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永嘉玄覚 Yongjia Xuanjue (665–713), aka 永嘉大师 Yongjia Dashi
證道歌 Zhengdao ge

(Rōmaji:) 永嘉玄覚 Yōka Genkaku [永嘉大师 Yōka Daishi]: 証道歌 Shōdōka
(Magyar átírás:) Jung-csia Hszüan-csüe: Cseng-tao ko

Stele engraved with this poem in the Six Banyan Trees Temple in Guangzhou


Az azonnali felébredés éneke
Fordította: Yvon Mjóken Bec és Boros Dókó László

Song of Enlightenment
Translated by D.T. Suzuki

Song of Enlightenment
Translated by Robert Aitken and Eido Shimano

Song of Liberation
Translated by Anzan Hoshin and Yasuda Joshu Dainen

Song of Enlightenment
English version by Osho

Song of Realization
Tr. by Nyogen Senzaki and Ruth Stout McCandless

Song of Enlightenment
Translated by John Balcom

Song of Enlightenment
Translated by Lu K'uan Yü [Charles Luk]

PDF: Song of Enlightenment
Commentary by Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua
Translated by the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts, Dharma Realm Buddhist University
Talmage, California, 1983

Dialectic as a Self-conscious Movement
Translated by Chang Chung-yuan

The Song of Experiencing the Tao
Translated by Robert Payne

Yôka Genkaku, 665–713 / Shôdôka: Das Lied des Erwachens

Yongjia Xuanjue's Biographies, A study by Yi-hsun Huang

» I need not say much about the Cheng-tao-ko (證道歌) which was usually
attributed to Hui-neng's disciple Hsüan-chiao (玄覺), called "Yung-chia ta-shih
(永嘉大师 Yoka Daishi in Japanese), who is supposed to have died in
712 or 713. Thirty years ago, on the basis of a Tunhuang manuscript copy
in the Pelliot collection, I pointed out that its author was mentioned therein
as Chao-chiao ta-shih (招觉大师). I also pointed out that a monk who died in
713 could not have sung about "the 28 Patriarchs" and "the Six Patriarchs"
as the author did in the 37th verse of the" Song of Enlightenment". The
myth of the 28 Patriarchs had not been invented until many decades later.
It is interesting to note that, in the catalogues of the Japanese pilgrims
of the 9th century, this Song was apparently attributed, not to Hsüan-chiao,
but to a Chen-chiao, and sometimes even to Hui-neng himself. «

An Appeal for a Systematic Search in Japan for Long-Hidden T'ang Dynasty Source-Materials of the Early History of Zen Buddhism
by Hu Shih, Bukkyō to bunka, Kyoto, 1960, p. 21.

The so-called “Song of Enlightenment” (Cheng-tao ko 证道歌) is variously listed (among the documents which were recorded to have been brought to Japan in the 9th century by such great Japanese pilgrims as Ennin (圆仁) and Eun (惠运) in 847, and Enchin (圆珍) in 858:

(a) Tsui-shang-ch'eng fu-hsing ko, 最上乘佛性歌, 真觉述 “The Song of Buddha-nature of the Supreme Vehicle,” by the monk Chen-chiao. (in Ennin's 838 and 847 lists.)

(b) Fu-hsing ko, 佛性歌, 真觉述 ”Song of Buddha-nature.” by Chen-chiao. (in Ennin's 840 list)

(c) Ts'ao-hsi-ch'an-shih cheng-tao ko, 曹溪禅师证道歌, 真觉述 ”The Song of Enlightemnment of the Ch'an Master of Ts'ao-hsi” (that is, Hui-neng) cited by Chen-chiao. (in Ennin's 847 list)

(d ) Liu-tsu-ho-shang kuan-hsin chieh, 六祖和尚 观心偈 “The Sixth Patriarch's Gathas of Inward Examination” (In Enchin's Enchin's lists of 854 , 857 and 858 lists).

(e) Tao-hsing ko, 道性歌 “The Song of the Nature of Tao” (in Eun's second list).

(f) Chien-tao-hsing ko, 见道性歌 “The Song of Seeing the Nature of the Tao” (in Enchin's 854 list).

Op. cit. pp. 16-17.

Stele engraved with this poem in the Six Banyan Trees Temple in Guangzhou, China.


Yoka Daishi, "Song of Enlightenment" [1]
Translated by D.T. Suzuki
(Manual of Zen Buddhism, 1935, p. 97)

1. Knowest thou that leisurely philosopher who has gone beyond learning and is not exerting himself in anything?
He neither endeavours to avoid idle thoughts nor seeks after the Truth;
[For he knows that] ignorance in reality is the Buddha-nature,
[And that] this empty visionary body is no less than the Dharma-body.

2. When one knows what the Dharma-body is, there is not an object [to be known as such],
The source of all things, as far as its self-nature goes, is the Buddha in his absolute aspect;
The five aggregates ( skandha ) are like a cloud floating hither and thither with no fixed purpose,
The three poisons ( klesa ) are like foams appearing and disappearing as it so happens to them.

[1. Yoka Daishi (died 713, Yung-chia Ta-shih, in Chinese), otherwise known as Gengaku (Hsuan-chiao), was one of the chief disciples of Hui-neng, the, sixth patriarch of Zen Buddhism. Before he was converted to Zen he was a student of the T'ien-tai. His interview with Hui-neng is recorded in the Tan-ching. He died in 713 leaving a number of short works on Zen philosophy, and of them the present composition in verse is the most popular one. The Original title reads: Cheng-tao Ke, "realization-way-song".]

3. When Reality is attained, it is seen to be without an ego-substance and devoid of all forms of objectivity,
And thereby all the karma which leads us to the lowest hell is instantly wiped out;
Those, however, who cheat beings with their false knowledge,
Will surely see their tongues pulled out for innumerable ages to come.

4. In one whose mind is at once awakened to [the intent of] the Tathagata-dhyana
The six paramitas and all the other merits are fully matured;
While in a world of dreams the six paths of existence arc vividly traced,
But after the awakening there is vast Emptiness only and not even a great chiliocosm exists.

5. Here one sees neither sin nor bliss, neither loss nor gain;
In the midst of the Eternally Serene no idle questionings are invited;
The dust [of ignorance] has been since of old accumulating on the mirror never polished,
Now is the time once for all to see the clearing positively done.

6. Who is said to have no-thought? and who not-born?
If really not-born, there is no no-birth either;
Ask a machine-man and find out if this is not so;
As long as you seek Buddhahood, specifically exercising yourself for it, there is no attainment for you.

7. Let the four elements go off your hold,
And in the midst of the Eternally Serene allow yourself to quaff or to peck, as you like;
Where all things of relativity are transient and ultimately empty,
There is seen the great perfect enlightenment of the Tathagata realized.

8. True monkhood consists in having a firm conviction;
If, however, you fail to have it, ask me according to your ideas, [and you will be enlightened].
To have a direct understanding in regard to the root of all things, this is what the Buddha affirms;
If you go on gathering leaves and branches, there is no help for you.

9. The whereabouts of the precious mani -jewel is not known to people generally,
Which lies deeply buried in the recesses of the Tathagata-garbha;
The sixfold function miraculously performed by it is an illusion and yet not an illusion,
The rays of light emanating from one perfect sun belong to the realm of form and yet not to it.

10. The fivefold eye-sight[1] is purified and the fivefold power[2] is gained,
When one has a realization, which is beyond [intellectual] measurement;
There is no difficulty in recognizing images in the mirror,
But who can take hold of the moon reflected in water?

11. [The enlightened one] walks always by himself, goes about always by himself;
Every perfect one saunters along one and the same passage of Nirvana;
His tone is classical, his spirit is transparent, his airs are naturally elevated,
His features are rather gaunt, his bones are firm, he pays no attention to others.

[1. The fivefold eye-sight (cakshus) : (1) Physical, (2) Heavenly, (3) Prajna-, (4) Dharma-, and (5) Buddha-eye.
2. The fivefold power (bala): (1) Faith, (2) Energy, (3) Memory, (4) Meditation, and (5) Prajna.]

12. Sons of the Sakya are known to be poor;
But their poverty is of the body, their spiritual life knows no poverty;
The poverty-stricken body is wrapped in rags,
But their spirit holds within itself a rare invaluable gem.

13. The rare invaluable gem is never impaired however much one uses it,
And beings are thereby benefited ungrudgingly as required by occasions;
The triple body[1] and the fourfold jnana[2] are perfected within it,
The eightfold emancipation[3] and the sixfold miraculous power[4] are impressed on it.

14. The superior one has it settled once for all and forever
The middling one learns much and holds much doubt;
The point is to cast aside your soiled clothes you so dearly keep with you;
What is the use of showing off your work before others?

15. Let others speak ill of me, let others spite me;
Those who try to burn the sky with a torch end in tiring themselves out;
I listen to them and taste [their evil-speaking] as nectar;
All melts away and I find myself suddenly within the Unthinkable itself.

[1. (1) The Dharma-body, (2) the Body of Enjoyment, and (3) the Body of Transformation.
2. (1) Mirror-intuition, (2) intuition of identity, (3) knowledge of doing Works, and (4) clear perception of relations.
3. The Abhidharmakosa , VIII, gives an explanation of the eight Vimoksha. See La Vallee Poussin's French translation, Chap. VIII, pp. 203-221.
4. For the six Riddhi, which are the supernatural products of the meditations, see op. cit., VII, 122 ff.]

16. Seeing others talk ill of me, I acquire the chance of gaining merit,
For they are really my good friends;
When I cherish, being vituperated, neither enmity nor favouritism,
There grows within me the power of love and humility which is born of the Unborn.

17. Let us be thoroughgoing not only in inner experience but in its interpretation,
And our discipline will be perfect in Dhyana as well as in Prajna, not one-sidedly abiding in Sunyata (emptiness);
This is not where we alone have finally come to,
But all the Buddhas, as numerous as the Ganga sands, are of the same essence.

18. The lion-roaring of the doctrine of fearlessness--
Hearing this, the timid animals' brains are torn in pieces,
Even the scented elephant runs wild forgetting its native dignity;
It is the heavenly dragon alone that feels elated with joy, calmly listening [to the lion-roaring of the Buddha].

19. I crossed seas and rivers, climbed mountains, and forded freshets,
In order to interview the masters, to inquire after Truth, to delve into the secrets of Zen;
And ever since I was enabled to recognize the path of Sokei,[1]
I know that birth-and-death is not the thing I have to be concerned with.

[1. T'sao-ch'i is the name of the locality where Hui-neng had his monastery, means the master himself.]

20. For walking is Zen, sitting is Zen,
Whether talking or remaining silent, whether moving or standing quiet, the Essence itself is ever at ease;
Even when greeted with swords and spears it never loses its quiet way,
So with poisonous drugs, they fail to perturb its serenity.

21. Our Master, [Sakyamuni], anciently served Dipankara the Buddha,
And again for many kalpas disciplined himself as an ascetic called Kshanti.
[I have also] gone through many a birth and many a death;
Births and deaths-how endlessly they recur!

22. But ever since my realization of No-birth, which quite abruptly came on me,
Vicissitudes of fate, good and bad, have lost their power over me.
Far away in the mountains I live in an humble hut;
High are the mountains, thick the arboreous shades, and under an old pine-tree
I sit quietly and contentedly in my monkish home;
Perfect tranquillity and rustic simplicity rules here.

23. When you are awakened [to the Dharma], all is understood, no strivings are required;
Things of the samskrita [1] are not of this nature;
Charity practised with the idea of form ( rupa ) may result in a heavenly birth,
But it is like shooting an arrow against the sky,
When the force is exhausted the arrow falls on the ground.
Similarly, [when the heavenly reward comes to an end], the life that follows is sure to be one of fortune.
Is it not far better then to be with Reality which is asamskrita and above all strivings,
And whereby one instantly enters the stage of Tathagatahood?

[1. According to Buddhist philosophy, existence is divided into two groups, samskrita and asamskrita. The samskrita applies to anything that does any kind of work in any possible manner, while the asamskrita accomplishes nothing. Of this class are space regarded as a mode of reality, Nirvana, and nonexistence owing to lack of necessary conditions.]

24. Only let us take hold of the root and not worry about the branches;
It is like a crystal basin reflecting the moon,
And I know now what this mani -gem is,
Whereby not only oneself is benefited but others, inexhaustibly;
The moon is serenely reflected on the stream, the breeze passes softly through the pines,
Perfect silence reigning unruffled-what is it for?

