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鑑智僧璨 Jianzhi Sengcan (529-613)
信心銘 Xinxinming

Romaji: Kanchi Sōsan: Shinjinmei
English versions: Faith Mind Inscription


(Taishō No. 2010)
(In BDK English Tripiṭaka 15 “THREE CHAN CLASSICS”)
In this work Seng-can, the Third Patriarch of the Chan School in China, gives expression to the highest state of Chan. It is a short work, consisting of 146 lines of 4 characters a line and amounting to a mere 584 characters, and states that the ultimate truth of Chan corresponds to a state of equality and absolute freedom, free of all differentiation and conflict, right and wrong, loss and gain.
These verses have been a favourite object of memorization and recitation by countless Chan monks over the ages, and with the development of Chan over the centuries they have become deeply imbedded in the life of Chan monasteries.


信 心 銘


至 道 無 難 , 唯 嫌 揀 擇 。

但 莫 憎 愛 , 洞 然 明 白 。

毫 釐 有 差 , 天 地 懸 隔 。

欲 得 現 前 , 莫 存 順 逆 。

違 順 相 爭 , 是 為 心 病 。

不 識 玄 旨 , 徒 勞 念 靜 。

圓 同 太 虛 , 無 欠 無 餘 。

良 由 取 捨 , 所 以 不 如 。

莫 逐 有 緣 , 勿 住 空 忍 。

一 種 平 懷 , 泯 然 自 盡 。

止 動 歸 止 , 止 更 彌 動 。

唯 滯 兩 邊 , 寧 知 一 種 。

一 種 不 通 , 兩 處 失 功 。

遣 有 沒 有 , 從 空 背 空 。

多 言 多 慮 , 轉 不 相 應 。

絕 言 絕 慮 , 無 處 不 通 。

歸 根 得 旨 , 隨 照 失 宗 。

須 臾 返 照 , 勝 卻 前 空 。

前 空 轉 變 , 皆 由 妄 見 。

不 用 求 真 , 唯 須 息 見 。

二 見 不 住 , 慎 勿 追 尋 。

纔 有 是 非 , 紛 然 失 心 。

二 由 一 有 , 一 亦 莫 守 。

一 心 不 生 , 萬 法 無 咎 。

無 咎 無 法 , 不 生 不 心 。

能 隨 境 滅 , 境 逐 能 沈 。

境 由 能 境 , 能 由 境 能 。

欲 知 兩 段 , 元 是 一 空 。

一 空 同 兩 , 齊 含 萬 像 。

不 見 精 粗 , 寧 有 偏 黨 。

大 道 體 寬 , 無 易 無 難 。

小 見 狐 疑 , 轉 急 轉 遲 。

執 之 失 度 , 必 入 邪 路 。

放 之 自 然 , 體 無 去 住 。

任 性 合 道 , 逍 遙 絕 惱 。

繫 念 乖 真 , 昏 沉 不 好 。

不 好 勞 神 , 何 用 疏 親 。

欲 趣 一 乘 , 勿 惡 六 塵 。

六 塵 不 惡 , 還 同 正 覺 。

智 者 無 為 , 愚 人 自 縛 。

法 無 異 法 , 妄 自 愛 著 。

將 心 用 心 , 豈 非 大 錯 。

迷 生 寂 亂 , 悟 無 好 惡 。

一 切 二 邊 , 良 由 斟 酌 。

夢 幻 空 花 , 何 勞 把 捉 。

得 失 是 非 , 一 時 放 卻 。

眼 若 不 睡 , 諸 夢 自 除 。

心 若 不 異 , 萬 法 一 如 。

一 如 體 玄 , 兀 爾 忘 緣 。

萬 法 齊 觀 , 歸 復 自 然 。

泯 其 所 以 , 不 可 方 比 。

止 動 無 動 , 動 止 無 止 。

兩 既 不 成 , 一 何 有 爾 。

究 竟 窮 極 , 不 存 軌 則 。

契 心 平 等 , 所 作 俱 息 。

狐 疑 盡 淨 , 正 信 調 直 。

一 切 不 留 , 無 可 記 憶 。

虛 明 自 照 , 不 勞 心 力 。

非 思 量 處 , 識 情 難 測 。

真 如 法 界 , 無 他 無 自 。

要 急 相 應 , 唯 言 不 二 。

不 二 皆 同 , 無 不 包 容 。

十 方 智 者 , 皆 入 此 宗 。

宗 非 促 延 , 一 念 萬 年 。

無 在 不 在 , 十 方 目 前 。

極 小 同 大 , 妄 絕 境 界 。

極 大 同 小 , 不 見 邊 表 。

有 即 是 無 , 無 即 是 有 。

若 不 如 是 , 必 不 須 守 。

一 即 一 切 , 一 切 即 一 。

但 能 如 是 , 何 慮 不 畢 。

信 心 不 二 , 不 二 信 心 。

言 語 道 斷 , 非 去 來 今 。

Inscribed On the Believing Mind
Translated by Daisetsu Teitarō Suzuki
Essays in Zen Buddhism - First Series pp. 196-201

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 –

是 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,

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.


境由能境 The object is an object for the subject,

能由境能 The subject is a subject for an object:

欲知兩段 Know that the relativity of the two

元是一空 Rests ultimately on the oneness of the void.


一空同兩 In the oneness of the void the two are one,

齊含萬象 And each of the two contains in itself all the ten thousand things:

不見精 麁 When no discrimination is made between this and that,

寧有偏黨 How can a one-sided and prejudiced view arise?


大道體寛 The Great Way is calm and large-minded,

無易無難 Nothing is easy, nothing is hard:

小見狐疑 Small views are irresolute,

轉急轉遲 The more in haste the tardier they go.


執之失度 Clinging never keeps itself within bounds,

必 入邪路 It is sure to go the wrong way:

放之自然 Let go loose, and things are as they may be,

體無去住 While the essence neither departs nor abides.


任性合道 Obey the nature of things, and you are in concord with the Way,

逍遙絶惱 Calm and easy and free from annoyance;

繋念乖眞 But when your thoughts are tied, you turn away from the truth,

昏沈不好 They grow heavier and duller and are not at all sound.


不好勞神 When they are not sound, the soul is troubled;

何用疏親 What is the use of being partial and one-sided then?

欲取一乘 If you want to walk the course of the One Vehicle,

勿惡六塵 Be not prejudiced against the six sense-objects.


六塵不惡 When you are not prejudiced against the six sense-objects,

還同正覺 You in turn identify yourself with Enlightenment;

智者無爲 The wise are non-active,

愚人自縛 While the ignorant bind themselves up;

法無異法 While in the Dharma itself there is no individuation,

妄 自愛著 They ignorantly attach themselves to particular objects.

將心用心 It is their own mind that creates illusions –

豈非大錯 Is this not the greatest of self-contradictions?


迷生寂亂 Ignorance begets the dualism of rest and unrest,

悟無好惡 The enlightened have no likes and dislikes:

一切二邊 All forms of dualism

妄 自斟酌 Are ignorantly contrived by the mind itself.

夢幻虚華 They are like unto visions and flowers in the air:

何勞把捉 Why should we trouble ourselves to take hold of them?

得失是非 Gain and loss, right and wrong –

一時放卻 Away with them once for all!


眼若不睡 If an eye never falls asleep,

諸夢 自除 All dreams will by themselves cease:

心若不異 If the mind retains its oneness,

萬法一如 The ten thousand things are of one suchness.

一如體玄 When the deep mystery of one suchness is fathomed,

兀爾忘虚 All of a sudden we forget the external entanglements:

萬法齊觀 When the ten thousand things are viewed in their oneness,

歸復自然 We return to the origin and remain what we are.


泯其所以 Forget the wherefore of things,

不可方比 And we attain to a state beyond analogy:

止動無動 Movement stopped is no movement,

動止無止 And rest set in motion is no rest.

兩既不成 When dualism does no more obtain,

一何有爾 Even oneness itself remains not as such.


究竟窮極 The ultimate end of things where they cannot go any further,

不存軌則 Is not bound by rules and measures:

契心平等 The mind in harmony [with the Way] is the principle of identity

所作倶息 In which we find all doings in a quiescent state;

狐疑盡淨 Irresolutions are completely done away with,

正信調直 And the right faith is restored to its native straightness;


一切不留 Nothing is retained now,

無可記憶 Nothing is to be memorized,

虚明自照 All is void, lucid, and self-illuminating,

不勞心力 There is no stain, no exertion, no wasting of energy –

非思量處 This is where thinking never attains,

識情難測 This is where the imagination fails to measure.


