. Neng yu ching neng.

                  Jing4 you2 neng2 jing4. Neng2 you2 jing4 neng2.

                  Kyõ wa nõ ni yotte kyõtari. Nõ wa kyõ no yotte nõtari.

                  The object is related to the subject. The subject is related to the object.


             55  欲知兩段 元是一空

□□兩同 □□□像

liang t'ung

liang3 tong2


                  Yü chih liang-tuan, yüen shih i-kung.

                  Yu4 zhi1 liang3duan4, yuan2 shi4 yi1kong1.

                  Ryõdan o shiran to hosseba, moto kore ikkû.

                  If you want to know these two, their origin is one emptiness.


             57  一空同兩 齊含萬象

                  I-kung liang t'ung, ch'i han wan-hsiang.

                  Yi1kong1 liang3 tong2, qi2 han2 wan4xiang4.

                  Ikkû ryõ ni onaji, hitoshiku banzõ o fukumu.

                  In one emptiness both are equal, evenly containing innumerable forms.


             59  不見精麁 寧有偏黨

                  Pu-chien ching-ts'u, ning yu p'ien-tang.

                  Bu4jian4 jing1cu1, ning2 you3 pian1dang3.

                  Seiso o mizareba, izukunzo hentõ aran ya.

                  Do not differentiate coarse and fine, and you will not be for or against.



□□□粗 □□□□

             61  大道體寛 無易無難

                  Ta-tao t'i-k'uan, wu-i, wu-nan.


□□□□ □難□易

wu-nan, wu-i

wu2nan2, wu2yi4

nan naku i nashi

neither difficult nor easy

                  Da4 dao4 ti3kuan1, wu2yi4, wu2nan2.

□□□□ 心□□□



shin jaro ni iru

and the mind will go astray

                  Daidõ taikan nari, i naku nan nashi.

                  The great way is all‑embracing, neither easy nor difficult.


             63  小見狐疑 轉急轉遲

                  Hsiao-chien hu-i, chuan chi, chuan ch'ih.

                  Xiao3jian4 hu2yi2, zhuan3 ji2, zhuan3 chi2.

                  Shõken wa kogi su, utata kyû nareba, utata ososhi.

                  Small views are irresolute, full of doubt, now in haste, then too late.


             65  執之失度  入邪路

                  Chih chih shih tu, pi ru hsie-lu.

                  Zhi2 zhi1 shi1 du4, bi4 ru4 xie2lu4.

                  Kore o shû sureba do o shisshi, kanarazu jaro ni iru.

                  Grasp beyond measure, and you will go astray.


             67  放之自然 體無去住

                  Fang chih tzu-jan, t'i wu-ch'ü-chu.

□□□□ 沈昏□□




sinks, darkens and spoils

                  Fang4 zhi1 zi4ran2, ti3 wu2qu4zhu4.

                  Kore o hanateba jinen nari, tai kyojû nashi.

                  Letting go leads to spontaneity, essence neither goes nor abides.


             69  任性合道 逍遙絶惱

                  Jen hsing ho tao, hsiao-yao chüeh nao.

                  Ren4 xing4 he2 dao4, xiao1yao2 jue2 nao3.

                  Shõ ni ninzureba dõ ni gassu, shõyõ to shite nõ o zessu.

                  Accord your nature with the way, and go free of troubles.


             71  繋念乖眞 昏沈不好

                  Chi-nien kuai chen, hun-shen pu-hao.

                  Ji4nian4 guai1 zhen1, hun1shen3 bu4hao3.

                  Kenen wa shin ni somuku, konchin wa fukõ nari.

                  Fettered thinking strays from the real, it darkens, sinks and spoils.


             73  不好勞神 何用疏親

                  Pu-hao lao shen. Ho yung shu-ch'ing?

                  Bu4hao3 lao2 shen2. He2 yong4 shu1qing4?

                  Fukõ nareba shin o rõ su. Nanzo soshin o mochiin?

                  To weary the spirit is not good. Of what use are strange and familiar?



□神□□ □□□□





□趣□□ □□□□



Ichijõ ni omomukan to hosseba

In following the One vehicle

             75  欲取一乘 勿惡六塵

                  Yü ch'u i-ch'eng, wu eh liu-ch'en.

                  Yu4 qu3 yi1cheng2, wu4 e4 liu4chen2.

                  Ichijõ o toran to hosseba, rokujin o nikumu koto nakare.

                  In taking the One vehicle, do not dislike the six sense‑objects.


             77  六塵不惡 還同正覺

                  Liu-ch'en pu-eh, hai t'ung cheng-chüeh.

                  Liu4chen2 bu4e4, hai2 tong2 zheng4jue2.

                  Rokujin nikumazareba kaette shõgaku ni onaji.

                  Not disliking the six sense‑objects turns out equal to perfect awakenness.


             79  智者無爲 愚人自縛

                  Chih-che wu-wei. Yü-jen tzu fu.

                  Zhi4zhe3 wu2 wei2. Yu2ren2 zi4 fu2.

                  Chisha wa mui nari. Gunin wa jibaku su.

                  The wise performs through non‑action. The fool ties himself.


             81  法無異法 妄自愛著

                  Fa wu-i fa, wang tzu ai-cho.

                  Fa3 wu2yi4 fa3, wang4 zi4 ai4-zhuo2.

                  Hõ ni ihõ nashi, midari ni mizukara aijaku su.

                  Things are not different, ignorance leads to preference.


             83  將心用心 豈非大錯

                  Chiang hsin yung hsin, ch'i fei ta ts'o?

                  Jiang1 xin1 yong4 xin1, qi3 fei1 da4 cuo4?

                  Shin o motte shin o mochiu, ani daijaku ni arazaran ya?

                  To use the mind to hold the mind, is it not a great mistake?


             85  迷生寂亂 悟無好惡

                  Mi sheng chi-luan. Wu wu-hao-eh.

                  Mi2 sheng1 ji2luan4. Wu4 wu2hao3e4.

                  Mayoeba jakuran o shõji. Satoreba kõo nashi.

                  Out of confusion arise rest and disturbance. Awakening negates liking and disliking.



□□□□ 妄□□

wang tzu

wang4 zi4

midari ni mizukara shinshaku su

unreasonably lead to absurd consideration

             87  一切二邊 良由斟酌

                  I-ch'ieh erh-pien liang yu chen-cho.

                  Yi1qie1 er4bian1 liang2 you2 zhen1zhuo2.

                  Issai nihen makoto ni shinshaku ni yoru.

                  All opposite sides lead to absurd consideration.


□亂空□ □□□□

Meng-lan, kung-hua

Meng4-lan4, kong1hua2

Muran, kûge.

Dreams, confusions, flowers in the air

             89  夢幻虚華 何勞把捉

                  Meng-huan, hsü-hua. Ho lao pa-cho?

                  Meng4-huan4, xu1hua2. He2 lao2 ba3zhuo1?

                  Muran, kûge. Nanzo hasoku o rõ sen.

                  Dreams, illusions, flowers in emptiness. Why strive to grasp them?


             91  得失是非 一時放卻

□□□眠 □□□□



                  Te-shih, shih-fei, i-shih fang-chüeh.

                  De2shi1, shi4fei1, yi1shi2 fang4que4.

                  Tokushitsu, zehi, ichiji ni hõkyaku seyo.

                  Profit and loss, right and wrong, away with this once for all.



□□□□ □□如一

ju i

ru2 yi1

manpõ ichi no gotoshi

all things are as one

             93  眼若不睡 諸夢自除

                  Yan jo pu-shui, chu-meng tzu ch'u.

                  Yan3 ruo4 bu4shui4, zhu1meng4 zi4 chu2.

                  Manako moshi nemurazareba, shõmu onozukara nozoku.

                  If the eyes are not closed, all dreams stop by themselves.



□□□□ 復歸□□



fukki jinen nari

             95  心若不異 萬法一如

                  Hsin jo pu-i, wan-fa i-ju.

                  Xin1 ruo4 bu4yi4, wan4fa3 yi1ru2.

                  Shin moshi inarazareba, manpõ ichinyo nari.

                  If the mind does not discriminate, all things are of one suchness.


             97  一如體玄 兀爾忘縁

                  I-ju t'i-hsüan, wu-erh wang yüan.

                  Yi1ru2 ti3xuan2, wu4er3 wang4 yuan2.

                  Ichinyo taigen nareba, gotsuni to shite en o bõzu.

                  In the deep essence of one suchness, resolutely neglect conditions.


             99  萬法齊觀 歸復自然

                  Wan-fa ch'i kuan, kui-fu tzu-jan.

                  Wan4fa3 qi2 guan1, gui1fu4 zi4ran2.

                  Manpõ hitoshiku kanzureba, kifuku jinen nari.