25. The morality-jewel inherent in the Buddha-nature stamps itself on the mind-ground [of the enlightened one];
Whose robe is cut out of mists, clouds, and dews,
Whose bowl anciently pacified the fiery dragons, and whose staff once separated the fighting tigers;
Listen now to the golden rings of his staff giving out mellifluous tunes.
These are not, however, mere symbolic expressions, devoid of historical contents;
Wherever the holy staff of Tathagatahood moves, the traces are distinctly marked.

26. He neither seeks the true nor severs himself from the defiled,
He clearly perceives that dualities are empty and have no reality,
That to have no reality means not to be one-sided, neither empty nor not-empty,
For this is the genuine form of Tathagatahood.

27. The Mind like a mirror is brightly illuminating and knows no obstructions,
It penetrates the vast universe to its minutest crevices;
All its contents, multitudinous in form, are reflected in the Mind,
Which, shining like a perfect gem, has no surface, nor the inside.

28. Emptiness negatively defined denies a world of causality,
All is then in utter confusion, with no orderliness in it, which surely invites evils all around;
The same holds true when beings are clung to at the expense of Emptiness,
For it is like throwing oneself into a flame, in order to avoid being drowned in the water.

29. When one attempts to take hold of the true by abandoning the false,
This is discrimination and there are artificialities and falsehoods;
When the Yogin, not understanding [what the Mind is], is given up to mere discipline,
He is apt, indeed, to take an enemy for his own child.

30. That the Dharma-materials are destroyed and merit is lost,
Comes in every case from the relative discriminatory mind;
For this reason Zen teaches to have a thorough insight into the nature of Mind,
When the Yogin abruptly by means of his intuitive power realizes the truth of No-birth.

31. A man of great will carries with him a sword of Prajna,
Whose flaming Vajra-blade cuts all the entanglements of knowledge and ignorance;
It not only smashes in pieces the intellect of the philosophers
But disheartens the spirit of the evil ones.

32. He causes the Dharma-thunder to roar, he beats the Dharma-drum,
He raises mercy-clouds, he pours nectar-showers,
He conducts himself like the lordly elephant or dragon and beings innumerable are thereby blessed,
The three Vehicles and the five Families are all equally brought to enlightenment.

Hini the herb grows on the Himalaya where no other grasses are found,
And the crows feeding on it give the purest of milk, and this I always enjoy.
One Nature, perfect and pervading, circulates in all natures;
One Reality, all comprehensive, contains within itself all realities;
The one moon reflects itself wherever there is a sheet of water,
And all the moons in the waters are embraced within the one moon;
The Dharma-body of all the Buddhas enters into my own being,
And my own being is found in union with theirs.

33. In one stage are stored up all the stages;
[Reality] is neither form, nor mind, nor work;
Even before fingers are snapped, more than eighty thousand holy teachings are fulfilled;
Even in the space of a second the evil karma of three asamkhyeya kalpas is destroyed;
Whatever propositions are made by logic are no [true] propositions,
For they stand in no intrinsic relation to my inner Light.

34. [This inner Light] is beyond both praise and abuse,
Like unto space it knows no boundaries;
Yet it is right here with us ever retaining its serenity and fulness;
It is only when you seek it that you lose it.
You cannot take hold of it, nor can you get rid of it;
While you can do neither, it goes on its own way;
You remain silent and it speaks; you speak and it is silent;
The great gate of charity is wide open with no obstructions whatever before it.

35. Should someone ask me what teaching I understand,
I tell him that mine is the power of Mahaprajna;
Affirm it or negate it as you like-it is beyond your human intelligence;
Walk against it or along with it, and Heaven knows not its whereabouts.

36. 1 have been disciplined in it for ever so many kalpas of my life;
This is no idle talk of mine, nor am I deceiving you;
I erect the Dharma-banner to maintain this teaching,
Which I have gained at Sokei and which is no other than the one proclaimed by the Buddha.

37. Mahakashyapa was the first, leading the line of transmission;
Twenty-eight Fathers followed him in the West;
The Lamp was then brought over the sea to this country;
And Bodhidharma became the First Father here:
His mantle, as we all know, passed over six Fathers,
And by them many minds came to see the Light.

38. Even the true need not be [specifically] established, as to the false none such have ever been in existence;
When both being and non-being are put aside, even non-emptiness loses its sense;
The twenty forms of Emptiness are not from the first to be adhered to;
The eternal oneness of Tathagatahood remains absolutely the same.

39. The mind functions through the sense-organs, and thereby an objective world is comprehended--
This dualism marks darkly on the mirror;
When the dirt is wiped off, the light shines out;
So when both the mind and the objective world are forgotten, the Essence asserts its truth.

40. Alas! this age of degeneration is full of evils;
Beings are most poorly endowed and difficult to control;
Being further removed from the ancient Sage, they deeply cherish false views;
The Evil One is gathering up his forces while the Dharma is weakened, and hatred is growing rampant;
Even when they learn of the "abrupt" school of the Buddhist teaching,
What a pity that they fail to embrace it and thereby to crush evils like a piece of brick!

41. The mind is the author of all works and the body the sufferer of all ills;
Do not blame others plaintively for what properly belongs to you;
If you desire not to incur upon yourself the karma for a hell,
Cease from blaspheming the Tathagata-wheel of the good Dharma.

42. There are no inferior trees in the grove of sandalwoods,
Among its thickly-growing primeval forest lions alone find their abode;
Where no disturbances reach, where peace only reigns, there is the place for lions to roam;
All the other beasts are kept away, and birds do not fly in the vicinity.

43. It is only their own cubs that follow their steps in the woods,
When the young ones are only three years old, they roar.
How can jackals pursue the king of the Dharma?
With all their magical arts the elves gape to no purpose.

44. The perfect "abrupt" teaching has nothing to do with human imagination;
Where a shadow of doubt is still left, there lies the cause for argumentation;
My saying this is not the outcome of my egotism,
My only fear is lest your discipline lead you astray either to nihilism or positivism.

45. "No" is not necessarily "No", nor is "Yes" "Yes";
But when you miss even a tenth of an inch, the difference widens up to one thousand miles;
When it is "Yes", a young Naga girl in an instant attains Buddhahood,
When it is "No", the most learned Zensho[1] while alive falls into hell.

[1. Shang-hsing, lit. "good star", was a great scholar of his age.]

46. Since early years I have been eagerly after scholarly attainment,
I have studied the sutras and sastras and commentaries,
I have been given up to the analysis of names and forms, and never known what fatigue meant;
But diving into the ocean to count up its sands is surely an exhausting task and a vain one;
The Buddha has never spared such, his scoldings are just to the point,
For what is the use of reckoning the treasures that are not mine?
All my past achievements have been efforts vainly and wrongly applied-I realize it fully now,
I have been a vagrant monk for many years to no end whatever.

47. When the notion of the original family is not properly understood,
You never attain to the understanding of the Buddha's perfect "abrupt" system;
The two Vehicles exert themselves enough, but lack the aspirations [of the Bodhisattva];
The philosophers are intelligent enough but wanting in Prajna;
[As to the rest of us] they are either ignorant or puerile;
They take an empty fist as containing something real, and the pointing finger for the object pointed;
When the finger is adhered to as the moon itself, all their efforts are lost;
They are indeed idle dreamers lost in a world of senses and objects.

48. The Tathagata is interviewed when one enters upon a realm of no-forms,
Such is to be really called a Kwanjizai (Avalokitesvara)
When this is understood, the karma-hindrances are by nature empty;
When not understood, we all pay for the past debts contracted.

49. A royal table is set before the hungry, but they refuse to eat;
If the sick turn away from a good physician, how are they cured?
Practise Zen while in a world of desires, and the genuine power of intuition is manifested;
When the lotus blooms in the midst of a fire, it is never destroyed.
Yuse (Yung-shih) the Bhikshu[1] was an offender in one of the gravest crimes, but when he had an enlightened insight into No-birth
He instantly attained to Buddhahood and is still living in another world.

50. The doctrine of fearlessness is taught as loudly as a lion roars:
What a pity that confused minds inflexibly hardened like leather
Understand only that grave offences are obstructions to Enlightenment,
And are unable to see into the secrets of the Tathagata's teaching.

51. Anciently, there were two Bhikshus, the one committing murder and the other a carnal offence:
Upali's insight was like that of the glowworm, and ended only in tightening the knots of offence;
But when they were instantly enlightened by the wisdom of Vimalakirti,
Their griefs and doubts melted away like the frost and snow before the blazing sun.

52. The power of incomprehensible emancipation
Works wonders as innumerable as the sands of the Ganga and knows no limits;
[To him] the four kinds of offerings are most willingly made,
By him thousands of pieces of gold are disbursed without involving anybody in debts;
The bones may be crushed to powders, the body cut
up to pieces, and yet we cannot repay him enough for what he does for us;
Even a phrase [issuing from him] holds true for hundreds of thousands of kotis of kalpas.

[1. The story of this Bhikshu is told in the Sutra on Cleansing the Karma-hindrances (Ching Yeh-chang Ching).]

53. He is the Dharma-king deserving the highest respect;
The Tathagatas, as many in number as the Ganga-sands, all testify to the truth of his attainment;
I now understand what this mani jewel is,
And know that all those who accept it in faith are in correspondence [with it].

54. As to seeing it, the seeing is clear enough, but no objects are here to be seen,
Not a person here, nor the Buddha;
Chiliocosms numberless are mere bubbles in the ocean,
All the sages and worthies are flashes of lightning.

55. However rapidly revolves the iron-wheel over my head,
The perfect brightness of Dhyana and Prajna in me is never effaced;
The sun may turn cold. and the moon hot;
With all the power of the evil ones the true doctrine remains forever indestructible.
The elephant-carriage steadily climbs up the steepest hill,
Before whose wheels how can the beetle stand?

56. The great elephant does not walk on the hare's lane,
Supreme Enlightenment goes beyond the narrow range of intellection;
Cease from measuring heaven with a tiny piece of reed;
If you have no insight yet, I will have the matter settled for you.





CHENG-TAO-KO [Zhengdaoge] (C.); (J. Shodoka (J.); Song of Enlightenment,
Song of Immediate Satori, Song of Realization, Song of the Realization
of the Way, Odes on Enlightenment is a Zen Buddhist didactical poem in
64 verses basic tenets of the Ch'an (Zen).

Its authorship is traditionally attributed to Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh
[Yongjia Xuanjue] - one of the most gifted teachers of the Ch'an (Zen)
school during the T'ang Dynasty China.

Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh [also known under the names of Yung-chia
Hsuan-chio, Great Master Chen-chio, Yoka Genkaku (J.), Yoka Daishi (J.)]
was a scholar and a monk who lived in the years 665-713. He was a Dharma
heir of the 6th Zen Patriarch, Hui-neng (J. Eno) and Dharma brother to
such personalities as Ch'ing-yuan Hsing-ssu (J. Seigen Gyoshi), Nan-yueh
Huai-jang (J. Nangaku Ejo), Nan-yang Hui-chung (J. Nan'yo Echu) and
Ho-tse Shen-hui (J. Kataku Jinne).

The Cheng-tao-ko poem was published 1924-1934 in Japan as a part of the
Taisho Shinshu Daizokyo (Buddhist Canon Published in The Taisho Era)
[No. 2014, Vol. 48].

It was also translated from the Chinese into English and given extensive
commentaries by the Ch'an Master Sheng-Yen in his 1990 book The Sword of
Wisdom: Lectures on 'The Song of Enlightenment'. Elmhurst, N.Y.: Dharma
Drum Publications.

This translation from Japanese was prepared in the 1960s by Mr Robert
Aitken and Eido Shimano Sensei for the Diamond Sangha Zen Buddhist
Society, Koko An, 2119 Kaloa Way, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 96822. Their
translation was subsequently re-printed in a book: Daily Sutras for
Chanting and Recitation. n.d. New York: New York Zendo of the Zen
Studies Society Inc.

In December 1991 the Aitken-Shimano's translation was revised by Robert
Aitken Roshi and incorporated (under its japanese title 'Shodoka') into
a collection of the Daily Zen Sutras in use by the Diamond Sangha itself
as well as by other affiliated Zen centers and communities, including
the California Diamond Sangha; Sydney Zen Center and the Zen Group of
Western Australia.

- T.Matthew Ciolek
19 November 1993

Song of Enlightenment
Translated by Robert Aitken and Eido Shimano

There is the leisurely one,
Walking the Tao, beyond philosophy,
Not avoiding fantasy, not seeking truth.
The real nature of ignorance is the Buddha-nature itself;
The empty delusory body is the very body of the Dharma.

When the Dharma body awakens completely,
There is nothing at all.
The source of our self-nature
Is the Buddha of innocent truth.
Mental and physical reactions come and go
Like clouds in the empty sky;
Greed, hatred, and ignorance appear and disappear
Like bubbles on the surface of the sea.