眞如法界 In the higher realm of True Suchness

無他無自 There is neither 'other' nor self':

要急相應 When a direct identification is asked for,

唯言不二 We can only say, 'Not two.'


不二皆同 In being not two all is the same,

無不包容 All that is is comprehended in it:

十方智者 The wise in the ten quarters,

皆入此宗 They all enter into this absolute faith.


宗非促延 This absolute faith is beyond quickening [time] and extension [space].

一念萬年 One instant is ten thousand years;

無在不在 No matter how things are conditioned, whether with 'to be' or 'not to be',

十方目前 It is manifest everywhere before you


極小同大 The infinitely small is as large as large can be,

忘絶境界 When external conditions are forgotten;

極大同小 The infinitely large is as small as small can be,

不見邊表 When objective limits are put out of sight.


有即是無 What is is the same with what is not,

無即是有 What is not is the same with what is:

若不如此 Where this state of things fails to obtain,

必不相守 Be sure not to tarry.


一即一切 One in all,

一切即一 All in one –

但能如是 If only this is realized;

何慮不畢 No more worry about your not being perfect!


信心不二 The believing mind is not divided,

不二信心 And undivided is the believing mind –

言語道斷 This is where words fail,

非去來今 For it is not of the past, future, or present.




Song of the Trusting Mind
(Verses on the Faith Mind)

Xinxinming by Jianzhi Sengcan (Ch.), Shinjinmei by Kanchi Sosan (Jap.) (d.606)
Mirror Wisdom, Sangha Gem 鑑智僧璨 (Third Chinese Ancestor)
(see commentary in Trust in Mind by Mu Soeng)
translated by Richard B. Clarke, revised by Kokyo Henkel