                  When all things are beheld as even, you return again to spontaneity.


           101  泯其所以 不可方比

                  Ming ch'i so-i, pu-k'o fang-pi.

                  Ming3 qi2 suo3yi3, bu4ke3 fang1bi3.

                  Sono yuen o minseba, hõhi subekarazu.

                  Put an end to the cause, and nothing can be compared.


           103  止動無動 動止無止

                  Chih tung wu-tung. Tung chih wu-chih.

                  Zhi3 dong4 wu2dong4. Dong4 zhi3 wu2zhi3.

                  Dõ o yamureba dõ naku, shi o dõzureba shi nashi.

                  Cease movement and no movement arises. Set rest in motion and there is no resting.


           105  兩既不成 一何有爾

                  Liang-chi pu-ch'eng, i ho yu erh?

                  Liang3 ji4 bu4cheng2, yi1 he2 you3 er3?

                  Ryõ sude ni narazu, itsu nanzo shika aran?

                  When both do not make a whole, how will one be for you?


           107  究竟窮極 不存軌則

                  Chiu-ching ch'iung-chi, pu-ts'un kui-tse.


啓□□□ □□□□




Open your mind to Impartiality

                  Jiu4jing4 qiong2ji2, bu4cun2 gui3ze2.


□□□□ □□所有

so yu

suo3 you3

itsu nanzo shõyû?

how will you have one?

                  Kukyõ kyûkyoku, kisoku o zon suru koto nakare.

                  Investigate to the end, and there is no principle or rule retained.


           109  契心平等 所作倶息

                  Ch'i-hsin p'ing-teng, so-chuo chü hsi.

                  Qi4xin1 ping2deng3, suo3zuo4 ju1 xi2.

                  Kaishin heitõ nareba, shosa tomo ni yamu.

                  Accord the mind with Impartiality, which stops every action.


           111  狐疑盡淨 正信調直

                  Hu-i chin-ching, chen-hsin tiao-chih.

                  Hu2yi2 jin4jing4, zheng4xin4 diao4zhi2.

                  Kogi jõjin sureba, shõshin chõjiki nari.

                  All doubts are cleared, true faith is firm and harmonized.


           113  一切不留 無可記憶

                  I-ch'ieh pu-liu, wu-k'o chi-i.

                  Yi1qie1 bu4liu2, wu2ke3 ji4yi4.

                  Issai todomarazareba, kioku su beki nashi.

□□□然  or  □□□性

tzu-jan              tzu-hsing

zi4-ran2              zi4xing4

jinen                  jishõ

spontaneous     Empty and enlighten

                        your self-nature

                  Nothing is detained, nothing to remember.


           115  虚明自照 不勞心力

                  Hsü-ming, tzu-chao, pu-lao hsin-li.

                  Xu1ming2 zi4zhao4, bu4lao2 xin1li4.

                  Komei jishõ nareba, shinriki rõ sezu.

                  Vacuous, enlightened, self‑illumined, power of the mind is not exerted.


           117  非思量處 識情難測

                  Fei-ssu-liang ch'u, shih-ch'ing nan ts'e.

                  Fei1si1liang4 chu3, shi4qing2 nan2 ce4.

                  Hishiryõ no sho, shikijõ hakari gatashi.

                  Thought is useless here, sense or feeling cannot fathom this.


           119  眞如法界 無他無自

                  Chen-ju fa-chieh, wu-t'a, wu-tzu.

                  Zhen1ru2 fa3jie4, wu2ta1, wu2zi4.

                  Shinnyo hokkai wa, ta naku, ji nashi.

                  In the real suchness of the thing‑realm, there is neither other nor self.


           121  要急相應 唯言不二

                  Yao chi hsiang-ying, wei yen pu-erh.

                  Yao4 ji2 xiang1ying4, wei2 yan2 bu4er4.

                  Kyû ni sõõ sen to yõseba, tada funi to iu.

                  Swiftly to accord with that, only express non‑duality.


           123  不二皆同 無不包容

                  Pu-erh chieh t'ung, wu pu-pao-jung.

                  Bu4er4 jie1 tong2, wu2 bu4bao1rong2.

                  Funi nareba mina onaji, hõyõ sezu to iu koto nashi.

                  In non-duality all is equal, nothing is left out.


           125  十方智者 皆入此宗

                  Shih-fang chih-che chieh ju tz'u tsung.

                  Shi2fang1 zhi4zhe3 jie1 ru4 ci3 zong1.

                  Jippõ no chisha, mina kono shû ni iru.

                  The wise from all directions all belong to this teaching.


           127  宗非促延 一念萬年

                  Tsung fei ts'u-yen, i-nien, wan-nien,

                  Zong1 fei1 cu4yan2, yi1nian4, wan4nian2,

                  Shû wa sokuen ni arazu, ichinen, bannen.

                  This teaching is not urgent, or extensive, beyond a moment, or an eon,


           129  無在不在 十方目前

                  Wu tsai pu-tsai, shih-fang mu-ch'ien.

                  Wu2 zai4 bu4 zai4, shi2fang1 mu4qian2.

                  Zai mo fuzai mo naku, jippõ mokuzen.

                  Not here, not there, everywhere in front of the eyes.


           131  極小同大  忘絶境界

                  Chi-hsiao t'ung ta. Wang-chüeh ching-chieh,

                  Ji2xiao3 tong2 da4. Wang2jue2 jing4jie4,

                  Gokushõ wa dai ni onaji. Kyõgai o bõzetsu su.

                  Very small and large are equal. When boundaries are forgotten,


           133  極大同小 不見邊表

                  Chi-ta t'ung hsiao, pu-chien pien-piao.

                  Ji2da4 tong2 xiao3, bu4jian4 bian1biao3.

                  Gokudai wa shõ ni onaji, henpyõ o mizu.

                  Very large and small are equal, the limits cannot be seen.


           135  有即是無 無即是有

                  Yu chi shih wu. Wu chi shih yu.

                  You3 ji2 shi4 wu2. Wu2 ji2 shi4 you3.

                  U wa sunawachi kore mu. Mu wa sunawachi kore u.

                  With being there is nonbeing. With non‑being there is being.

□□□□ 妄□□□



mõzetsu su

When boundaries are irrelevant


           137  若不如此 必不須守

                  Jo pu-ju tz'u pi pu hsü shou.

□□□是 □□相□



mamoru koto o sõ sezu


                  Ruo4 bu4ru2 ci3 bi4 bu4 xu1 shou3.

                  Moshi kaku no gotoku narazareba, kanarazu mamoru koto o mochiizare.

                  If not so – do not hold on to it.


           139  一即一切 一切即一

                  I chi i-ch'ieh, i-ch'ieh chi i

                  Yi1 ji2 yi1qie1, yi1qie1 ji2 yi1

                  Issoku issai, issai sokuitsu.

                  One is all, all is one –


           141  但能如是 何慮不畢

                  Tan neng ju shih, ho lu pu-pi.

                  Dan4 neng2 ru2 shi4, he2 lu4 bu4bi4.

                  Tada yoku kaku no gotoku nareba, nanzo fuhitsu o omonpakaran.

                  Merely with such ability, worry not for finality.


           143  信心不二 不二信心

                  Hsin-hsin pu-erh. Pu-erh hsin-hsin.

                  Xin4xin1 bu4er4. Bu4er4 xin4xin1.

                  Shinjin funi. Funi shinjin.

□□□□ □□□



                  Faith in mind is non‑dual. Non‑duality is faith in mind.


           145  言語道斷 非去來今

                  Yen-yü tao tuan – fei chu lai chin.

                  Yan2yu3 dao4 duan4 – fei1qu4 lai2 jin1.

                  Gongo dõdan – koraikon ni arazu.

                  Discourse here stops – with no past, present, future.



An Analysis of the Hsin-hsin Ming


The following is an analysis of the Hsin-hsin Ming by Prof. Dusan Pajin of Belgrade University, Yugoslavia. The article is published in the following resources:


• "On Faith in Mind". Journal of Oriental Studies, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, Hong Kong 1988, pp. 270-288.


• "On Faith in Mind – Hsin Hsin Ming and Early Ch'an". Proceedings of the XXII International Congress for Asian and North African

   Studies, Hamburg; in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Supplement IX, Stuttgart 1992, p. 344


This article can be also viewed in the following sites: (click on the link "Articles")


This article can be downloaded in document (.doc) format from:


(The article in the above sites do not contain Chinese characters. The Chinese characters in the footnotes are added for this web page.)