When we realize actuality,
There is no distinction between mind and thing
And the path to hell instantly vanishes.
If this is a lie to fool the world,
My tongue may be cut out forever.

Once we awaken to the Tathagata-Zen,
The six noble deeds and the ten thousand good actions
Are already complete within us.
In our dream we see the six levels of illusion clearly;
After we awaken the whole universe is empty.

No bad fortune, no good fortune, no loss, no gain;
Never seek such things in eternal serenity.
For years the dusty mirror has gone uncleaned,
Now let us polish it completely, once and for all.

Who has no-thought? Who is not-born?
If we are truly not-born,
We are not un-born either.
Ask a robot if this is not so.
How can we realize ourselves
By virtuous deeds or by seeking the Buddha?

Release your hold on earth, water, fire, wind;
Drink and eat as you wish in eternal serenity.
All things are transient and completely empty;
This is the great enlightenment of the Tathagata.

Transience, emptiness and enlightenment --
These are the ultimate truths of Buddhism;
Keeping and teaching them is true Sangha devotion.
If you don`t agree, please ask me about it.
Cut out directly the root of it all, --
This is the very point of the Buddha-seal.
I can't respond to any concern about leaves and branches.

People do not recognize the Mani-jewel.
Living intimately within the Tathagata-garbha,
It operates our sight, hearing, smell, taste, sensation, awareness;
And all of these are empty, yet not empty.

The rays shining from this perfect Mani-jewel
Have the form of no form at all.
Clarify the five eyes and develop the five powers;
This is not intellectual work, -- just realize, just know.
It is not difficult to see images in a mirror,
But who can take hold of the moon in the water?

Always working alone, always walking alone,
The enlightened one walks the free way of Nirvana
With melody that is old and clear in spirit
And naturally elegant in style,
But with body that is tough and bony,
Passing unnoticed in the world.

We know that Shakya's sons and daughters
Are poor in body, but not in the Tao.
In their poverty, they always wear ragged clothing,
But they have the jewel of no price treasured within.

This jewel of no price can never be used up
Though they spend it freely to help people they meet.
Dharmakaya, Sambogakaya, Nirmanakaya,
And the four kinds of wisdom
Are all contained within.
The eight kinds of emancipation and the six universal powers
Are all impressed on the ground of their mind.

The best student goes directly to the ultimate,
The others are very learned but their faith is uncertain.
Remove the dirty garments from your own mind;
Why should you show off your outward striving?

Some may slander, some may abuse;
They try to set fire to the heavens with a torch
And end by merely tiring themselves out.
I hear their scandal as though it were ambrosial truth;
Immediately everything melts
And I enter the place beyond thought and words.

When I consider the virtue of abusive words,
I find the scandal-monger is my good teacher.
If we do not become angry at gossip,
We have no need for powerful endurance and compassion.
To be mature in Zen is to be mature in expression,
And full-moon brilliance of dhyana and prajna
Does not stagnate in emptiness.
Not only can I take hold of complete enlightenment by myself,
But all Buddha-bodies, like sands of the Ganges,
Can become awakened in exactly the some way.

The incomparable lion-roar of doctrine
Shatters the brains of the one hundred kinds of animals.
Even the king of elephants will run away, forgetting his pride;
Only the heavenly dragon listens calmly, with pure delight.

I wandered over rivers and seas, crossing mountains and streams,
Visiting teachers, asking about the Way in personal interviews;
Since I recognized the Sixth Founding Teacher at Ts'ao Ch'i,
I know what is beyond the relativity of birth and death.

Walking is Zen, sitting is Zen;
Speaking or silent, active or quiet, the essence is at peace.
Even facing the sword of death, our mind is unmoved;
Even drinking poison, our mind is quiet.

Our teacher, Shakyamuni, met Dipankara Buddha
And for many eons he trained as Kshanti, the ascetic.
Many births, many deaths;
I am serene in this cycle,--there is no end to it.

Since I abruptly realized the unborn,
I have had no reason for joy or sorrow
At any honor or disgrace.

I have entered the deep mountains to silence and beauty;
In a profound valley beneath high cliffs,
I sit under the old pine trees.
Zazen in my rustic cottage
Is peaceful, lonely, and truly comfortable.

When you truly awaken,
You have no formal merit.
In the multiplicity of the relative world,
You cannot find such freedom.
Self-centered merit brings the joy of heaven itself,
But it is like shooting an arrow at the sky;
When the force is exhausted, it falls to the earth,
And then everything goes wrong.

Why should this be better
Than the true way of the absolute,
Directly penetrating the ground of Tathagata?

Just take hold of the source
And never mind the branches.
It is like a treasure-moon
Enclosed in a beautiful emerald.
Now I understand this Mani-jewel
And my gain is the gain of everyone endlessly.

The moon shines on the river,
The wind blows through the pines,--
Whose providence is this long beautiful evening?
The Buddha-nature jewel of morality
Is impressed on the ground of my mind,
And my robe is the dew, the fog, the cloud, and the mist.

A bowl once calmed dragons
And a staff separated fighting tigers;
The rings on this staff jingle musically.
The form of these expressions is not to be taken lightly;
The treasure-staff of the Tathagata
Has left traces for us to follow.

The awakened one does not seek truth--
Does not cut off delusion.
Truth and delusion are both vacant and without form,
But this no-form is neither empty nor not empty;
It is the truly real form of the Tathagata.

The mind-mirror is clear, so there are no obstacles.
Its brilliance illuminates the universe
To the depths and in every grain of sand.
Multitudinous things of the cosmos
Are all reflected in the mind,
And this full clarity is beyond inner and outer.

To live in nothingness is to ignore cause and effect;
This chaos leads only to disaster.
The one who clings to vacancy, rejecting the world of things,
Escapes from drowning but leaps into fire.

Holding truth and rejecting delusion--
These are but skillful lies.
Students who do zazen by such lies
Love thievery in their own children.

They miss the Dharma-treasure;
They lose accumulated power;
And this disaster follows directly upon dualistic thinking.
So Zen is the complete realization of mind,
The complete cutting off of delusion,
The power of wise vision penetrating directly to the unborn.

Students of vigorous will hold the sword of wisdom;
The prajna edge is a diamond flame.
It not only cuts off useless knowledge,
But also exterminates delusions.

They roar with Dharma-thunder;
They strike the Dharma-drum;
They spread clouds of love, and pour ambrosial rain.
Their giant footsteps nourish limitless beings;
Sravaka, Pratyeka, Bodhisattva--all are enlightened;
Five kinds of human nature all are emancipated.

High in the Himalayas, only fei-ni grass grows.
Here cows produce pure and delicious milk,
And this food I continually enjoy.
One complete nature passes to all natures;
One universal Dharma encloses all Dharmas.

One moon is reflected in many waters;
All the water-moons are from the one moon.
The Dharma-body of all Buddhas has entered my own nature,
And my nature becomes one with the Tathagata.

One level completely contains all levels;
It is not matter, mind nor activity.
In an instant eighty-thousand teachings are fulfilled;
In a twinkling the evil of eons is destroyed.

All categories are no category;
What relation have have these to my insight?
Beyond praise, beyond blame, --
Like space itself it has no bounds.

Right here it is eternally full and serene,
If you search elsewhere, you cannot see it.
You cannot grasp it, you cannot reject it;
In the midst of not gaining,
In that condition you gain it.

It speaks in silence,
In speech you hear its silence.
The great way has opened and there are no obstacles.
If someone asks, what is your sect
And how do you understand it?
I reply, the power of tremendous prajna.

People say it is positive;
People say it is negative;
But they do not know.
A smooth road, a rough road --
Even heaven cannot imagine.
I have continued my zazen for many eons;
I do not say this to confuse you.

I raise the Dharma-banner and set forth our teaching;
It is the clear doctrine of the Buddha
Which I found with my teacher, Hui Neng,
Mahakashyapa became the Buddha-successor,
Received the lamp and passed it on.
Twenty-eight generations of teachers in India,
Then over seas and rivers to our land
Bodhi Dharma came as our own first founder,
And his robe, as we all know, passed through six teachers here,
And how many generations to come may gain the path,
No one knows.

The truth is not set forth;
The false is basically vacant.
Put both existence and non-existence aside,
Then even non-vacancy is vacant,
The twenty kinds of vacancy have no basis,
And the oneness of the Tathagata-being
Is naturally sameness.

Mind is the base, phenomena are dust;
Yet both are like a flaw in the mirror.
When the flaw is brushed aside,
The light begins to shine.
When both mind and phenomena are forgotten,
Then we become naturally genuine.

Ah, the degenerate materialistic world!
People are unhappy; they find self-control difficult.
In the centuries since Shakyamuni, false views are deep,
Demons are strong, the Dharma is weak, disturbances are many.

People hear the Buddha's doctrine of immediacy,
And if they accept it, the demons will be crushed
As easily as a roofing tile.
But they cannot accept, what a pity!

Your mind is the source of action;
Your body is the agent of calamity;
No pity nor blame to anyone else.
If you don't seek an invitation to hell,
Never slander the Tathagata's true teaching.

In the sandalwood forest, there is no other tree.
Only the lion lives in such deep luxuriant woods,
Wandering freely in a state of peace.
Other animals and birds stay far away.

Just baby lions follow the parent,
And three-year-olds already roar loudly.
How can the jackal pursue the king of the Dharma
Even with a hundred-thousand demonic arts?

The Buddha's doctrine of directness
Is not a matter for human emotion.
If you doubt this or feel uncertain,
Then you must discuss it with me.
This is not the free rein of a mountain monk's ego.
I fear your training may lead to wrong views
Of permanent soul or complete extinction.

Being is not being; non-being is not non-being;
Miss this rule by a hair,
And you are off by a thousand miles.
Understanding it, the dragon-child abruptly attains Buddhahood;
Misunderstanding it, the greatest scholar falls into hell.

From my youth I piled studies upon studies,
In sutras and sastras I searched and researched,
Classifying terms and forms, oblivious to fatigue.
I entered the sea to count the sands in vain
And then the Tathagata scolded me kindly
As I read "What profit in counting your neighbor's treasure?"
My work had been scattered and entirely useless,
For years I was dust blown by the wind.

If the seed-nature is wrong, misunderstandings arise,
And the Buddha's doctrine of immediacy cannot be attained.
Shravaka and Pratyeka students may study earnestly
But they lack aspiration.
Others may be very clever,
But they lack prajna.

Stupid ones, childish ones,
They suppose there is something in an empty fist.
They mistake the pointing finger for the moon.
They are idle dreamers lost in form and sensation.

Not supposing something is the Tathagata.
This is truly called Kwan-Yin, the Bodhisattva who sees freely.
When awakened we find karmic hindrances fundamentally empty.
But when not awakened, we must repay all our debts.

The hungry are served a king's repast,
And they cannot eat.
The sick meet the king of doctors;
Why don't they recover?
The practice of Zen in this greedy world --
This is the power of wise vision.
The lotus lives in the midst of the fire;
It is never destroyed.

Pradhanashura broke the gravest precepts;
But he went on to realize the unborn.
The Buddhahood he attained in that moment
Lives with us now in our time.

The incomparable lion roar of the doctrine!
How sad that people are stubbornly ignorant;
Just knowing that crime blocks enlightenment,
Not seeing the secret of the Tathagata teaching.

Two monks were guilty of murder and carnality.
Their leader, Upali, had the light of a glow-worm;
He just added to their guilt.
Vimalakirti cleared their doubts at once
As sunshine melts the frost and snow.

The remarkable power of emancipation
Works wonders innumerable as the sands of the Ganges.
To this we offer clothing, food, bedding, medicine.
Ten thousand pieces of gold are not sufficient;
Though you break your body
And your bones become powder, --
This is not enough for repayment.
One vivid word surpasses millions of years of practice.

The King of the Dharma deserves our highest respect.
Tathagatas, innumerable as sands of the Ganges,
All prove this fact by their attainment.
Now I know what the Mani-jewel is:
Those who believe this will gain it accordingly.

When we see truly, there is nothing at all.
There is no person; there is no Buddha.
Innumerable things of the universe
Are just bubbles on the sea.
Wise sages are all like flashes of lightning

However the burning iron ring revolves around my head,
With bright completeness of dhyana and prajna
I never lose my equanimity.
If the sun becomes cold, and the moon hot,
Evil cannot shatter the truth.
The carriage of the elephant moves like a mountain,
How can the mantis block the road?