至道無難 The Great Way is not difficult
唯嫌揀擇 for those who hold no preferences.
但莫憎愛 When longing and aversion are both absent,
洞然明白 everything becomes clear and undisguised.
毫釐有差 Make the smallest distinction, however,
天地懸隔 and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
欲得現前 If you wish to see the truth
莫存順逆 then hold no opinion for or against.
違順相爭 The struggle of likes and dislikes
是爲心病 is the disease of the mind.
不識玄旨 When the deep meaning of things is not understood,
徒勞念靜 the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
圓同太虚 The Way is perfect like vast space,
無欠無餘 where nothing is lacking and nothing is extra.
良由取捨 Indeed, it is due to our choosing or rejecting
所以不如 that we do not see thus.
莫逐有縁 Live neither in entanglement with things,
勿住空忍 nor passively in emptiness.
一種平懷 Be serene without striving activity in the oneness of things,
泯然自盡 and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
止動歸止 When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity,
止更彌動 your very effort fills you with activity.
唯滯兩邊 As long as you remain in one extreme or the other,
寧知一種 you will never know oneness.
一種不通 Those who do not live in the single Way
兩處失功 fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial.
遣有沒有 To deny the existence of things is to get stuck in existence;
從空背空 to assert the emptiness of things is to turn away from emptiness.
多言多慮 The more you talk and think about it,
轉不相應 the further astray you wander from the truth.
絶言絶慮 Stop talking and thinking,
無處不通 and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
歸根得旨 To return to the root is to find the meaning,
隨照失宗 but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
須臾返照 At the moment of turning the light of awareness around,
勝卻前空 there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
前空轉變 The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
皆由妄見 we call real only because of ignorance.
不用求眞 Do not search for the truth;
唯須息見 only cease to hold opinions.
二見不住 Dualistic constructs do not abide,
慎莫追尋 so take care not to pursue them.
纔有是非 If there is even a trace of this and that, right and wrong,
紛然失心 the mind will be lost in confusion.
二由一有 Although all dualities come from the one,
一亦莫守 do not be attached even to this one.
一心不生 When the one mind is unborn,
萬法無咎 nothing in the world can offend,
無咎無法 and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.
不生不心 When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist.
能隨境滅 When thought objects vanish, the thinker vanishes, (start of 2nd section)
境逐能沈 and when the thinker vanishes, objects vanish.
境由能境 Objects are objects because of the subject;
能由境能 The subject is subject because of objects.
欲知兩段 If you wish to understand these two,
元是一空 originally they are one emptiness.
一空同兩 In this one emptiness, the two are inseparable,
齊含萬象 equally containing myriad images.
不見精麁 If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine,
寧有偏黨 you will not give rise to prejudice.
大道體寛 To live in the Great Way
無易無難 is neither easy nor difficult,
小見狐疑 but those with limited views are fearful and doubting:
轉急轉遲 the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
執之失度 In attachment balance is lost,
必入邪路 and they surely enter the wrong path.
放之自然 Just let things be in their own way,
體無去住 and the whole will neither go nor abide.
任性合道 Accept your nature and accord with the Way,
逍遙絶惱 and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
繋念乖眞 When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,
昏沈不好 for everything is murky and unclear,
不好勞神 and unclarity brings annoyance and weariness.
何用疏親 What’s the use of making distinctions and separations?
欲取一乘 If you wish to enter the One Vehicle,
勿惡六塵 do not disdain the six senses.
六塵不惡 The six senses not being disdained
還同正覺 is the same as true awakening.
智者無爲 The wise have nothing to do,
愚人自縛 but the foolish bind themselves.
法無異法 There is one Dharma, not many;
妄自愛著 it’s foolish to long for anything.
將心用心 To seek mind with mind
豈非大錯 is the greatest of all mistakes.
迷生寂亂 Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
悟無好惡 in enlightenment there is no good and bad.
一切二邊 All dualities come from
妄自斟酌 false deliberation;
夢幻虚華 they are like dreams of flowers in the sky:
何勞把捉 why try to grasp them?
得失是非 Gain and loss, right and wrong:
一時放卻 let them go at once.
眼若不睡 If the eye never sleeps,
諸夢自除 all dreams will naturally cease.
心若不異 If the mind makes no discriminations, (start of 3rd section)
萬法一如 the myriad things are one suchness.
一如體玄 One suchness embodies the mystery,
兀爾忘虚 released from all entanglements.
萬法齊觀 When all things are seen equally,
歸復自然 they return to themselves.
泯其所以 In this causeless, relationless state
不可方比 no comparisons or analogies are possible.
止動無動 In rest or movement, nothing moves;
動止無止 in movement or rest, nothing rests.
兩既不成 When such dualities cease to exist,
一何有爾 oneness itself cannot exist.
究竟窮極 To this ultimate finality
不存軌則 no law or description applies.
契心平等 For the unified peaceful mind,
所作倶息 all self-centered striving ceases.
狐疑盡淨 Doubts completely vanish
正信調直 and a life of true trust is possible.
一切不留 With a single stroke we are freed from fixation;
無可記憶 nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
虚明自照 All is empty, clear, and self-illuminating,
不勞心力 with no exertion of the mind's power.
非思量處 Here thought, feeling,
識情難測 knowledge, and imagination are of no value.
眞如法界 In this world of suchness
無他無自 there is neither self nor other
要急相應 To come directly into harmony with this reality
唯言不二 just simply say, 'nondual.'
不二皆同 In this nonduality nothing is separate,
無不包容 nothing excluded.
十方智者 All wise ones everywhere
皆入此宗 enter this source,
宗非促延 and this source is beyond hurry or delay;
一念萬年 a single thought is ten thousand years.
無在不在 Here and not here do not apply;
十方目前 the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.
極小同大 Infinitely large and infinitely small; no difference,
忘絶境界 for definitions have vanished.
極大同小 Infinitely small and infinitely large;
不見邊表 no boundaries are seen.
有即是無 Being itself is non-being,
無即是有 and non-being is itself being.
若不如此 Don't waste time in doubts and arguments
必不相守 that have nothing to do with this.
一即一切 One is all,
一切即一 all is one, without distinction.
但能如是 To just be thus
何慮不畢 is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.
信心不二 The trusting mind is without duality,
不二信心 Nonduality is the trusting mind.
言語道斷 Here the way of words is cut,
非去來今 without past, future, or present.