On Faith in Mind – Translation and Analysis of the Hsin-hsin Ming


By Prof. Dr. Dusan Pajin, Belgrade University, Yugoslavia


Since Leng‑chia Shih‑tzu Chia was discovered,1 Seng‑ts'an's authorship of the Hsin‑hsin Ming has been doubted, because of the remark that Seng-ts'an did not put any writings into circulation. Ui 2 proposed that Seng-ts'an, perhaps, only recited the text, otherwise written by someone else. Nishitani and Yanagida3 added some further arguments, considering that the text was written in the eighth century, two centuries after Seng‑ts'an. This was accepted as valid by other authors.4 [a 楞伽師資記]


Contributions of the Hsin-hsin Ming

Dumoulin5 was among the first to recognize that in many passages the composition of Hsin‑hsin Ming is akin to the Avatamsaka Sutra, especially the closing stanzas (30‑36).

         Actually, there is some resemblance between the concepts of one mind (stanza 123, oneness (stanzas 5,6,7) and one vehicle (stanza 19) in Hsin‑hsin Ming, and equivalent concepts developed in Hua‑yenb. However, the obviously common subjects of Hsin‑hsin Ming and Hua‑yen are relativity and interpenetration of time and space dimensions (in stanzas 32‑33), equality of things (st. 33) and the famous "one is all, all is one"c principle (st. 35), which are explained later in detail (in "Analysis of the Text" – related to sections VII and VIII of the Hsin-hsin Ming). On such grounds we can conclude that this text should be – at least partly – related also with the Hua‑yen tradition (i.e., not exclusively with Ch'an). [b 華嚴   c 一即一切、一切即一]

         We can outline two significant contributions of the Hsin‑hsin ming to the overall tradition of Chinese Buddhism.


a.    The first is "faith in mind", which could be considered as a "Ch'anist" response to the Buddhism of faith (Pure Land d), since the object of faith is not Amitabhae, but mind as a means of awakening. [d 浄土   e 阿弥陀]

b.   The second contribution is the principle of oneness (i‑chungf). It is particularly mentioned in stanzas 5, 6 and 7. Otherwise, it is the running idea of the whole text, continually warning against various dualities: liking‑disliking (stanzas 1, 19, 21), grasping‑rejecting (st. 3), conditions/form‑emptiness (st. 5, 14), motion‑rest (st. 6, 21, 26), truth‑views (st. 10), right‑wrong (st. It, 23), things/dharmas‑mind (st. 123, subject‑object (st. 133), coarse‑fine (st. 15), strange‑familiar (st. 18), sense‑objects/awakeness (st. 19), things/dharmas‑suchness (st. 24), profit-loss (st. 23) other‑self (st. 25, 30), moment‑eon (st. 32), here‑there (st. 32), small‑large (st. 33), one‑all (st. 35). These dualities should be refuted or transcended with the perspective of one mind – in emptiness and real suchness. [f 一種]


Broadly speaking, Hsin‑hsin Ming is an elegant exposition of prajna (principles), and dhyana (practice). With approximation, we can say that sections I, V, and VI mostly deal with principles (oneness, one mind, emptiness, suchness), sections II. III, and IV mostly expose practice, while sections VII, and VIII describe the results of such practice, and applied principles.


Problems of Translating

In translating ancient religious and philosophical texts, one of the major problems is to decide – in case it is not a terminus technicus per se whether a certain word (in our case, a Chinese character) is used colloquially, or as a terminus technicus. On such a decision sometimes depends not only the appropriate translation of a particular word, but the proper understanding of the whole passage, as well. To decide, we should know the tradition of the text and have in mind the context, as well as previous commentaries, if such exist (nevertheless, these can also be misleading, since in many cases they are comments, not for the sake of interpreting, but in order to give support and authority of the tradition to the thoughts of their respective authors).

         The second problem is that the translator uses a language the words of which have the same ambiguity (colloquial‑technical) as the original language, or a vocabulary which (itself) lacks the necessary technical terms. This can be solved by using capitals, italics, etc. Also, one of the solutions for translating Chinese Buddhist texts was to use the Sanskrit terms as technical, in the same manner as in European philosophy one would use Greek or Latin, instead of native words, in order to convey the technical meaning and avoid ambiguity.

         Meaning is developed through use. For example, for "awakening" or "enlightenment" no one uses capitals; through lengthy use it is supposed that these will not be misunderstood (that they will be understood as technical terms in a Buddhist context, and not in colloquial meaning). But some terms (One, Way, Void, Suchness) are still written with capitals. For translations from Chinese it is still customary to use Sanskrit equivalents to pinpoint the meaning, or when the terms from European languages are not good enough. For example, Chinese fag is better translated with Sanskrit dharma, than with "things" (as was done in this translation – but, to use "dharma" supposes that the reader is more familiar with Sanskrit, than with the Chinese, which, for the average person is not the case). [g ]

         Wing‑tsit Chan remarked that "Without adequate tools to help them, many translators have rendered technical terms in their popular meanings".6 Fortunately, some sixty years ago, Soothill and Hodous,7 filled the gap for Chinese Buddhist terms with their dictionary. However, their dictionary was possible thanks to the work done some 1500 years ago, by generations of Chinese Buddhists, who translated Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Chinese, using and standardizing certain Chinese characters as technical terms (equivalents) for Sanskrit terms.

         In order to proceed with the analysis of the Hsin‑hsin Ming, and its general meaning in the context of Chinese Buddhism, particularly Ch'an, we propose a new translation. Originally, the text, as presented in Taisho (Taisho shinshu daizokyoh) No. 2010, was not divided in stanzas. The translators, excepting Suzuki, were faithful to this form. In the second version of his translation Suzuki has added numbers to the stanzas, in which he grouped the lines of the poem (his first translation, let it be remarked, omits four verses of stanza 6).10 In order to make possible easy reference for the analysis we have also divided the poem in stanzas, but this "versification" differs from Suzuki's version. However, in the right hand row we have given the numbers of his stanzas in brackets (for those who want to compare the translations). For easy reference we also suggest a division of the text into eight (principal) parts, notated with Roman numerals (I-VIII). [h 大正新修大藏經  大正新修大蔵経]


Analysis of the Text

Now we shall proceed with the analysis of the text, section by section (I‑VIII), explaining technical terms, their meaning in the context of Chinese Buddhism, and the main ideas of the text. When necessary we shall also reach for the wider context of Indian Buddhism, in order to explain the history of certain concepts.



Hsin‑hsin Ming mentions faith (hsini) in its title and in the concluding stanza (36). We know that faith (Skt. sraddha) in Buddhism is one of the five qualities for making progress on the path (Skt. marga). Various texts speak of faith in Buddha (Tathagataj), the Buddhist doctrine (Dharmak), as well as Buddhist community, or assembly (Sanghal). In certain Mahayanic texts (Sukhavativyuha, Mahayanasraddhotpada, Amitayurdhyana) faith has been promoted as a principal quality, and an agent of salvation. K.N. Jayatilleke11 has indicated three aspects of faith in early Buddhism: affective, conative and cognitive. In later Buddhism a theistic aspect of faith is introduced, and faith is redefined. Sakyamuni as a historical person is enveloped by a deified transhistorical Buddha. The faith that Sakyamuni attained at awakening, (which is – under certain conditions and precepts – repeatable for other Buddhists), has been transformed into a faith (related to worship and reverence) that salvation is based on a transcendental, omnipotent, transhistorical principle (Adi-Buddha), and bestowed to the faithful, with compassion, as grace from his emanations (other Buddhas, and bodhisattvas). [i    j 如來   k    l 僧伽]

         With this background, "faith in mind"m is an original contribution of Hsin‑hsin Ming. It introduces the meditative aspect of faith, based on mind-doctrine affirmed in Ch'an. To have "faith in mind" means to have faith that awakening will follow when the mind "returns to the root (or source)"n and stops discriminating (realizes one-ness). It is based on a common denominator present in all sects of Ch'an tradition: "Mind is the root of the myriad phenomena... If you can completely comprehend mind, the myriad practices are completed".12 [m 信心   n 歸根]

         In the first stanza of Hsin‑hsin Ming we encounter the refutation of dualities. Perhaps, the author—whoever he was—was aware of the paradox, rather common in Taoism and Ch'an, when he said that the best way is not difficult, under the condition which is most difficult for humans: to stop loving and hating, picking and choosing.