The great elephant does not loiter on the rabbit's path.
Great enlightenment is not concerned with details.
Don't belittle the sky by looking through a pipe.
If you still don't understand,
I will settle it for you.

Cheng-tao ko by Hsüan-chüeh
Tr. Robert Aitken and Eido Shimano

Commentary by Jos Slabbert

Zenshū Shiburoku
The Zenshū Shiburoku, The Four Texts of the Zen Sect, is a collection of four essential Zen texts which are being used in Japan as introductory texts in the education of novice Zen monks. The collection consists of the Jūgyūzu (Ten Oxherding Pictures), the Shinjinmei (Faith in mind), attributed to the third Chinese Chan-patriarch Sengcan, the Shōdōka (Song of Enlightenment), attributed to Yongjia Xuanjue, and the Zazengi (The Principles of Zazen), written by Dogen.




Song of Liberation
by Yongjia (Yoka daishi, d. 713)
Translated by Ven. Anzan Hoshin roshi and Yasuda Joshu Dainen roshi

Have you ever seen one of the Way?

Beyond action and beyond learning,
one is at ease,

not struggling against delusion
or grasping after the truth.

One sees the nature of ignorance
to be itself Essential Awareness,

and the illusion of one's own body
is the Realm of Reality.

Completely realizing
the Realm of Reality to be objectless,

one finds oneself the source of all things
and one's own nature to be Awake Awareness.

The five aggregates arise and decay like
aimless clouds,
the three distorted orientations come and go
like bubbles on water.

Realizing Suchness, neither self nor things exist;
in one moment cause and effect are liberated.

If anything I say is untrue
may my tongue be pulled out for countless eons.

In a single moment of direct awakening
to the Zen of Reality as a continuous presencing,
the six perfections and countless skillful means
are complete.

The six realms of existence are a dream,
in waking they are nowhere to be found.

No error, no happiness, no loss, no gain;
you won't find these in the Actual Nature.

Having given up wiping dust from the mirror,
its brilliance is completely seen.

Who is it that thinks of
not-thinking and non-existence?
The Unborn is realized
within the born.

Can a wooden puppet attain Buddhahood
by its practice of not-thinking?

Without grasping at the four elements of this body,
drink and eat aligned with the Actual Nature.

Appearances9 are empty, all is impermanent;
this is the complete view of the Those Gone Into Thusness.

As a true monk I speak the truth.
If you don't agree with me, let's discuss it;

but remember that the Way of Awake Awareness
aims for the root
and is not tangled in branches and leaves.

The wish-fulfilling pearl is not recognized by beings
but here it is
within the matrix of Reality as a continual presencing.

The functioning of the six senses are neither
"is" nor "not",
and come from luminosity neither
formed nor formless.

Clarifying the five kinds of vision
brings the five powers.

When you experience the truth
you are without speculation.

You can see your reflection in a mirror;
but can you grasp the moon
reflected in the water?

We always walk alone;
yet those who have attained all tread
the same Way of liberation.

Following this ancient Way, have a light heart.
Wild looking, bones hardened,
no one will notice you.

The poverty of a child of the Buddha is obvious,
but this poverty doesn't include her Zen.

Patched robes show one's poverty
but the mind of Zen is beyond all value.

This priceless jewel can be used without hesitation
in caring for beings and ripening potentials.

The three facets of Experiencing and four wisdoms are complete
in this treasure;
the six subtle perceptions and eight liberations are marks
from this seal.

Excellent students go right to the source.
Fair and poor are hesitant to reveal
and give up their soiled veils,
and are proud of their external struggling.

If folks argue and slander you, let them:
they are playing with fire, trying to burn the sky.

When I hear them, their words are drops of nectar
and show me that this moment is free from conception.

Abusive words are disguised blessings
and my abusers good teachers.

This mind has room for slander and abuse
and is itself unborn compassion and patience.

Penetrate both the Transmission and the teachings,
practice harmonization and radical insight with brilliance,
unclouded by notions of "voidness".

I am not alone in this attainment
which Buddhas numberless as grains of sand
have displayed.

I'll freely speak the lion's Roar of Reality
which strikes fear into the hearts of beasts.

As the elephant flees, forgetting his pride
the heavenly dragon listens silent and joyful.

In the past I've crossed mountains and rivers
searching for masters and teachings in Zen.

Now I know the path of Caoxi and
my realization is beyond birth and death.

Don't lose your Zen whether walking or sitting,
be at ease in speech or silence, moving or staying,

Be calm even when facing a sword
and your clarity will never be poisoned.

Our Teacher Sakyamuni met his Teacher Dipamkara
only after practising patience through countless eons.

Birth and death follow each other ceaselessly.
Awaken directly to Unborn Reality

and be free from joy about fame
or sorrow over loss.

Stay in hermitages
in mountains and valleys amongst the pines.

Practice joyfully in vacant cabins.
Live free from complexity.

Understand Reality and your actions are without effort
unlike the actions of the usual person.

Charity given within conditions for heavenly reward
is like shooting arrows into the sky.

When its force is spent, the arrow falls
just as beings go up, then down.

The realm of conditionless action is not like that:
it is a direct leap into the realm of Those Gone Into Thusness.

Go to the root, leaving the branches.
It is like the bright moon reflected in a crystal.

Understand the jewel of liberation
and use it to benefit yourself and all others.

The moon rises over the river,
wind moves in the pines

all through the night. Purity. Calm.
What does this calm mean?

Vividly see the precepts of Essential Awareness
and the seal of the mind-ground.

Dew, fog, clouds, mists
are the true robes of our bodies.

The monk's bowl that subdued dragons,
the staff that calmed fighting tigers
with the sound of its hanging rings

are not just relics from some old fable
but symbols of the Thus Come One's precious Teachings.

Don't seek truth or avoid delusion:
both are wholly empty, without form.

Neither empty nor formless,
this is the body of the Buddha.

The luminous mirror of Knowing reflects all shown it,
its vast brilliance pervades numberless worlds.

All that is, the ten thousand experiences,
arise as this luminosity beyond within or without.

Don't grasp at "voidness" and ignore cause and effect;
such reckless confusion leads only to suffering.

Rejecting the truth and grasping at entities is
also a mistake,
it's like jumping into a fire to avoid drowning.

To reject delusion and grasp at the truth
suits perfectly the mind of like and dislike.

Students who practice this way,
it's like mistaking a thief as your own son.

Ignoring the treasure of Reality and losing the merit
to Awaken self and others
is due to the eighth, seventh and sixth consciousnesses.

With direct insight into these, practice Zen
and realise the Unborn with Radiant Intelligence.

Be strong and use the sword of insight.
It's blade is sharp and bright as the vajra,

it severs confusion
and the pride of shining beings and demons.

The thunder of the Reality rolls:
beat the drum of the Teachings,

spread clouds of compassion
and loose the rain of nectar.

"Dragons" and "elephants" arise to benefit countless beings
and lead the five types of students through
the Three Aspects of the Teachings.

The milk from the Himalayas is pure and rich,
it makes the ghee that I enjoy.

One nature pervades all natures.
One thing holds all things.

One moon is reflected in all waters,
all these reflections are one moon.

The Realm of Reality of all Buddhas is my own nature,
my own nature is all the Thus Come Ones.

One stage of practice contains all stages,
without form, without thought or action.

In a finger snap eighty thousand doors are open
and three great eons vanish in an instant.

Names and categories and being without them
have nothing to do with Perfect Knowing.

It is without praise or blame,
It is without boundaries, like space.

It is wherever you stand.

It is free of struggle and searching.

It cannot be held or released.

Give up the search.
It is here.

Its silence speaks, its speech is silent.
Its great giving opens the door wide.

If you ask me what doctrine I teach
I'll tell you it's Vast Awareness.

No one can agree or disagree with this
and even the shining beings can only speculate.

Having practiced this for many years,
I have no choice but to tell you the truth.

"Raise the banner of the Teachings,
proclaim the Teachings of the Lineage."

Such was the Buddha's command to Caoxi.

In the Indian records, Mahakasyapa was the first
to receive and transmit the Lamp
and then down through twenty eight Ancestors.

Through the First Ancestor Bodhidharma
the Teachings of Reality came east to the Middle Kingdom,

through Six Ancestors who received the robe,
and then to countless who have realized the Way.

Truth does not stand alone, the false doesn't exist alone.
When ideas of ‘being ‘ and ‘non-being' vanish
all is empty.

The teachings about twenty emptinesses
are intended to disentangle you;
All are the display of this one body
of the Thus Come.

Mind arises with experiences as its objects.
Subject and object are dust on a mirror.

Free of dust, the mirror shines.
The Actual Nature is known
when mind and things do not arise.

In this Age of Ending and this sad world
suffering beings resist the truth.

The time of the Buddha is long gone and confusion is deep.
Delusion is strong, practice is weak,
fear and hatred increase.

Hearing the Direct Way of the Thus Come,
some regret not being able to smash it to pieces.

Craving gives rise to suffering.
Don't blame others for your own actions.

If you don't want to live in suffering
do not slander the Teachings turned by the Thus Come.

Only sandalwood
grows with sandalwood.

Lions rest in dark groves, wander alone and at ease
where no other birds or animals are found.

Lion cubs follow the elders
and even a three year old can give the roar.

A fox, even if he trails after the king of the Teachings,
can still only yelp in vain.

The radical Direct Teaching is beyond sentiment;
there is no room for doubt or hesitation.

This monk doesn't say this to create divisions;
it's just that you should know
about the trap of permanence and its opposite.

Right isn't "right", wrong isn't "wrong";
yet an inch of deviation leads a thousand miles off.

A girl of the dragon people who didn't stray from the source,
at once realized Buddha,
while Sunaksatra was reborn in the hells.

In my youth I collected knowledge,
reading the Discourses and commentaries.

I fell into name and form, which makes as much sense
as trying to count the sands on the ocean floor.

The Buddha was speaking about me when he said,
"What gain is there in counting another's treasure?"

I realized how for many years I had gone astray
and wandered lost.

Due to crooked inclinations and wrong views
the Thus Come's Direct Perfection is misunderstood.

Men of the Narrow Path practice without compassion,
worldly scholars have knowledge but no wisdom.

Foolish, with wrong interpretations,
they miss the pointing finger of the empty hand.

Mistaking the finger for the moon
their practice is confused
and they fabricate complexity with senses and objects.

When not one thing is seen, this
is the Realm of Reality as a Continual Presencing
and one is truly the Sovereign Seer.

Understand the truth, and all conditional hindrances
are nowhere to be found;
not knowing true emptiness you worry
about debits and credits.

This is like a starving man turning down a
feast for a king,
or someone ill refusing the physician's prescription.

Practice Zen in this world of desires
like a lotus blossoming in the midst of flames.

Even Pradhanasura, although he broke the grave precepts
woke up to the Unborn and achieved his realization of the Buddha.

Having heard the Lion's Roar, the fearless teaching,
what will become of those who obstinately waver?

Breaking their precepts, losing their wisdom,
they ignore the open door to the Thus Come.

Once two monks, one who had committed sexual misconduct,
the other had taken life,
were condemned by Upali's flickering wisdom.

The great being Vimalakirti erased their doubts
like the sun melting frost and snow.

The inconceivable power to liberate beings
has activities numberless as the sands of the Ganges.

Making the four kinds of offerings,
even a thousand gold pieces would not be enough;

reducing bones and body to dust could not repay
words ensuring a leap over numberless eons.

This is the supreme Sovereign Reality,
the experience of countless Thus Come Ones.

Understanding what this precious jewel of mind is
I now transmit it to any who will receive it.

Seeing clearly, there is not one thing,
not man, not Buddha.

The worlds of the universe are like froth on the sea,
sages and wise men appear like lightening.

Even with a hot iron wheel burning on one's head,
great realized-practice will not be stirred.

Even if demons can cool the sun and heat the moon,
they cannot obstruct the truth of these words.

When an elephant-drawn carriage moves
can a praying mantis block its passing?

Elephants cannot fit into a rabbit's tracks,
enlightenment cannot be circumscribed.

Don't abuse the ultimate with narrow views.

If you are not yet clear, this Song gives the key.




Song of Enlightenment
By Yoka Daishi
English version by Osho

Do you not see him, the really wise man,
always at ease, unmoved?

He does not get rid of illusion,
nor does he seek for the (so-called) truth.

Ignorance is intrinsically the Buddha nature,
our illusory unreal body
is the cosmic body.

Getting rid of things
and clinging to emptiness
is an illness of the same kind;

It is just like throwing oneself into a fire
to avoid being drowned.

When asked, "What is your religion?"
I answer "The power of the makahannya."

Sometimes affirming things, sometimes denying them,
it is beyond the wisdom of man.

Sometimes with common sense, sometimes against it,
Heaven cannot make head or tail of it.

Cutting off the root (of life and death) directly
This is the mark of Buddhahood;

If you go on plucking the leaves (of creeds)
And seeking branches (of abstract principles),
I can do nothing for you.
Do not seek for the truth,
Do not cut off delusions.

Trying to get rid of illusion,
And seeking to grasp reality,-
This giving up and keeping
Is mere sophistry and lies.

The moon reflected in the stream,
The wind blowing through the pines
In the cool of the evening,
In the deep midnight,-
What is it for?

When we attain reality,
It is seen to be neither
Personal nor impersonal.

There is no sin, no paradise,
No loss or gain;
About this transcendentality,
No questions!

Who is thought-less?
Who is birth-less?


He always walks by himself,
Saunters by himself.

From the time I recognized the road,
I realized I had nothing to do with
birth and death.

Walking is Zen, sitting is Zen;
Talking or silent, moving unmoving,-
The essence is at ease.

Entering the deep mountains
I live in quiet solitude,
The hills are high, the valleys deep
When one lives beneath an old pine tree.


We get rid of illusions and acquire truth,
But this is discrimination;
Our mind is cleverly false.

All principles are no principles;
They have no relation
to spiritual perception.


It never leaves this place,
And it is always perfect.

When you look for it
You find you can't see it.

You can't get at it,
You can't be rid of it.

When you do neither, there it is!


When you are silent, it speaks;
When you speak, it is silent.




Sho-do-ka – Song of Realization
Yoka-daishi (d.713)
Excerpted from Buddhism and Zen
Compiled, edited and translated by Nyogen Senzaki and Ruth Stout McCandless
(New York: The Philosophical Library, 1953), pp. 32-72.

The stanzas italicized were translated from a copy of the original by Nyogen Senzaki, and the commentary following the stanzas was from Senzaki’s own instructions to his students.


The minute you attain Buddha’s Zen,
the six noble deeds and the ten thousand good actions are already complete within you.
In your dream there are six paths,
But when you awake, they will be reduced to nothingness.

No sin, no happiness, no loss and no gain.
Do not try to seek these things in Mind-Essence.
For a long time you have not wiped the dust from your mirror.
Now is the time for you to see its brilliance precisely.

Who thinks non-thinking and who recognizes non-existence?
It if is really non-existence, you cannot think of it.
Ask a robot whether it is happy or not.
As long as you aim to become Buddha,
No matter how you strive, you will never be one.

Do not cling to the four elements.
Drink and eat according to your true nature.
Things are transient, therefore, they are in a state of emptiness.
This is Buddha’s realization.

A true disciple of Buddha speaks the ultimate truth.
If you do not agree with what I say, you are free to discuss it.
You must remember, however, that Buddhism is concerned with the root of truth,
Not with the branches or leaves.

Most people do not recognize the mani-jewel, the gem of wisdom.
It is hidden in the secret place of Tathagata awaiting discovery and attainment.
The six senses and the six worlds interweave making life as it is.
It is an illusion as a whole, yet nothing exists to be called illusion.
The perfect light of this mani-jewel, the gem of wisdom, illuminates humanity.
It has neither color nor form, nor has it non-color and non-form.

Clarify the five kinds of vision, and acquire the five powers.
It is only possible through Zen meditation that goes beyond speculation.
One can see the images in the mirror naturally.
To hold the reflections of the moon on the water is impossible.

A Zen student should walk alone at all times.
Those who have attained, tread the same road of Nirvana.
Each of them is natural in manner, and clean and contented of heart.
Since not one of them is concerned with special attraction, no one pays them much attention.

The followers of Buddha speak of their poverty.
The simplicity of their living may be called poor, but not their Zen.
A monk’s gown, torn and mended, shows the world his poverty;
His Zen, unseen by others, is the treasure beyond all value.

No matter how much it is used, the priceless treasure never deteriorates.
It may be given freely to others who need it.
The three bodies of Buddha and the four kinds of wisdom are completely contained within it.
The eight sorts of emancipation and the six miraculous powers are merely impressions of the same seal.

The excellent student of Zen goes directly to the ultimate truth.
The fair or good ones like to learn from others but have no steady faith.
Once you strip off the tattered clothing of prejudice you will see your true self.
How can you wander around in outward striving?


One who attains Zen must acquire its eloquence.
Meditation and wisdom must have their full brilliance unclouded by an idea of emptiness.
Such an accomplishment is not limited to the few.
The Buddhas, countless as the sands of the Ganges, are all witness to this fact.


Zen students journey by land and sea, across rivers and over mountains.
Visiting monasteries and receiving personal guidance from teachers.
I also followed the Way, reaching So-kei, where I met my master and received Dharma.
Now I know my true being has nothing to do with birth and death.

A Zen student walks in Zen and sits in Zen.
Whether in speech and action, or silence and inaction, his body always dwells in peace.
He smiles, facing the sword that takes his life.
He keeps poise even at the moment of death, nor can drugs alter his calm.

Our great teacher, Sakyamuni, met Dipankara Buddha many millions of years ago, and accepted his Dharma.
Ever since, he is master of Ksanti, perserverance, life after life.

Man is born many times, so they die many times.
Life and death continue endlessly.
If you realize the true meaning of the unborn,
You will transcend both gladness and grief.


An ideal Zen student neither seeks the true
Nor avoids the untrue.
They know that these are merely dualistic ideas
That have no form.
Non-form is neither empty nor not empty.
It is the true form of Buddha’s wisdom.

To assist you in the interpretation of this stanza I shall paraphrase a portion of Shin-jin-mei, a poem written by the Third Patriarch in China.

“Truth is like vast space without entrance or exit. There is nothing more, nor nothing less. Foolish people limit themselves, covering their eyes, but truth is never hidden. Some attend lectures trying to grasp truth in the words of others. Some accumulate books trying to dig truth from the pile of trash. They are both wrong. A few of the wiser ones may learn meditation in their effort to reach an inner void. They chose the void rather than outer entanglements, but it is still the same old dualistic trick. Just think non-thinking if you are a true Zen student.
There you do not know anything, but you are with everything. There is no choice nor preference, and dualism will vanish by itself. But if you stop moving and hold quietness, that quietness is ever in motion. If children make a noise, you will scold them loudly so that the situation is worse than before. Just forget and ignore the noise, and you will attain peace of mind. When you forget your liking and disliking, you will get a glimpse of oneness. The serenity of this middle way is quite different from the inner void.”

The mind mirror illuminates all ingenuously.
Its penetrating, limitless rays reach everywhere
In the universe.
Without exception everything is reflected
In this mirror.
The whole universe is a gem of light
Beyond the terms of in and out.

Here is another portion of the Shin-jin-mei to interpret the preceding stanza:

“Zen transcends time and space. Ten thousand years are nothing but a thought after all. What you have seen is what you had in the whole world. If your thought transcends time and space, you will know that the smallest thing is large and the largest thing is small; that being is non-being and non-being is being. Without such experience you will hesitate to do anything. If you can realize that one is many, and many are one, your Zen will be completed.

“Faith and mind-essence are not separate from each other. You will see only the ‘not two.’ The ‘not two’ is the faith. The ‘not two’ is the mind essence. There is no other way but silence to express it properly. This silence is not the past. This silence is not the present. This silence is not the future.”

When a Zen student sees emptiness one-sidedly,
They are likely to ignore the law of causation,
Then live aimlessly with impure thoughts and wrong actions.
This idea is morbid as they deny the existence of anything,
But admit an entity of emptiness.
To escape drowning, they have thrown themselves into the fire.

To “see emptiness onesidedly” is to give another name to relativity, phenomenality or nothingness. When Buddhism denies the existence of anything, this of course includes the existence of emptiness. There is order; there is the law of causation. The use of the word “emptiness” implies that which cannot be spoken.

One who rejects delusions to search for truth,
May achieve skill in discrimination,
But such a student will never reach enlightenment
Because they mistake the enemy for their own child

Some Christians admire an angel but hate a devil. Some Confucians pine for the ancient kingdom but complain of the present government. All of them attempt to take hold of the true by abandoning the false. They struggle endlessly, but never attain true peacefulness. Zen students who try to reach truth by rejecting delusions are making the same mistake. Learn silence and work on constantly in silence, to see clearly what the mind is.

People miss the spiritual treasure and lose merit
Because they depend on dualistic thinking
And neglect the essence of mind.
To pass through the gate of Zen,
One must correct this error.
Then one can attain the wisdom
To enter the palace of Nivana.

Buddhists often refer to the ‘seven treasures’ (paramitas), which are faith, perseverance, listening, humility, precepts, self surrender, and meditation and wisdom. Meditation and wisdom are considered as one, inner cultivation and outer illumination. To acquire these seven treasures one must first of all see Mind-Essence clearly, just as Aladdin had first to find the lamp before he could produce other wonders.

Wobaku, a Chinese Zen master, once said, “Buddhas and sentient beings both grow out of One Mind, and there is no reality other than this Mind…Only because we seek it outwardly in a world of form, the more we seek, the farther away it moves from us. To make Buddha seek after himself, or to make Mind take hold of itself, this is impossible to the end of eternity. We do not realize that as soon as our thoughts cease and all attempts at forming ideas are forgotten, the Buddha is revealed before us.”


You cannot praise nor blame realization.
Like the sky, truth has no bounds.
Wherever you stand, it surrounds you.
When you seek it, you cannot reach it;
Your hand cannot hold it,
Nor your mind exclude it.
When you no longer seek it, it is with you.
In silence, you speak it loudly;
In speech you manifest its silence.
Thus the gate of compassion opens wide
To the benefit of all beings.

When you begin to study Zen, you aim to attain realization. Your motive is good in so far as motive is concerned, but in your meditation you should aim at nothing. You may aim at realization to encourage yourself when you are not meditating, but beware of clinging entanglements. Encouragement is one thing, meditation is another. Do not mix them up. Carry your meditation as the eternal present, and saturate your everyday life with it.

When a person asks me what branch of
Buddhism I studied, I tell him about
Mahaprajna, the root of the teaching.
Without Mahaprajna, though you know right and wrong,
You are beyond the truth.
With the root of the teaching,
Wherever you go it is the land of truth.

The teaching came from Buddha through the generations.
The lamp of wisdom was first transmitted to Mahakasyapa,
Then genealogically through twenty eight patriarchs.
Bodhidharma, the Patriarch of India, came to
This country across the seas.
My teacher, who works in So-kei,
Received his robe to become the Sixth Patriarch
Who knows how many generations will carry the teaching
In the future?

Buddhism is the teaching of self-enlightenment. No God or gods will help you to realize the truth. The power of realization within you is called Mahaprajna, meaning great wisdom. This is the root of the teaching, the source of all streams of Buddhistic thought. Those who speculate, reading scriptures or clinging to creeds and dogmas, wander far from realization. Ethical deeds and kind actions may be praised, but they are without real value until they spring from Mahaprajna. The brilliancy of Mahaprajna illumines all beings; Buddhas and Patriarchs reflect this brilliance one to the other.

The true does not stand by itself,
And the false never exists alone.
When the idea of existence and non-existence
Vanishes, the idea of emptiness and non-emptiness
The Sutra gives twenty names to emptiness, each showing
You the one body of Buddha-nature.

The mind rises and contacts the outer world,
Thus, delusions appear.
Subjectivity and objectivity are like dust on the
Surface of a mirror.
When the mirror is free of dust,
It shines brightly.
If no mind rises, there is no contact,
No delusion; only the true nature appears.

Yoka is warning us not to postulate true and false. Without dualism many can easily reach the truth, but they must experience it in their meditation. The goal of meditation is beyond words and ideas The names of emptiness are like lists of drugs. If you are well and strong, you are not interested in them. Many teachers seek to hold or to mystify a student by using the various designations of good or evil built up through the ages. If you wish to make a business of teaching, then memorize the names, but if you want emancipation for yourself and others, give up the drug business and practice Zen meditation.


No other trees grow in the forest of sandalwood;
For countless ages only lions have lived there,
Roaming freely in the silent, dark grove.
No birds and no other animals enter the forest,
Only the lion cubs follow the older beasts.
Even the three year old cub roars loudly.
How can a yelping fox imitate the kind of Dhamma?
Even though hundreds of monsters open
Their mouths, it will be in vain.

It is said in India that no inferior trees grow near a forest of sandalwood, so Buddhists use the name as a symbol of ultimate wisdom. In this stanza birds and beasts represent fame and glory. Monks are indifferent to these in any form in any age. Only the lion cubs can follow the older lions, and even they have learned to roar while still young. A yelping fox may fool some with his imitations, as a false teacher will use the words and rituals of true teachings, but when he meets a real lion he will be helpless.