         The first four stanzas bear a definitely Taoist influence (compare Lao‑tzu, I). They banish feelings and duality, connecting the way with vacuity (hsuo) and deep meaning (hsuan chihp). In relation to vacuity (hsu) we should emphasize the difference in meaning between this character in Taoism and the meaning of emptiness (k'ungq) in Buddhism. Lao‑tzu (Ch. II) proposes the ideal of a "vacuous" (hsu) heart for man, that is, of peace and purity of mind, freedom from worry and egoism. To maintain this vacuity (according to Lao‑tzu, Ch. 15‑16) is to be open for the tao and its way, "open and broad, like a valley". It means to keep the receptive, feminine aspect of mind, in order to be able to accord with the tao. Emptiness (k'ung) will be explained later in relation to stanzas 5, 7, 9 and 14. [o    p 玄旨   q ]

         In the first line (st. 1) we decided to translate chih‑taor as "the best way". Blyth13 has suggested "great way" which is not wrong per se, but since in stanza 15 we already have ta taos, which must be "great tao", it was unreasonable to use the same word for different characters. In this translation we have been—as far as possible—faithful to the principle that the same character should be translated with the same word and vice versa – a different character with a different word. Other translators decided to use "perfect way" as equivalent for chih‑tao. This is not wrong, but "perfect" also denotes something that has been brought to the end, finished. However, speaking of the way, we have something that has yet to be threaded. That is why we made an option for the "best way". On the other hand we have reserved "perfect" as equivalent for chengt, which appears in stanza 19. We understand that the "way" (which is spoken of in the first four stanzas) is not the Taoist tao, but the way of Buddhism (Skt. marga). With stanza 4 we leave the Taoist meanings, since the "great vacuity"u, which is a Taoist expression, is related to a peculiarly Buddhist term ("suchness"). In the fourth line of stanza 4 Waley missed the meaning of juv. He takes the colloquial meaning (so), instead of the technical, Buddhist meaning – suchness, thatness (Skt. tathata). [r 至道   s 大道   t    u 太虚   v ]



Stanza 5, and the last two lines of stanza 4 are important because they introduce several terms and ideas of overall importance for the whole text. First is grasping (ch'uw, Skt. upadana).14 With grasping and rejecting suchness cannot appear. The same goes for the duality of "following conditions"x and "dwelling in emptiness"y. Conditions (yüanz, Skt. pratyaya), or conditioning factors, are mental activity and external objects. Not to dwell in emptiness means that practice of meditation can become one‑sided if attachment is developed for emptiness, peace and purity of meditative absorption. This is a recurrent warning, in all schools of Ch'an. That is why our text puts an accent on oneness (i‑chungaa), which is also the main subject in stanzas 6 and 7. [w    x    y 住空忍   z    aa 一種]

         Stanzas 5 and 7 (in contrast to stanzas 9 and 14) speak about emptiness (k'ungab) in practice of meditation, which can become a pitfall. In stanzas 9 and 14 emptiness is considered from the prajna‑perspective, as an essential trait of the world and connecting principle of all opposites, all dualities. On the other hand, one should not dwell and abide in emptiness during meditation (stanza 5). "When working on Zen, the worst thing is to become attached to quietness, because this will unknowingly cause you to be engrossed in dead stillness. Then you will develop an inordinate fondness for quietness and at the same time an aversion for activity of any kind''.15 Stanza 6 accentuates the overcoming of duality between rest and motion which is a subtle obstacle. "If one abandons deconcentration in order to seek concentration, what he will attain is the deconcentration but not concentration. If one turns back on impurity in order to get purity, he will get impurity but not purity".16 It is interesting to note the fourth line of stanza 7, which expresses that emptiness (in prajna‑sense) is definitely out of reach from the dhyana‑perspective. This has to do with the dynamics of meditation. If one seeks emptiness trying to reach rest, he always seems one step behind, until he realizes that emptiness is the common and connecting principle of rest and motion, being and nothingness. [ab ]

         In Hsin‑hsin Ming there is no explicit mentioning of meditation. However, sections II and III can be considered as "meditation sections". They contain admonitions on correct meditation practice, its possible mistakes and pitfalls. Stanzas 8 and 10 speak of stopping the internal monologue and the related thinking. Returning to the root and turning inward are related with such stoppage – otherwise they would just be an introversion.



The first two lines of stanza 10 introduce two important technical characters: chenac (which also appears in stanza 18), meaning true, real, and chienad, meaning view (Skt. drsti). The course toward awakening is not related with a mind in search of new truths. Such a search only multiplies (dual) views, leading to a road without end. That is why the admonition "abstain from views" is given as one of the main principles of the meditative via negativa. [ac    ad ]

         Stanzas 11‑14 return to the themes of oneness and duality. The first line of stanza 12 focuses oneness of mind, or one‑mind (i‑hsinae, Skt. eka‑citta). We find that eka‑citta is mentioned back at the time of Asanga, who speaks about it in the context of the fifth perfection (dhyana‑paramita) of the paramita‑yana.17 [ae 一心]

         One Mind is also mentioned in the Surangama as a doctrine which enables one to overcome dualities, understand senses as a part of bodhi, and attain imperturbability (acala).18 In Chinese Buddhism the one‑mind concept is exposed by Hui‑ssuaf (sixth century) in "The Method of Concentration and Insight", which belongs to the T'ien‑t'aiag school: "...All dharmas are but one mind. Therefore there is no differentiation in itself, for differentiation is the one mind. As the mind involves all functions, the one mind is differentiation. They are always the same and always different".19 [af 慧思   ag 天台]

         The one mind doctrine was especially elaborated in the Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana.20 Here, one mind appears as suchness (tathata), in its pure form, and as samsara when it falls under conditions. Fa‑tsangah has written a commentary on the Awakening of Faith. For him, one mind is the unchanging, undifferentiated, non‑dual basis of all experience: deluded and awakened. [ah 法藏]

         In Hsin‑hsin Ming one mind is considered in a meditative context (rather than as a metaphysical concept). It is a state of mind free of duality.



In the second line21 in stanza 17 we encounter the character t'iai (essence, substance) which is usually paired with yungaj (function, application). It is an important concept in Buddhism, and other schools of Chinese philosophy. The character yung appears also in our text (in Stanzas 18 and 21), but the context suggests a colloquial rendering: "to use". Peculiar for our text is that (in stanza 12) it focuses blame (chinak) as a factor that binds mind to things and arising (chengal). This relatedness of the subject and object is underlined in verse 13. [ai    aj    ak    al ]

         In order to avoid duality, Hsin‑hsin Ming once more (in stanza 14) focuses emptiness as origin of both. Now comes the second stage of cultivating the mind: it consists in applying (yung) which is now changed through this "meeting" with t'i. This means that yung itself would be different after its "meeting" with t'i (the "meeting" is expressed by the "one‑mind"). That is, yung is changed when mind understands its relation with things (faam – Skt. dharma) – how is it influenced by things, and how it influences things. Then the mind is free from things, as well as from its previous yung (function, application); it now functions in the world, but is not influenced and affected by the world. The new functioning in the world is exposed in part IV (stanzas 15‑18) of the Hsin‑hsin Ming; there we find what is, and what is not peculiar to such free functioning. [am ]

         In the third line of stanza 17 we encounter a Taoist maxim of according with tao, but we should give it a Buddhist reading: accord your nature with the way (tao), i.e. accord with the Buddhist path (Skt. marga).



The fifth part opens introducing the One‑vehicle (i‑ch'engan, Skt. eka‑yana).22 [an 一乘]

         In China we encounter the subject of One vehicle (i‑ch'eng) in the Hua‑yenao school. As in other teachings in that school, it calls upon the authority of the Avatamsaka Sutra. However, here we have an interpretation differing from Mahayana. In Fa‑tsang's Treatise on the Golden Lion we find an exposition of various schools and Buddhist doctrines in a five‑level gradation. The Hinayana doctrine includes all Theravada schools, the initial doctrine of Mahayana includes Madhyamaka and Yogacara, the final doctrine of Mahayana is given by the T'ien‑t'aiap school, the Mahayana doctrine of sudden awakening is given by Ch'an, and the Yuan (rounded, complete, all‑inclusive) doctrine (yuan chiaoaq) of the One vehicle is given by the Hua‑yen school. What is this all‑inclusive teaching of the One vehicle? "When the feelings have been eliminated and true substance (t'iar) revealed, all becomes an undifferentiated mass. Great functions (yungas) arise in abundance, and whatever it does is real (or absolute, chenat). The myriad manifestations, despite their variety, interfuse without disarray. The all is the one, for both are similar, being empty in nature. And the one is the all for cause and effect clearly take course. In their power and functions each implies the other. They spread out and roll up freely. This is called the all‑inclusive doctrine of the One vehicle" (compare slight variations in translations of this passage—because of its importance it was quoted by various authors).23 [ao 華嚴   ap 天台   aq 圓教   ar    as    at ]

         Now, how does this Hua‑yen understanding of the One vehicle stand in relation to Hsin‑hsin Ming?