Zen doctrine is no subject for sentiment.
Doubts cannot be cleared by argument.
I stubbornly demand your silence
To save you from the pitfall of being and non-being.

Zen allows no student to waste time even for a second. If you have a koan, work on it; if you have no koan, just count your breath. Doubt? What is it? Just keep on meditating. This is the only means of learning to walk the Middle Way.




Master Yongjia Xuanjue (665-713)
Song of Enlightenment

Translated by John Balcom

Do you not see?
Practitioners of the Way live at ease, effortless, and have no more to learn,
They need not remove delusion or seek truth;
The true nature of ignorance is Buddha nature.1
The illusion of this empty body is the Dharmakaya.2

When awakened to the Dharmakaya there is no thing;
The source of intrinsic nature is the true3 Buddha.
The five aggregates4 come and go like clouds in the sky,
The three poisons5 appear and disappear like bubbles.

Realize reality—no self or phenomena;
In a split-second, avici6 karma is eliminated.
If this is a lie to deceive sentient beings
Then let my tongue be pulled out for countless kalpas.7

Suddenly awaken to the Tathagata’s8 Chan;
The six paramitas, the ten thousand practices, are complete.
While dreaming, the six realms of existence9 are clear.
After awakening, the universe is empty.

No wrongdoing or merit, no gain or loss—
Such things are not sought in nirvana.
From long ago, the dusty mirror remains unpolished.
Now it is time to clean and appraise it.

Who is without thoughts? For whom do they not arise?
If they truly do not arise, this is not non-arising.
Ask a mechanical wooden puppet,
If praying for Buddhahood and applying effort, will it be attained sooner or later?

Let go of the four great elements,10 do not attach to them.
Within tranquility11 you may eat and drink.
Conditioned phenomena are impermanent—all are empty.
This is the Tathagata’s great, perfect enlightenment.

Speak with certainty, express the true vehicle.
Some will not do so, but will express the meaning through emotion.
Go directly to the source, what is approved by the Buddha.
Do not pluck leaves and search for twigs.

This mani pearl,12 people do not recognize it.
Inside the Tathagatagarbha13 you can personally know it.
With the six kinds of supernatural power14 the world is neither empty nor non-empty;
The pearl, round and bright, does not distinguish opaque and transparent.

Purify the five eyes,15 acquire the five powers.16
Realize—only then know it is difficult to fathom.
To see one’s image in a mirror is not difficult,
But how can one grasp the moon in water?

Often traveling alone, often walking alone,
Together, those who have attained the Way enjoy the road to nirvana.
Their discipline is ancient, spirit pure, and manner elevated.
The face is worn, but their bones are strong—no one pays them any mind.

Disciples of Sakyamuni17 speak of poverty,
While materially poor, in the Way they are not poor.
With such poverty they are always dressed in rags,
But their minds contain the Way: a priceless pearl.

The pearl is priceless, used endlessly.
Benefitting beings according to their faculties, tirelessly.
The three bodies18 and the four wisdoms19 are realized within,
The eight dhyana20 states and six supernatural powers confirm the mind.21

When the best awaken they understand all.
For the middling and lowly, even as they listen more they do not believe.
Having just removed one’s sullied clothing
How can right diligence be taught?

Let them criticize you, let them wrong you,
Lifting a torch to set fire to the sky only makes one weary.
What I hear is like drinking sweet dew;
It melts down, and suddenly enters the incredible.

Contemplate evil words as merit,
They can be my good Dharma friends.
It is not because of slander that some become adversaries.
How then to express the highest loving-kindness and patience?

The Chan school is understood, all other teachings are understood.
Meditative concentration and wisdom are fully understood, not imprisoned by emptiness.
Not only do I understand this,
All Buddhas, countless as river sand, do so as well.

Roar like a lion,22 speak fearlessly.
Hundreds of beasts hear—their skulls split.
The elephant scrambles and loses its majesty.
The heavenly dragon quietly listens and becomes joyful.

I crossed rivers and seas, climbed mountains,
Searching for teachers and the Way to practice Chan.
After learning the road to Caoxi,23
I understand that birth and death have nothing to do with me.

Walking is Chan, sitting is Chan.
Speech, silence, motion, and stillness—their essence is peace.
Even confronting a sharp knife, I am calm,
Even if poisoned, unperturbed.

How many births? How many deaths?
Birth and death, on and on, without end,
After suddenly awakening to the unborn,24
Facing horror or insult, how can one feel worry or joy?

Entering deep into the mountains, living in a vihara25
In the depths of high mountains, underneath the tall pines—
Freely meditating in this expansive hermitage;
Tranquil, in carefree solitude.

Already enlightened, no need to apply effort.
All conditioned phenomena are different.
If abiding in form; giving arises rebirth in heaven.
Like an arrow shot into the sky

Its force spent, it falls to earth again,
Bringing unhappy lives in the future.
This cannot compare to unconditioned reality,
Which leads straight to the Tathagata ground.26

Attaining the root, do not worry about the branches;
Like the pure crystal which contains a treasured moon—
If you can understand what the mani pearl is
You can benefit yourself and others endlessly.

The moon is reflected in the river, the wind blows through the pines;
The night is long and quiet, what am I to do?
Buddha nature and the jewel of the precepts confirm the mind.
Fog, clouds, dew, and mist are now my clothes.

The bowl that tames nagas,27 a staff that separates tigers,28
Two golden rings jingle on the staff.
These are not empty symbols.
The Tathagata’s own precious staff leaves a trail.

Do not seek the truth, do not eliminate illusions.
Understand that the two phenomena are empty and formless.
No form, no emptiness, no non-emptiness.
This is the true form of the Tathagata.

The mind’s mirror is clear, reflecting without obstruction.
It shines in worlds as numerous as grains of sand.
All phenomena appear inside.
One orb, round and bright, with no distinction of internal or external.

Understanding emptiness, yet removing cause and effect,
Broad, boorish action only brings disaster.
Giving up existence and attaching to emptiness is also illness,
Like one who escapes drowning only to fall into fire.

Abandon the deluded mind, take hold of the truth;
The mind that attaches and abandons swirls towards skillful falsehood.
A student who does not understand uses this practice—
He mistakes a thief for his son.

Losing Dharma wealth and destroying merit
Comes from such a mind.
The Chan school realizes the mind
And suddenly enters the unborn with the power of knowledge and vision.

A great being wields the sword of wisdom,
With a prajna29 point and the vajra’s30 fire—
Not only can it subdue the outsider’s mind,
But demons also tremble.

The Dharma thunder crashes, the Dharma drum is beaten,
Spreading clouds of compassion and sprinkling sweet dew.
Wherever nagas and elephants tread brings boundless benefits.
The three vehicles31 and the five natures32 all awaken.

In the snowy mountains the milk is fatty and unalloyed,
Its purity produces ghee which I often enjoy.
If one nature is understood, all nature is understood.
One Dharma contains all others.

One moon universally appears on all waters;
All reflected moons are one moon.
The Dharmakaya of all Buddhas enters my nature;
My nature is one with the Tathagata.

When one ground is completed, so are all grounds.33
No form, no mind, no karma.
In a fingersnap the eighty thousand Dharma doors34 are realized,
In a split-second avici karma is ended.

All Dharma words are not Dharma words,
What do they have to do with my awakening?
Unable to slander, unable to praise,
Its essence is like space: boundless.

Do not turn away from this place, forever clear,
But look for it and it cannot be found.
It cannot be obtained, it cannot be abandoned.
It is obtained by not obtaining.

When silent it speaks, when it speaks it is silent;
The gate of giving is open and unobstructed.
Someone asks me which school I understand,
I say it is the power of mahaprajna.35

Perhaps it is right, perhaps it is wrong. People do not know.
To retreat or go forward, heaven cannot measure.
I have already cultivated for many kalpas,
I do not speak glibly to fool you.

Raise the Dharma banner, establish the objective.
Clearly, the Buddha named Caoxi.
The first, Mahakasyapa36 handed down the light—
Twenty-eight Indian patriarchs are so recorded.

The Dharma flowed east, entered this land;
The first patriarch Bodhidharma,37
His robes transmitted for six generations,38 known the world over,
Countless descendants have attained the Way.

The truth is not fixed, delusion is intrinsically empty.
Existence, non-existence, get rid of these. Even emptiness is not empty.
Do not attach to the twenty teachings on emptiness.39
A single nature is the same as the essence of the Tathagata.

The mind is the root, phenomena are dust.
Both of these are like streaks in a mirror.
Wipe the mirror clean and it will shine.
When the mind and phenomena are forgotten, nature is true.

Now is the Dharma-declining age,40 a time of evil;
All beings lack fortune and they are difficult to discipline,
Sages are long gone and wrong views run deep,
Mara41 is strong, the Dharma is weak, and there is much violence.

Upon listening to the Tathagata’s sudden teaching
They want to smash it like a tile.
The mind acts, the body suffers.
Do not complain or blame others.

If you want to avoid avici karma,
Do not slander the true Dharma wheel42 of the Tathagata.
In a sandalwood grove, there are no other trees.
In the deep, dense forests the lion lives.

Walking alone in the quiet forest
From which all birds and beasts have fled
Only lion cubs follow
All are three years old, they can roar loudly.

If a fox were to try to chase off the Dharma king43
It is like a one hundred year old demon opening its jaws to no avail.
Perfect sudden teachings, without human emotion.
If you have unresolved doubts, find an answer.

I am not a mountain monk who distinguishes others and myself,
But fear that practitioners may fall into the holes of eternalism or nihilism.
Wrong, not wrong, right, not right,
If you miss by a hairbreadth, you miss by a thousand miles.

If right, the dragon girl attains Buddhahood.44
If wrong, Sunaksatra falls into hell.45
As a youth I gained much knowledge,
Studying the sutras, sastras, and commentaries.

I investigated terminology endlessly,
Entering the ocean to count the sand, imprisoning myself,
I was admonished by the Tathagata,
Of what profit is it to count another’s treasures?

From then until now, I realized I had wasted my time,
For years, misguided traveling,
Nature misused leads to wrong understanding,
Not understanding the Tathagata’s perfect, sudden teaching.

Those of the two vehicles46 study diligently, but they lack the mind of the Way;
Outsiders may be clever, but they lack wisdom.
Also ignorant, also stupid,
And take the empty fist and pointing finger to be real.

They mistake a pointing finger for the moon.47
The sense organs and objects are fabricated.
Not seeing a single phenomena, that is the Tathagata.
Only then can one be called, “contemplating at ease.”48

Realize that karmic hindrances are intrinsically empty,
If you do not realize, you will pay karmic debts.
Like how one who is starving cannot eat a king’s banquet
Or how a sick person can meet a great doctor and not be cured.

In this world, practice Chan and gain the power of knowledge and vision.
A lotus that blooms within flames will not deteriorate.
Pradhanasura, who broke the major precepts, later awakened to the unborn;
Long ago he attained Buddhahood, and has remained so until now.

The lion roars, fearlessly he speaks,
Deeply pity the ignorant, stupid, and stubborn,
They only know to commit great wrongdoing that obstructs bodhi,
They do not see the Tathagata open the secret teachings.

Once two monks broke the precepts against carnality and killing,
Upali gave them only a little light, increasing their worries,
Vimalakirti released their doubts at once,49
As the sun melts snow and frost.

The power of liberation, beyond conception,
It is my good Dharma friend.
The four kinds of offerings50 are given, and I do not tire.
Even ten thousand pieces of gold it deserves.

Even if one’s bones became powder and the body fell to pieces, it would not repay his kindness.
Understand one sentence and surpass ten billion kalpas,
King of the Dharma, most supreme,
More Tathagatas than sand in the Ganges have confirmed this.

I now understand this mani pearl
Those who believe and receive this teaching will accord with it
Realize this delusion, there is no thing;
Also no people, also no Buddha.

The great universe is like a bubble on the sea,
The sages are like flashes of lightning.
Even if a wheel of iron were grinding into my head,
My perfect, profound meditation and wisdom would not be lost.

The sun can cool, the moon can warm,
But even demons cannot change the truth.
An elephant pulls a cart steadily down a prosperous road,
Can a praying mantis block its way?

A great elephant does not travel on a rabbit’s path;
Great enlightenment is not hampered by a trivial point.
Do not attempt to witness heaven along a reed.
If still you do not understand, I will resolve it for you.


1: The intrinsic potential for all living beings to become Buddhas.

2: One of the three bodies of the Buddha. The Dharmakaya is the aspect of the Buddha that pervades all of existence.