         We find this "one is all, all is one"au principle, and the Hua‑yen teaching of mutual penetration and identity, in stanzas 33, 34, and 35. Therefore, the One vehicle in Hsin‑hsin Ming is open toward six sense‑objects (lu chanav, Skt. sad guna), six qualities (or "six dusts"), that appear in the conjunction of objects and sense organs, including reason. Perhaps, it is the "dust" which was supposed to be wiped from the "bright mirror of the mind" in the verse by Shen‑hsiuaw (composed in competition for the successor of the fifth patriarch of the Ch'an school), while Hui‑nengax said that Buddha‑nature is forever pure and cannot be defiled by "dust". [au 一即一切、一切即一   av 六塵   aw 神秀   ax 慧能]

         The integrative, monistic standpoint—similar to Hua‑yen—is obvious from the third and fourth lines of stanza 19. This is where the One vehicle and the one mind doctrine meet, because one mind has two aspects: one is suchness (seen in perfect awakeness), the other is origination and cessation with six sense‑objects.

         Stanza 21 speaks of possible mistakes related with meditative practice. One can find similar instructions in earlier texts, as in the Surangama Sutra. Surangama and Hsin‑hsin Ming are cautious and give warnings against the possible misuse of meditative process. With the first two lines of stanza 21 compare two lines from Surangama:


                                    If mind be set on searching for the mind, that which

                                    At heart is not illusion, becomes illusory.24


This subtle obstacle was a matter of special attention in Buddhism, especially Ch'an. For example, a text with a similar title (Hsin Ming), attributed to Fa-jung ay,25 besides other points in common with the Hsin‑hsin Ming, has an admonition similar to stanza 21. [ay 法融心銘]


                                    If you wish to attain purity of mind,

                                    then make effort (in the context of) no‑mind (...)

                                    To maintain tranquillity with the mind is

                                    still not to transcend the illness (of ignorance)".26


It is worth mentioning that in Hsin‑hsin Ming we do not find one of the common technical terms of Ch'an—especially of the Southern school—namely, wu‑hsinaz (no-mind). The author of our text had much more affinity for one‑mind (i-hsinba), and wu‑weibb (non‑action – in stanza 20), which is part of the Taoist legacy ("no mind", which is found in stanza 12, is actually pu‑hsinbc). With respect to the Taoist legacy we should say that besides the general influence felt in part I of the poem, it is also present in using the typical Taoist term: non‑action (wu‑weibb). We also find tzu‑janbd (spontaneity) in stanza 17 (which has a completely Taoist meaning), and in stanza 25. This is in line with the Ch'an principle, developed under the Taoist influence – to stress spontaneity, at the expense of rules, or discipline. [az 無心   ba 一心   bb    bc 不心   bd 自然]

         In Hsin‑hsin Ming we cannot find any trace of the debate between the concepts of gradual and sudden awakening. We know that the concept of sudden awakening was already present in Indian Buddhism – "one-moment" (eka-kshana) awakening. However it seems that this concept was not concurrent, or opposed, to the idea of gradualness in Indian Buddhism.27 In China the debate lasted several centuries – from the beginning of the fifth, until the end of the eighth century, with certain lapses. It started before Ch'an was recognized as a separate school but was most fervently pursued in Ch'an, especially after the division between the Northern and the Southern schools.

         The first person in Ch'an who confronted sudden with gradual awakening, was Tao‑shengbe (ca. 360‑434).28 This aroused the opposition of Hui‑kuanbf, who, like Tao‑sheng, was also a disciple of Kumarajiva. The debate continued through the fifth century. We will skip over the fine arguments of this debate and pay attention to only one remark, relevant for our inquiry. That is the difference between faith and understanding, in terms of "gradual" and "sudden". One of the arguments in favor of the doctrine of sudden awakening was as follows: "Enlightenment (mingbg) is not to be gradually reached, whereas faith (hsinbh) arises (gradually) from instruction. What do I mean by this? Faith arises and is strengthened in daily progress, but enlightenment is not gradual" (The Discussion of Essentials).29 [be 道生   bf 慧觀   bg    bh ]

         The fundamental and obvious argument in favor of suddenness is that the awakening is one: non‑dual and non‑divisible. This would mean that faith‑in‑mind (hsin‑hsinbi), appearing in stanza 36 as non‑dual, is not the same as divisible (and gradual) faith mentioned in this debate (the character hsin is the same). Hsin‑hsin Ming mentions neither sudden awakening (tun‑wubj), nor gradual awakening (chien‑wubk), which were already in use at the time of Tao‑sheng (i.e. three centuries before the supposed time of Hsin‑hsin Ming). Its author deemed as unnecessary to specify (in terms of gradual or sudden) complete awakenness (cheng‑chüehbl), and awakening (wubm). [bi 信心   bj 頓悟   bk 漸悟   bl 正覺   bm ]

         The sixth century was an intermezzo. In the seventh century the debate between the doctrines of gradual and sudden awakening burst with new strength in an encounter between Shen‑hsiubn and Hui‑nengbo, and in the division of Ch'an (into Northern and Southern sects). [bn 神秀   bo 慧能]

         By the end of the eighth century, in 794 A.D., there was also a recorded debate on the international level (held in Tibet), between Kamalasila from India, who was representing the orthodox gradual doctrine, and the exponents of Ch'an from China, who argued in favor of the doctrine of sudden enlightenment.30

         It should be noted that in Hsin‑hsin Ming we find altogether two terms related with awakening – cheng-chüehbp (stanza 19) and wubq (stanza 21). In Chinese Buddhism mingbr (enlightenment) was used at least from the time of Tao‑sheng (c. 400 A.D.), as a synonym for wu. This means that during the Indian history of Buddhism the basic term was "awakening" (Skt. bodhi), and that Chinese Buddhism introduced the term "enlightenment" (mingbr)31 into Buddhism (one should not be confused with the fact that, for separate reasons, in western writings the term "enlightenment" was used more often – it is more popular – then "awakening"). We also encounter this character (mingbr) in Hsin‑hsin Ming, although not in a noun‑sense (enlightenment). In stanza 1 (fourth line) it is used as a verb (enlighten), and in stanza 29 as an attribute (enlightened) – "ming" bs appearing in the tittle of the text is a different character, which means "inscription." [bp 正覺   bq    br    bs ]

         Chüehbt means "to awaken," "completely understand", or "awakenness" as a permanent accomplishment, while wubu means "awakening". It is obvious that these two were used as technical terms – cheng‑chüehbv meaning "perfect awakenness" (Skt. sambodhi), and wu, meaning "awakening" (bodhi). Concerning these matters, Garma C.C. Chang remarks that wu "as shown in the Zen tradition, to denote the inner experience of the awakening to the prajna‑truth (the truth realized through transcendental wisdom), is not the same as that of cheng‑teng‑chüehbw (Skt. samyaksambodhi), which is the final and perfect Enlightenment of Buddhahood. Ch'an Buddhists seldom talk of cheng‑chüeh (sambodhi), or speak of their Ch'an experience as chüeh (bodhi). Although chüeh and wu are very close, a difference still exists between them. Wu refers more to the awakening experience in its immediate sense, while chüeh denotes permanent and complete Enlightenment (...). However, these experiences are different only in degree of profundity, not in essence, or in basic principle".32 [bt    bu    bv 正覺   bw 正等覺]

         It is also worth noting that in Hsuan‑tsang'sbx doctrine of Mere Ideation (seventh century), in Fa‑tsang's Hua‑yen, and in T'ien‑t'ai we find chüeh rather than wu.33 [bx 玄奘]



In stanza 24 we encounter two important terms—one suchness (i‑juby) and conditions (yüanbz). We have already mentioned the second term, which is also found in stanza 5 with the same meaning (Skt. pratyaya; Pali, paccaya — root‑conditions: greed, hate, delusion, etc.). Concerning suchness, we find altogether three variations of this term in Hsin‑hsin Ming. In stanza 4 we find "suchness" (juca), in stanza 24 "one suchness", and in stanza 30 "real suchness" (chen‑jucb – Skt. bhutatathata). The first and the third are well known in Mahayana tradition, but the second seems to be an innovation of the author of Hsin‑hsin Ming. [by 一如   bz    ca    cb ]



Stanzas 28‑29 can be compared with Seng‑chao: "Sage harbors (no desires, his mind is like an) empty hole: there are no perceptions nor thoughts. Indeed, though living in the midst of our ever‑changing world, he remains completely detached..." 34

         In the first line of stanza 30 we find two technical terms: real suchness (chen‑jucc), and thing‑realm, or totality of dharmas, fa chiehcd (Skt. dharma-dhatu). These concepts have been used in Mahayana, and also in the Mind‑only school, T'ien‑t'ai, and Hua‑yen. In Ch'eng Wei‑shih Lun Hsuan‑tsang gives the following definitions. "Chence means genuine and real. It indicates that it is not baseless and false. Jucf means constantly thus. The meaning is that this genuine reality remains, under all conditions, constantly thus in its nature".35 [cc    cd 法界   ce    cf ]