3: Literally “heavenly true,” suggestive of a certain effortless purity and naturalness.

4: Five aspects that make up the “self”: form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.

5: Greed, anger, and ignorance.

6: The lowest level of hell where beings suffer unceasingly. “Avici karma” refers to the extremely negative karma that results in rebirth there.

7: A unit of time measurement. A kalpa is an incalculably long period of time spanning the creation and destruction of the universe.

8: Literally “Thus Come.” Another name of the Buddha.

9: Heaven, the realm of asuras, the human realm, the animal realm, the realm of hungry ghosts, and hell.

10: Earth, water, fire, and wind. The Buddhist analysis of the totality of physical existence.

11: Synonynm for nirvana.

12: A mythical pearl capable of fulfilling wishes. In Buddhist writing it is used as a symbol for the incredible value of the Buddha’s teachings.

13: A synonym of Buddha nature.

14: Teleportation, celestial vision, celestial hearing, mind reading, knowledge of past lives, and destruction of all afflictions.

15: Five special types of perception which a practitioner gains through cultivation: the physical eye, the celestial eye, the wisdom eye, the Dharma eye, and the Buddha eye.

16: Faith, diligence, mindfulness, meditative concentration, and wisdom.

17: The historical Buddha.

18: An allusion to the three bodies of the Buddha.

19: Four supramundane types of wisdom gained by Buddhist practitioners as they cultivate their consciousness: the wisdom of perfect conduct, the wisdom of profound insight, the wisdom of universal equality, and perfect mirrorlike wisdom.

20: Successive stages of meditative concentration.

21: Literally “mind seal,” referencing the approval and confirmation of a student’s enlightenment by an enlightened teacher.

22: Common symbol for the Buddha teaching the Dharma.

23: Where Huineng taught; also used to refer to Huineng himself. Yongjia and Huineng’s encounter is recorded in the Platform Sutra.

24: Synonynm for nirvana.

25: Simple monastic dwelling. Hermitage.

26: The mental state of the Buddha.

27: Supernatural serpent. Reference to an episode early on in the Buddha’s teaching career where he wins a large number of converts by confining a naga in his bowl.

28: Reference to Chan Master Sengchou, who kept two tigers from fighting by using his staff.

29: Wisdom. [go back]

30: Refers to a mythical material that is indestructible, as well as a weapon made from such a material.

31: Three different means of Buddhist practice: sravaka, pratyekabuddha, and bodhisattva.

32: Ordinary people, sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, indefinite, and outsiders.

33: Literally “ground,” though also refers to a particular stage of a bodhisattva’s cultivation.

34: Symbolic number representing all the teachings of the Buddha.

35: Great wisdom. Also a reference to the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra, the central Buddhist sutra on emptiness and non-duality.

36: One of the ten great disciples of the Buddha, and the first Indian Chan patriarch.

37: Twenty-eighth Indian Chan patriarch, and the first monk to transmit the Chan School into China.

38: To signify the passing of the lineage in China, Bodhidharma gave his monastic robe and bowl to his successor. The robe and bowl was continually handed down until received by Huineng, who did not transmit it further.

39: Twenty different understandings of emptiness listed in the Perfection of Great Wisdom Sutra.

40: Period many years after the Buddha passes away when authentic Buddhist teachings no longer exist.

41: A malevolent being that embodies desire and is an adversary of the Buddha.

42: Symbol for the Buddha’s teachings.

43: Symbol for the Buddha.

44: Reference to the Devadatta Chapter of the Lotus Sutra, where a young dragon girl becomes a Buddha, though Sariputra, one of the Buddha’s disciples, claims that women are incapable of attaining Buddhahood.

45: Reference to the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, where the monk Sunaksatra falls into avici hell for slandering the Buddha and holding wrong views.

46: Sravakas and pratyekabuddhas.

47: Reference to an often repeated passage from the Suramgama Sutra: “One points a finger at the moon to show people. Such people should follow the finger to see the moon. Those who mistake the finger for the moon not only lose the moon, they lose the finger.”

48: Another name of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.

49: Reference to chapter 3 of the Vimalakirti Sutra. The situation of the monks is as described in the verse; Upali explains their transgressions according to the monastic rules, while Vimalakirti states that their transgressions are as illusory as all phenomena.

50: Clothing, food, shelter, and medicine.


Dialectic as a Self-conscious Movement

(From The Transmission of the Lamp, Chüan 5)
Original Teachings of Ch'an Buddhism. Translated by Chang Chung-yuan. New York: Random House, 1969. pp. 27-38.

CH'AN Master Yung-chia Hsüan-chio of Wên-chou49 was a
native of Yung-chia. His original surname was Tai. When
he was still young, he left his horne to become a Buddhist
monk. He studied all the sutras, vinayas, and sastras,60 beitig particularly
well versed in the profound and subtle teaching of cessation
and contemplation rnaintained by the T'ien-t'ai School. Even
in the practice of the four awe-inspiring departments of walking,
standing, sitting, and lying down, he was deep in the contemplation
of Ch'an. Encouraged by Ch'an Master Hsüan-lang of Tso-ch'i, he
set out one day with Ch'an Master Hsüan-ts'ê of Tung-yang to visit
the Sixth Patriarch in Ts'ao-ch'i.61
When he arrived there, he shook his staff and held a vase in his
hand; he walked around the Patriarch three times and then stood
still. The Patriarch said to him:
"A Buddhist monk is he who follows the three thousand regulations
and performs the eighty thousand detailed duties.52 Where
do you come from, sir? Why should you have such great self-pride?"
"Life and death are a serious matter," replied Yung-chia, ''and
death follows life with terrible speed."
"Why don't you attain no-birth and free yourself from this
speed?" inquired the Patriarch.
"Attainment is no-birth, and basic freedom is never speedy,"
replied Yung-chia.
"That's so! That's so!" exclaimed the Patriarch.
At this everyone in the assembly was astonished, and it was not
until then that Yung-chia observed the rule of bowing to the Patriarch.
A little while later he came to the Patriarch to bid him goodbye.
"Are you not leaving too soon?" asked the Patriarch.
"Basically, motion does not move. How can you say that I am
leaving too soon?" challenged Yung-chia.
"Who is he who is aware of no-movement?" asked the Patriarch.
"You, Master, are making this discrimination," replied Yungchia.
"You have grasped very well the meaning of no-birth."
"How can no-birth have meaning?"
"If it has no meaning, who can differentiate it?"
"Even though one may differentiate it, it is still meaningless."
The Patriarch exclaimed, "Good! Good! Please stay here for at
least one night."
Therefore, the people of that time called Yung-chia's visit "Enlightenment
from One Night's Lodging."
The following day Master Hsiian-ts'ê remained in Ts'ao-ch'i,
but Yung-chia went down the hill back to Wên-chou.
Students from many places gathered around Yung-chia, and he
was called the Great Master Chen-chio, or True Enlightenment. He
composed the Odes on Enlightenment, and also set forth his ideas
on the cultivation of Ch'an, in a step-by-step exposition. Wei-ching,
the governor of Ching-chou, compiled and arranged these
manuscripts in ten sections with a preface and entitled them the
Collected Works of Ch' an Master Yung-chia. This book was widely
read throughout the country.
The following is an outline of the Collected Works of Ch' an
Master Yung-chia:

Section I. Longing for the Tao and Deportment

He who wishes to follow the Tao must first be strongly determined
to achieve it, and then must model his conduct after his
masters. Deportment displays what is within one. Therefore, in
searching for the Tao it is first necessary to study deportment.

Section II. Guarding Against Self-Pride and Extravagance

One may set out strongly determined to achieve Tao and study
deportment; but if one's actions, words, and thoughts are proud
and extravagant, one's mind becomes disturbed and deluded. How,
then, can one attain samadhi? Hence, this section deals with the
elimination of self-pride and extravagance.

Section III. The Purification of the Three Karmas - Thoughts,
Words, and Actions

The previous section sets forth fundamental instructions for
the pursuit of Tao. The third section illustrates the way in which
the three karmas may be pursued by proper discipline. It teaches
how to avoid physical and mental disturbances by self-examination.

Section IV. Samatha, or Tranquillity of Mind

After having mastered the teaching set forth in the previous
section, the next step is gradual self-cultivation through the discipline
of "The Five Stages of the Emergence of Thought"53 and
"The Six Procedures for Achieving Samatha."54 In this way one
achieves prajna, the great wisdom, through the practice of meditation.
This fourth section includes a hymn celebrating the achievement
of samatha.

Section V. Vipasyana, or Perfect Insight

Without discipline, there is no Ch'an. And without Ch'an,
there can be no enlightenment. The cultivation of samadhi has already
been discussed in section II. When samadhi, or concentration,
reaches the innermost depths, prajna, or wisdom, is attained.
The fifth section is a hymn of vipasyana.

Section VI. A Hymn of Upeksa, or Equilibrium

When concentration alone is stressed, the mind stagnates.
When wisdom alone is stressed, the mind becomes overactive.
Therefore, the sixth section is a hymn to equilibrium, which il-
lustrates the proper identification of samadhi with prajna. A perfect
balance between samadhi and prajna must be attained so that one's
mind may be free from the two extremes of stagnation and overactivity.

Section VII. The Gradual Attainment of the Three Vehicles

When samadhi and prajna are identified within tranquillity, illumination
constantly takes place. When the Threefold Contemplation
is identified as one, confusion is transformed into perfect illumination.
Although one achieves self-realization at this point,
one's sense of compassion for others has not necessarily been
awakened, for there are different depths of awakening. This seventh
section deals with the gradual attainment of the Three Vehicles.55

Section VIII. The Identification of Events and Reality

In searching through the Three Vehicles, one may at last experience
the Ultimate Reality. There is no reality that cannot be
pursued. The pursuit of the Ultimate Reality must be based upon
the particular event. When the event is thoroughly perceived, its
ultimate reality has been realized. Therefore, the eighth section
teaches that events and their ultimate reality are identical. It is
through a thorough understanding of this truth that one frees oneself
of wrong views.

Section IX. A Letter to a Friend

When events and Ultimate Reality interfuse, the mind becomes
transparent. One sympathizes with one's friend, who has not
yet achieved enlightenment but has wasted time in a vain search.
Therefore, the ninth section contains a letter of advice.

Section X. The Vow To Save All Beings

Offering advice to one's friends demonstrates compassion for
others, but this compassion is still limited to a few individuals and
is not widely diffused enough. Thus, the tenth section concerns the
vow to save all beings.