            The T'ien‑t'ai school gives a slightly different meaning: "Further as to chen‑ju: it is that of all things which, being genuinely and really thus, consists of the single mind only. This single mind is therefore called chen‑ju (genuinely thus). Anything external to it is neither genuine nor thus,: but consists only of false and: diverse appearances".36 [cg ]

         In stanza 30 and the first two lines of stanza 31, we find the relation between real suchness (chen‑juch), non‑duality (pu‑erhci), equality (t'ungcj),37 and totality (nothing is left out) of the thing (dharmack) realm (fa chiehcl). The connecting experience between the "meditative" (dhyana) and "wisdom" (prajna) aspects is the negation of the difference between "other" (t'acm) and "self" (tzucn). In meditation this is the experience of non‑obstruction between ego and non‑ego, when "all is free of marks" – and therefore, "not-different" (in a Buddhist context it would not be consistent to say that the ego has become all‑inclusive with the falling off of the ego boundaries, because ego is also without marks). In the "wisdom" sense this means that in real suchness it is not possible to make any distinction – therefore, the realm of things (fa chiehcl), where nothing is left out, is experienced as non‑distinctive totality, or oneness. This can remind someone of postmodern debate on "difference", and "other", but this is a different context, and should not be meddled with postmodern debate. [ch    ci 不二   cj    ck    cl 法界   cm    cn ]

         Stanza 32 expands (makes explicit) this experience with interpenetration (and transcendence) of time (urgent, moment, eon) and space dimensions (extensive, here, there, nowhere, everywhere). This has also been explained by Fa‑tsang in Hua‑yen Yi‑hai Pai‑menco: "Since a single moment has no substance of its own it becomes interchangeable with the great eons. Because the great eons have no substance they also embrace the single moment".38 [co 華嚴經義海百門]

         Non‑duality (pu‑erhcp) deserves separate comment. We find it in several stanzas (30, 31 and 36). It is also related to oneness (i‑chungcqone kind), in stanzas 5, 6 and 7. Non‑duality (Skt. advaya, advaita) was the favorite principle in many schools of Indian philosophy, including Buddhism. In Buddhism this has been exposed in various texts, mostly of Mahayanic origin. [cp 不二   cq 一種]

         In Ashtasahasrika-prajnaparamita (Ch. XVI) it is said that the "suchness of the Tathagata and of all dharmas is one suchness, non‑dual (advaya), not divided (advaidhikara)".

         In Abhisamayalamkara (Ch. VII) we find the: "momentary intuition of non‑duality". The commentary says: "This form of momentary intuition represents the state when the bodhisattva, having during a long period of time made it his habit to negate the double aspect of the elements (as subjective and objective), has this double representation completely removed".39

         In Gandavyuha, when Sudhana reaches Maitreya, he is introduced to a dwelling place of those who delight in emptiness and in experiencing: the interpenetration of all the ages of the universe; the entrance (anupravesa) of one into all, and all into one; the non‑obstruction (anavarana) of all phenomena; the non‑duality (advaya) of all Buddhas.

         At the climax of Vimalikirtinirdesa Sutra, thirty‑two bodhisattvas explain in words the principle of non‑duality, each one setting forth the solution of a pair of opposites ("coming" and "going", purity and impurity, samsara and nirvana). Finally, Manjusri states that non‑duality can be entered only by abstaining from words and thoughts, and the same advice is given in Hsin-hsin Ming, in stanza 8.



Stanza 33 extends the principle of non‑duality to large and small. On this subject Fa‑tsang says in Hua‑yen Huan‑yüan Kuan: "When we see, for example, the height and width of a mountain, it is mind that manifests this largeness; there is no largeness apart (from mind). Or when we see the utter tinynes of a particle of matter (guna), here again it is mind that manifests this tinyness..." 40

         With regards to influences between Hua‑yen and Ch'an, Suzuki has long ago remarked: "While scholars of the Avatamsaka school (Hua‑yen, D.P.) were making use of the intuitions of Zen in their own way, the Zen masters were drawn towards the philosophy of Identity and Interpenetration, advocated by the Avatamsaka, and attempted to incorporate it into their own discourses. (...) The influence of Avatamsaka philosophy on Zen masters grew more and more pronounced as time went on, and reached its climax in the tenth century after the passing of Tsung‑micr, the fifth patriarch of the Avatamsaka school in China".41 [cr 宗密]

         In Hsin‑hsin Ming we can also find traces of this syncretism, especially in the last seven stanzas. The relationship between Hua‑yen and Ch'an has been sensed by contemporary authors like Gimello, who remarks: "One frequently encounters in Hua‑yen thought difficult issues which might better be understood if only one knew their true relationship to meditative cultivation".42 The same remark stands for many stanzas in the Hsin‑hsin Ming. In our opinion, the following stanzas are especially related to meditative cultivation: 6, 8, 10, 12; 13, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 33, 35.

         In Ta‑ch'eng Chih‑kuan Fa‑mencs of the T'ien‑t'ai school we can find similar ideas on large and small as in stanza 33. "The mind, being single, has neither largeness nor smallness. The hair‑pore and the city both embody the single total mind as their substance. From this we should realize that the hair‑pore and the city are integrated in substance and everywhere the same. For this reason the small admits of the large; thus there is nothing large that is not small. The large integrates the small: thus there is nothing small that is not large. Because there is nothing small that is not large, the large may enter the small, yet is not diminished. Because there is nothing large that is not small, the small may contain the large, yet is not increased".43 [cs 乘止觀法門]

         However, the idea of relativity of small and large has been introduced to the context of Chinese philosophy some thousand years before, by Chuang‑tzuct and Hui‑shihcu. Chuang‑tzu (in ch. XVII, "Autumn Floods"cv) observes that "From the point of view of differences, if we regard a thing as big because there is a bigness to it, then among all the ten thousand things there are none that are not big. If we regard a thing as small because there is a certain smallness to it, then among the ten thousand things there are none that are not small".44 [ct 莊子   cu 惠施   cv 秋水]

         The other concept that connects Hsin‑hsin Ming and Chuang‑tzu is equality (t'ungcw). Chuang‑tzu speaks of equality of things in ch. II: "Whether you point to a little stalk or a great pillar, a leper or the beautiful Hsi‑shih, things ribald and shady, or things grotesque and strange, the Way makes them all into one. Their dividedness is their completeness, their completeness is their impairment. No thing is either complete or impaired, but all are made into one again".45 And then he adds: "There is nothing in the world bigger than the tip of an autumn hair, and Mount T'ai is tiny. No one has lived longer than a dead child, and P'eng‑tsu died young".46 [cw ]

         Nevertheless, we should note the difference between Chuang‑tzu and Hsin‑hsin Ming. For Chuang‑tzu everything is equal, because: (a) tao is the equalizer of everything, and (b) everything is appropriate in relation to its kind, environment and context. In Hsin‑hsin Ming everything is equal because of emptiness and suchness.

         In stanzas 34 and 35 Hsin‑hsin Ming exposes the interpenetration of being (yucx) and non‑being (wucy),47 of one (icx) and all (i‑chiencz). [cx    cy    cz    da 一切]

         With stanza 36 the discourse is brought to the end, because the subject is pronounced as beyond time (past, present, or future 去來今).



1. Leng‑chia Shih-tzu Chidb is one of the Tun Huangdc manuscripts (Pelliot 3436, and Stein 2054). It was discovered in 1926, and later included in Taisho, 85. 1283-1290. Seizan Yanagida has published a critically edited version with a Japanese translation in Shoki no Zenshi I, Zen no Goroku, 2 (Tokyo, 1971) pp. 49‑326. [db 楞伽師資記   dc 敦煌]

2. H. Ui, Zenshushi Kenkyu, I (Tokyo, 1939), p. 71.

3. Keiji Nishitani and Seizan Yanagida, Zenke Goroku, II (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1974), pp. 105‑112.

4. David W. Chappell, "The Teachings of the Fourth Ch'an Patriarch Tao-hsin (580‑651)", in Early Ch'an in China and Tibet ed. by W. Lai and L.R Lancaster (Berkeley: Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series, 1983), p. 89.

5. Heinrich Dumoulin, A History of Zen Buddhism (London: Faber and Faber, 1963). p. 76.

6. Wing‑tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), p. XI.

7. William W. Soothill and Lewis Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms (Delhi: M. Banarsidass, 1977). First edition: London, 1937.

8. To our knowledge, there already exist five translations of the Hsin‑hsin Ming in English. The first translator, D.T. Suzuki, has published two versions of his translation—one in D.T. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First series (London: Rider, 1970), pp. 196‑201, and the other in Buddhist Scriptures, trans. and ed. by Edward Conze (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), pp. 171‑175. His first translation was published in 1949. The second translation was done by A. Waley, in Buddhist Texts Through the Ages (Oxford: Bruno Cassirer, 1954), pp. 295‑8. The third is by R. H. Blyth, Zen and Zen Classics, Vol. I, (Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1960), pp. 5~99. The fourth is by Lu K'uan Yu, Practical Buddhism (London: Rider, 1971), pp. 34‑8. The fifth, anonymous translation, can be found in a manual, Daily Chants (Rochester: Zen Center, 1985).

         At first it seemed that we could use one of these as the basis for a new analysis of the poem, but after closer scrutiny it was obvious that none of the existing translations were adequate for the purpose. The fifth translation is a rather free rendering made for immediate purposes in a Zen Center. Of the other four, some are inconsistent in translating Buddhist technical terms (translations by Blyth and Yu, while Suzuki's translation occasionally introduces terms which seem to be part of a technical vocabulary (Absolute Reason), but actually belong to Hegelian philosophy, rather than Chinese Buddhism. Waley's translation is faithful except in technical terms. Perhaps he lacked the knowledge of Buddhist tradition and therefore translated technical terms as quasi‑technical (in stanza 19, True Perception, instead of perfect awakeness; in stanza 21, Wisdom instead of awakening).

9. Buddhist Scriptures, pp. 171‑5.

10. Essays in Zen Buddhism, r, p. 197.

11. K N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (London: Allen and Unwin, 1963), p. 389.

12. Zen Dawn, Early Texts from Tun Huang; trans. by J.C. Cleary (Boston and London: Shambhala, 1986), p. 81.

13. Blyth, Zen, 1, p. 53.

14. Ch'udd is a technical term for grasping, clinging or attachment; which is understood as a more intensive form of thirst, or craving (Skt. tanha). [dd ]

15. Po Shan, in Garma C.C. Chang, The Practice of Zen (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), p. 95.

16. Jan Yun‑hua, "Seng‑ch'ou Method of Dhyana", in Early Ch'an in China and Tibet, Lai and Lancaster, eds. p.57.

17. D.T. Suzuki, Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism (New York: Schoken, 1970), p. 70.

18. The Surangama Sutra, trans. by Lu K'uan Yu (London: Rider, 1969), p. 54 and 125.

19. Chan, A Source Book, p. 403.

20. Ta‑ch'eng ch'i‑hsin, Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, trans. by D.T. Suzuki, "Chicago: Open Court, 1900).

21. In the second line of stanza 17 we also find the character chu, which is a technical term for stages (Skt. bhumi) on the bodhisattva path. If we read it in this sense it would mean that the essence is not related to stages, and that is in accordance with the concept of awakening which refutes stages. However, since Hsin‑hsin Ming gives no special attention to sudden awakening, we have chosen a colloquial reading to abide, dwell. Blyth (Zen p. 79) has misunderstood the second line of stanza 17, translating t'i as activity.

22. One vehicle has an interesting history in Indian Mahayana, which has been lately exposed by D.S. Ruegg in "The gotra, ekayana and tathagatagarbha theories of the Prajnaparamita according to Dharmamitra and Abhyakaragupta", and A. Kunst in "Some Aspects of the Ekayana" – both papers published in Prajnaparamita and Related Systems, ed. by L. Lancaster (Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series), 1977.

         In various Mahayana texts the subject of One vehicle is interpreted differently. In Sri‑Mala (The Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala), trans. by Wayman, A. and H., (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), and the Lotus Sutra, Ekayana is identified with Mahayana as a vehicle (yana) that incorporates all vehicles. It also takes tathagatagarbha as an explanation for the thesis of One vehicle: an embryo of the Tathagata is present in every sentient being, and (potentially) they are all Buddhas, which means that tathagatagarbha is the basis of only one vehicle—the vehicle of the tathagatas. Finally, samyaksambodhi is one, not various, or different, in relation to various vehicles – yana-s.

         The gist of the interpretation in various sutras or their commentaries is that the three yanas, pertaining to sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and bodhisattvas is fundamentally Eka‑yana pertaining to Buddhahood. The basis for this is that all‑aspiring Buddhists are of one gotra (lineage), and all have tathagatagarbha (embryo of tathagatha). "No system postulating (different) vehicles indeed exists (in a certain meaning): I teach that the vehicle is one (ultimately). [But] in order to attract the childish I speak of different vehicles" (Lankavatara Sutra, cf. Ruegg, in Lancaster, Prajnaparamita, p. 295).

         One vehicle doctrine in the context of Japanese Buddhist thought was reviewed by M. Kiyota, "The presupposition to the understanding of Japanese Buddhist thought", Monumenta Nipponica vol. X~11, no. 34 pp. 251‑9, 1967.

23. Fung Yu‑Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, 11 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 347; Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 410; Chang, The Practice of Zen, p. 227.

24. Surangama, p. 117.

25. For John R McRae, Hsin Ming is falsely attributed to Fa-jung. See his article, "The Ox‑head School of Chinese Ch'an Buddhism", eds., R. N. Gimello and P.N. Gregory, Studies in Ch'an and Hua‑yen (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986), p. 208. On the other hand, Henrik H. Sorensen, commenting on the authorship and contents of the Hsin Ming, says: "All in all, we must conclude that there are a number of important points such as style, and contents which clearly allow us to associate the text with Fa-jung and the Niu‑t'ou School... Interestingly, the 'Hsin‑hsin Ming'... has many points in common with the 'Hsin‑ming', both as regards contents and style", H.H. Sorensen, "The 'Hsin‑ming' attributed to Niu‑t'ou Fa-jung", Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 13: 105 (1986).

26. Sorensen, "The 'Hsin‑ming' attributed to Niu‑t'ou Fa-jung", p. 106.

27. We know that Indian Buddhism has elaborated a broad spectrum of ideas on these matters. We find altogether some six Sanskrit terms related to this subject.

(a)  Bodhi‑citta designates the cognition of the necessity to step on the path (marga) and the decision/will to tread it. It is the power needed to tread the path, whether it is defined in terms of an arhat or a bodhisattva. However, these are supposed to differ—the first one is bent on attaining an awakening for himself, while the other is supposed to attain it in order to lead others to the path, and awakening.

(b)  Bodhi is awakening. It means the full understanding (what was previously an aspiration) of the Buddhist truths (whether in Theravada, Mahayana or Tantrayana tradition), inner transformation of cognitive, emotional and volitional faculties, and a transition to unconditioned (not bound by karma) existence. It is sometimes described as "reaching the other shore", or "turning about in the deepest seat of consciousness", or "breaking through" the bondage of ignorance and karma. Bodhi is derived from the root budh, which means to awake; therefore it is correct to translate it as awakening, and less correct as enlightenment. However, light is related with awakening in some sutras and tantras, principally in two forms. First is the light of the all‑powerful! Buddha, which enlightens and awakes sentient beings. Second is the individual, inner light of the mind. Under delusion it appears as false thinking, but after awakening it turns into the true light, radiant wisdom.

(c)  Sambodhi (supposedly) means complete awakening.

(d)  Samyak‑sambodhi is "right complete awakening".

(e)  Anuttara‑samyak‑sambodhi is "ultimate right complete awakening".

         However, these terms were not used consistently. For example, (b) and (c) were sometimes used as synonyms, as well as (d) and (e). Perhaps we can better understand this from the point of actual practice of meditation. There existed a practical need for terms which would designate experiences of various quality. Besides, it was supposed that the awakening of a Buddha is somewhat different in relation to the awakening of aspirants (Arahants, Bodhisattvas). For example, samyak‑sambodhi (Pali, samma‑sambodhi) was in Theravada a designation for the awakening of a Buddha; later it was anuttara‑samyak‑sambodhi. In Mahayana there was a tendency to use different terms for awakening of a Sravaka, Pratyekabuddha, Bodhisattva and Buddha, in order to underline the supposed difference in kind and quality.

         However, divisions of the path, meditation, insight and of awakening, provoked a reaction, which derived its reasons partly from theory, and partly from practice. From the theoretical standpoint it was considered that awakening – after all – must be "in one piece", apart from the preceding "not yet complete" forms; otherwise, it would fall under ordinary undertakings, which are conditioned, relative, and a matter of accumulation. From the practical point it seemed that the practicing Buddhist is lost in a complex maze of an endless accumulation of merits, insights, wisdoms, samadhis and awakenings. One could expect a reaction to this in order to put things back in pristine simplicity and proclaim that there is, after all, an only One vehicle (Eka‑yana), one germ of the thus‑come (tathagata‑garbha), one nirvana, and one awakening, which is spontaneous, instant and sudden. As Lankavatara puts it: "It is reached suddenly and intuitively as the 'turning about' in the deepest seat of consciousness; it neither enters, nor goes out—it is like moon seen in water".

         Thus, sudden awakening, that caused so much turbulence in Ch'an, was already at stake in Indian Buddhism (see: L.O. Gomez, "Indian Materials on the Doctrine of Sudden Enlightenment," in Lai and Lancaster, Early Ch'an in China and Tibet). The Sanskrit term, introduced in Abhisamayalamkara, was eka‑ksana‑abhisambodha – "complete‑awakening‑in‑one‑moment", a final removal of even the subtlest defilement and ignorance, attained in a thunderbolt‑like (vajropama) samadhi (E. Obermiller, "The Doctrine of Prajnaparamita as Exposed in the Abhisamayalamkara of Maitreya", Acta Orientalia, XI, 1933, p. 44). This momentary intuition is said to be the end of the bodhisattva path. It is an intuition of ultimate non‑duality (advaya). It is supposed to be the end of a progressive (gradual) process of intuition (anupurva‑abhisamaya). In such a context "gradualness" and "suddenness" were not concurrent, but compatible parts of the same (and one) process. The final realization is a matter of moment, but this moment and suddenness have to be prepared through a gradual building up. This can be seen even in Ch'an of the Southern school. Sometimes, decades of training were necessary for "sudden attainment", and integrating t'i (essence) with yung (function) – which followed "sudden attainment" in everyday life and experience – was (for the most part) a gradual process.

28. That is one of the reasons for Fung Yu‑Lan to say: "Ideologically speaking, the origin of the Ch'an school goes back to Tao‑sheng" – A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, 388.

29. Compare the translation of this passage from Pieh Tsung Lun in Walter Liebenthal, The Book of Chao Peking: The Catholic University 1948 p. 187; also, Fung Yu‑Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, p. 278.

30. L.O. Gomez, "Indian Materials on the Doctrine of Sudden Enlightenment", pp. 393-405.

31. This character (ming) has a long history in Chinese philosophy. It was introduced back at the time of Lao tzu: "All things, howsoever they flourish, return to their root. This return to the root is called quiescence, which is called the invariable. To know this invariable is called enlightenment (ming)" – Tao Te Ching, XVI.

32. Chang, The Practice of Zen, p. 162‑3.

33. See Fung Yu‑Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, pp. 337, 356 and 381. In time, Chinese Buddhism developed the whole specter of technical equivalents for Sanskrit terms (either in meaning, or as transliterations). For example, for bodhi, beside wu, and chüeh, we find a transliteration p'u-t'ide. For sambodhi, beside cheng‑chüeh, we find a transliteration san-p'u-t'idf. For samyak‑sambodhi we find teng cheng‑chüehdg, and for anuttara‑samyak‑sambodhi, there is cheng-teng cheng‑chüehdh. [de 菩提   df 三菩提   dg 等正覺   dh 正等正覺]

34. The Book of Chao, p. 109.

35. Fung yu‑Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, p. 331.

36. Ibid. p. 361.

37. Equality, or sameness (t'ung – Skt. samata), of all things is one of the favorite subjects in Hsin‑hsin Ming. Some authors observed that equality of things was attained in Indian Buddhism primarily by reducing all things to the common level of insignificance, and in Hua‑yen by raising all things to the common level of supreme value. We cannot say that Hsin‑hsin Ming applies either of these standpoints. In stanza 14 we see that dualities are equal on the basis of emptiness, which is their common "ground". In stanzas 30-31 equality is based on suchness and non‑duality. In stanza 33 equality appears when boundaries and limits are seen as conventions. Thus, equality is here neither equality in insignificance, nor in value.

38. Garma C.C. Chang, The Buddhist Teaching of Totality (London: Allen and Unwin, 1972), p. 160.

39. Obermiller, "The Doctrine of Prajnaparamita as Exposed in the Abhisamayalamkara of Maitreya", p. 83.

40. Fung Yu‑Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, p. 348.

41. Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, Third Series, pp. 19‑20.

42. R. M. Gimmello, "Early Hua‑yen, Meditation, and Early Ch'an: Some Preliminary Remarks", Early Ch'an in China and Tibet, p. 155.

43. Fung Yu‑Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy, II, p. 372.

44. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, trans. by Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968).

45. Ibid. pp. 40‑1.

46. Ibid. p. 43

47. Compare Hsin Mingdi: "If one puts an end to the two extremes (of being and not being), then one will be both bright and clear"dj (Sorensen, "The 'Hsin‑ming'...", p. 107). [di 心銘   dj 雙泯對治湛然明淨]



Two Mainstream Translations of the Hsin-hsin Ming


Two popular translations of the Hsin-hsin Ming are presented here. D.T. Suzuki has two translations published in his Essays in Zen Buddhism and Manual of Zen Buddhism, respectively. The translations are presented side by side; only the variant lines of the second translation are given, the identical lines are omitted. The other translation is that of Richard B. Clarke.




On Believing in MindI





Except that it refuses to make preferences;I








If you wish to see it before your own eyes,I


Have no fixed thoughts either for or against it.I






Peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose.I











Be serene in the oneness of things,I


And [dualism] vanishes by itself.I











The denying of reality is the asserting of it,I


And the asserting of emptiness is the denying of it.I

Inscribed On the Believing Mind

Translated by Daisetsu Teitarõ Suzuki


至道無難  The Perfect Way knows no difficulties

唯嫌揀擇  Except that it refuses to make preference:

但莫憎愛  Only when freed from hate and love,

洞然明白  It reveals itself fully and without disguise.


毫釐有差  A tenth of an inch's difference,

天地懸隔  And heaven and earth are set apart:

欲得現前  If you want to see it manifest,

莫存順逆  Take no thought either for or against it.


違順相爭  To set up what you like against what you dislike –

爲心病   This is the disease of the mind:

不識玄旨  When the deep meaning [of the Way] is not understood

徒勞念靜  Peace of mind is disturbed and nothing is gained.


圓同太虚  [The Way is] perfect like unto vast space,

無欠無餘  With nothing wanting, nothing superfluous:

良由取捨  It is indeed due to making choice

所以不如  That its suchness is lost sight of.


莫逐有縁  Pursue not the outer entanglements,

勿住空忍  Dwell not in the inner void;

一種平懷  When the mind rests serene in the oneness of things,

泯然自盡  The dualism vanishes by itself.


止動歸止  When you strive to gain quiescence by stopping motion,

止更彌動  The quiescence thus gained is ever in motion;

唯滯兩邊  As long as you tarry in the dualism,

寧知一種  How can you realize oneness?


一種不通  And when oneness is not thoroughly understood,

兩處失功  In two ways loss is sustained –

遣有沒有  The denial of reality may lead to its absolute negation,

從空背空  While the upholding of the void may result in contradicting itself.

多言多慮  Wordiness and intellection –

轉不相應  The more with them the further astray we go;

絶言絶慮  Away therefore with wordiness and intellection,

無處不通  And there is no place where we cannot pass freely.


歸根得旨  When we return to the root, we gain the meaning;

隨照失宗  When we pursue external objects, we lose the reason.

須臾返照  The moment we are enlightened within,


Abide not with dualism,I




Confusion ensues, and Mind is lost.I



The two exist because of the One,I


But hold not even to this One;I


When a mind is not disturbed,I




No offence offered, and no ten thousand things;I


No disturbance going, and no mind set up to work:I


The subject is quieted when the object ceases,I


The object ceases when the subject is quieted.I




The subject is a subject for the object:I



Rests ultimately on one Emptiness.I



In one Emptiness the two are not distinguished,I


And each contains in itself all the ten thousand thingsI





The Great Way is calm and large-hearted,I


For it, nothing is easy, nothing is hard;I





Clinging is never kept within bounds,I---



Quit it, and things follow their own courses,I


While the Essence neither departs nor abides.I


勝卻前空  We go beyond the voidness of a world confronting us.


前空轉變  Transformations going on in an empty world which confronts us,

皆由妄見  Appear real all because of Ignorance:

不用求眞  Try not to seek after the true,

唯須息見  Only cease to cherish opinions.


二見不住  Tarry not with dualism,

慎莫追尋  Carefully avoid pursuing it;

纔有是非  As soon as you have right and wrong,

紛然失心  Confusion ensues, and mind is lost.


二由一有  The two exist because of the one,

一亦莫守  But hold not even to this one;

一心不生  When the one mind is not disturbed,

萬法無咎  The ten thousand things offer no offence.


無咎無法  When no offence is offered by them, they are as if not existing;

不生不心  When the mind is not disturbed, it is as if there is no mind.

能隨境滅  The subject is quieted as the object ceases,

境逐能沈  The object ceases as the subject is quieted.