The following are the ten steps of contemplation:
The first is to discuss "suchness"; the second is to reveal the
substance of contemplation; the third is to talk about mutual
identification; the fourth is to warn against the danger of selfconceit;
the fifth is to prohibit indolence; the sixth is to reveal once
more the substance of contemplation; the seventh is to clarify the
relationship between negation and affirmation; the eighth is to
clarify the meaning of contemplation; the ninth is to reveal contemplation
in whatever one says; the tenth is to identify the mystic
The first way is to discuss "suchness." Mind and nature invisibly
penetrate one into the other. The source of motion and
that of motionlessness are the same. Bhutatathata, or reality, is free
from thoughts and yet it is no different from the calculating mind.
Illusory thoughts come forth in disorder; yet when we trace them
back to their source, they are nothing but silence. Their spiritual
origin is formless, but our discrimination causes a thousand manifestations
to occur. These thousand manifestations vary from each
other, and when we perceive their differences, we have the dharma-eye.
56 Silence never varies, and when we see this, we have the
wisdom-eye.57 When we have freed ourselves from both non-differentiated
reality and differentiated materiality, we have attained
the vision of the Buddha-eye.58 Therefore, the three truths59 are
identified as one; thus the ultimate reality of being is absolutely
pure. The three aspects of wisdom are the simultaneous revelations
of one mind; the light of prajna is eternally illuminating. At
the moment when objective conditions and subjective wisdom are
silently identified, liberation takes place in all conditions.60 The
symbol yi is neither vertical nor horizontal. It indicates that the
perfect Tao is grasped only through silent identification. Therefore,
the nature of the three virtues61 apparently cannot be differentiated.
A mind which is deep and boundless has neither doubts nor
thoughts. This is the essence of the Tao, yet it is not the way to
approach it. To see that the mind is the Tao is to follow the stream
and reach the source.
The second way reveals the object of contemplation, wherein
one realizes that One Thought is both void and no-void, yet neither
void nor no-void.
The third way speaks of mutual identification. When mind and
void are identified, there is neither anxiety nor delight, even after
one has been criticized or praised. "When body and void are identified
there is neither suffering nor joy, whether one is treated with
cruelty or with kindness. "When material things62 are identified
with the void, where is the loss or gain, bestowed or taken away?
"When one's mind identifies void and no-void, one is free from
the ties of love that come from thinking of others. By showing
compassion to all, one saves others from their suffering. "When the
body is identified with void and no-void, the inner quiescence is
similar to that of lifeless wood, while the outer appearance inspires
respect. "When one identifies material things with void and no-void,
one is eternally free from craving, yet one has enough to be
able to help others. "When one identifies the mind as either void
or no-void, both not void and not no-void, then one begins to understand
the meaning of Reality and gains the vision that Buddha
had. When the body is identified with either void or no-void, both
not void and not no-void, then one's thought becomes purified,
and one enters samadhi. When one identifies material things with
both void and no-void, both not void and not no-void, then the Hall
of Buddha63 becomes the Pure Land for the transformation of
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
The fourth way warns of the danger of self-conceit, which, if
not overcome, jeopardizes all identification.
The fifth way prohibits indolence. In crossing the sea, one depends
entirely upon a boat, without which one cannot cross over.
This is also true of cultivation of the mind. It depends entirely
upon contemplation. Without contemplation the mind cannot be
illuminated. If the mind is not illuminated, mutual identification
cannot be expected to take place. One should carefully consider
the obstacles that self-indulgence creates.
The sixth way reveals the object of contemplation again. One
now understands that One Thought is void and no-void, not being
and not non-being, but does not yet realize that whenever a thought
occurs it is immediately void and no-void, not non-being and not
The seventh way explains why one should understand the rela-
tionship between affirmation and negation. Mind is neither being
nor non-being, and simultaneously it is neither not being nor not
non-being. When mind is either being or non-being, it falls into
the trap of affirmation. When it is neither being nor non-being, it
falls into the trap of negation. Thus, it merely asserts that both
affirmation and negation are wrong, but it does not assert that both
non-affirmation and non-negation are right. Now to use both negations
[the negation of affirmation and the negation of negation] in
order to deny both affirmations [the affirmation of negation and
the affirmation of affirmation] is to say that when affirmation is
denied and becomes non-affirmation, it is still negation. Conversely,
if one uses both negations to deny both negations - that is, when
negation is denied and turned into negation of negation - the result
is affirmation. Thus, what we have is the assertion of the rightness
of non-affirmation and non-negation; but it is neither not negation
nor not non-negation, neither not affirmation nor not non-affirmation.
The subtlety of the relation between negation and affirmation
is refined and difficult to perceive. Let your spirit be pure and your
thoughts quiescent, and search for this subtlety carefully.
The eighth way is to clarify the meaning of interpretation. The
perfect truth is inexpressible, but through words its meaning is
revealed. Neither its meaning nor its source is identical with contemplation.
However, it is through contemplation that the source
is realized. If the true meaning is not revealed, it is because the
words have been poorly interpreted. If the source is not yet realized,
then the contemplation has not been deep enough. Through deep
contemplation, the source is realized; through adequate interpretation,
the meaning is revealed. When the meaning has been revealed
and the source realized, words and contemplation do not
necessarily remain.
The ninth way is to transmit the fruits of contemplation in
whatever one says, for it is through words that the object of one's
contemplation is revealed. Thus, source and meaning are seen to
be the same. When words express contemplation, the two become
fused. Then articulation and absolute reality are one. When
articulation and reality are one, the state of contemplation may be
revealed in words. When the state of contemplation is expressed
verbally, it is absolute reality. When absolute reality is no different
from this verbal expression, it is the source. The essence is one and
the same; only its names vary. Applying the terms "words" and
"contemplation" is a mere game.
The tenth way is to identify the mystic source. Those whose
minds have been awakened will never be trapped by contemplation,
and thus fail to grasp the meaning of words. Those who are
well versed in the doctrine of Buddhism will never be impeded by
words and thus fail to understand reality. When reality is understood,
the obstacle of words is broken, for what more can words
discuss? When meaning is revealed, the action of the mind is extinguished,
for what more can contemplation do? That which cannot
be contemplated and expressed by words is indeed the essence
of Tao.

On the seventeenth day of the tenth month in the second year
of the Hsien-t'ien period [ 713], the Master entered nirvana64 by sitting
quietly. On the thirteenth day of the eleventh month, his body
was enshrined in the pagoda to the south of Mount Hsi. His posthumous
name, bestowed on him by the Royal Court, was Great
Master of Formlessness. His pagoda was called Pure Illumination.
In the middle of the Shun-hua period [ 99D-994] of the Sung
Dynasty, the Emperor T'ai-tsung65 issued an imperial mandate to
Wên-chou to repair the shrine and the pagoda.


49. Wenchow, now Yung-chia (Yungkia) in Chekiang Province.
50. The sutras are collections of sermons, chiefly those given by the
Buddha. The sastras are Buddhist philosophical discourses. The vinayas are
works dealing with monastic discipline.
51. Ts'ao-ch'i, in northern Kwangtung Province, is where Hui-neng, the
Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an, founded his school.
52. The three thousand regulations govern the proper way of walking,
standing, sitting, and lying down. The eighty thousand detailed duties are
rules concerning the four awe-inspiring departments and many other aspects
of the monk's behavior.
53. The Five Stages of the Emergence of Thought:

1) The desires of the mundane world.
2) Discrimination of opposites arising from the thoughtless state.
3) Idle thoughts leading to more of the same.
4) Shameful thoughts upon realization that one's previous thoughts
have been idle.
5) Quietude where one is free from the thoughts of desire, of discrimination,
of idleness, and of shame.

54. The Six Procedures for Achieving Samatha:

1) Determining wherein lies your mistake:
In discriminating between good and evil.
In the mind's attachment to its own innocence.
2) Remedies for these mistakes:
Quietude is a remedy for discrimination.
Consciousness is a remedy for innocence.
3) Application of these remedies to their corresponding mistakes.
4) From excessive quietude, innocence arises.
5) Quietude without consciousness leads to innocence.
Consciousness without quietude leads to discrimination.
6) Consciousness supplemented by quietude leads to illumination,
in which the mind is free from both discrimination and attachment.

55. The Three Vehicles include: (1) Sravakayana, in which one understands
the truth through the teachings of Buddha; ( 2) Pratyekabuddhayana,
in which one understands the truth through self-awakening; and ( 3)
Bodhisattvayana, in which one understands the highest level of bodhi, or
56. The "dharma-eye" is the vision of the Bodhisattva, which perceives
the sufferings of the sentient beings. This vision penetrates to the truth of
actuality, through discrimination.
57. The "wisdom-eye" is the vision of the Sravaka and the Pratyekabuddha,
which perceives the inner reality of the self, that is, the formless
void, or sunyata.
58. The "Buddha-eye" is the vision of Buddha, which sees both the differentiations
of the external world and the undifferentiated void of the inner
self. This vision is omniscient because it embraces all kinds of vision including
the two above.
59. The three truths are the awareness of sunyata, the proper discrimination
of Bodhisattva, and the perfect wisdom of Buddha.
60. The symbol yi, which is neither vertical nor horizontal.
61. The three virtues are dharmakaya, prajna, and moksa (emancipation).
62. That is, material things such as countries, clothes, foods, etc., upon
which the personal existence depends.
63. Hsiang-t'ai, the hall where Buddha lived.
64. Originally, nirvana meant tranquil extinction. In this case, it means
liberation from existence, or death. Also, we have: "Nirvana in its ultimate
signification was an affirmation - an affirmation beyond opposites of all
kinds" (Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, I, p. 56).
65. T'ai-tsung's reign was 976-997.




Yung Chia 's Song of Enlightenment
Translated by Lu K'uan Yü [Charles Luk]
(Ch'an and Zen teaching, series three, Part II, Rider & Co, London 1962)

Ch'an Master Hsuan Chueh of Yung Chia joined the Sangha order when he was still young and began to study the T'ien T'ai (Japanese, Ten dai) teaching which he practiced with great success. Then he called on learned masters for instruction. After reading the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, he was awakened to the Buddha Dharma and his later study of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra enabled him to realize his mind. Since his major awakening had, not yet been confirmed by an enlightened master, he proceeded to Ts'ao Ch'I where he called on the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng who sealed the visitor's enlightenment after a short and very skillful probe related in the Altar Sutra. He was retained at the monastery for a night and was then known as “The Overnight Enlightened One.”

After his thorough understanding of the Buddha's expedient teaching in the sutras and his complete awakening to the Transmission outside the Scriptures, he wrote Yung Chia's Ch'an Collection (Yung Chia Ch'an Tsung Chi) and the Song of Enlightenment (Yung Chia Ta Shih Cheng Tao Ko) for the benefit of those practicing the Buddha Dharma. In one of his meditations, while entering the state of samadhi, he saw the golden words of his Song filling the whole of space. Since then, it became well known in all monasteries in China and was widely read all over the country. It was later translated into Sanskrit by an Indian master who took it to India for the benefit of his fellow countrymen.

Yung Chia was a successor to T'ien Kung, the seventh Patriarch of the T'ien T'ai School and was also a Dharma successor to Hui Neng, the Sixth Patriarch of the Ch'an Sect.

…The immortal Song of Enlightenment is now presented in this volume with full notes so that readers can comprehend it from end to end. Its beauty is incomparable and, its vigorous style and stirring appeal to indecisive and wavering devotees are reminiscent of “La Marseillaise” as the two famous songs of the East and of the West are both calls to the colors with different goals, the former for the salvation of all living beings and the latter for the defense of the fatherland.


1. Have you not seen a man of Tao [1] at his ease.
In his non-active [2] and beyond learning [3] states.
Who neither suppresses thoughts nor seets the real? To him.
The real nature of ignorance is Buddhata [4] .
And the non-existent body of illusion is Dharmakaya [5] .

2. After his awakening, his Dharma body owns not anything,
For each thing in essence comes from his true self-natured Buddha;
The five aggregates [6] are just floating clouds that aimlessly come and go,
While the three poisons [7] are but bubbles that appear and vanish.

3. When the real is attained, neither ego nor dharma exist.
And in a moment the avici [8] karma [9] is eradicated.
If knowingly I lie to deceive living beings, my tongue.
Will be pulled out for aeons uncountable as dust and sand [10] .

4. When at once awakened, the Tathagata's Ch'an is perfected in self-substance,
By any of the six paramitas [11] or myriad methods of salvation [12] .
When dreaming, clearly there are six worlds of existence,
When awake, not even the great chiliocosm [13] can be found.

5. There's neither weal nor woe and neither gain nor loss
Try not to find something in nirvanie nature [14] .
It is like a mirror never rubbed clean from covering dust.
Today all this must be ripped open and solved with decision.

6. Who is free from thoughts and birth? The uncreate can,
Be realized without destroying the created.
Ask a wooden puppet when it will retain
Buddhahood by self-cultivation?

7. Lay down the four elements, cling not to anything,
Keep on with food and drink within nirvanie nature.
To perceive that all phenomena are not lasting nor existent,
Is to realize the complete enlightenment of all Tathagatas.

8. I must speak with decision to set a true monk's example
To answer those who disagree and frankly ask me questions,
I go to the root according to the Buddha's sealing
As to the search for twigs it is beyond my competence.

9. The mani pearl [15] is unknown to men.
But is found in the Tathagatas store, [16]
All its six fold function, which neither “is” nor “is not”, derives.
From one perfect light that is neither with nor without form.

10. To purify five kinds of eyes [17] perfects the powers five [18] Only after
Personal experience can the inconceivable be understood.
‘Tis easy to perceive (one's) image in a mirror,
But who can grasp the moon (reflected) in the water?

11. It is always a lonely saunter, for one always goes alone
Only experienced men can be companions on nirvana's path.
By following old tradition, your spirits will be high.
But your wild mien and hardened bones will remain unnoticed.

12. A disciple of Buddha who is poor admits it.
Truly his body is poor but not his Tao.
His poverty is clear with his body wrapped in rags
His Tao means his mind which possesses a priceless gem.

13. It is a priceless gem for use without the least hesitation.
In looking after others or in response to ripening,
Potentialities. The three bodies [19] and four wisdoms [20] in their substance.
Are perfected. While the six powers [21] and eighth form of liberation [22]
Are sealed.

14. Superior men to one of them awakened are to all.
Medium and inferior men are mostly sceptical when they hear
(This Dharma) which destroys their dirty inner garments.
How can one then be boastful of zeal for external things?

15. Let them criticize and wrong you (if they like)
In trying to scorch heaven they but tire themselves.
When I hear them, it is to me (like drinking nectar, enabling
Me to enter in an instant (that state) which cannot be conceived.

16. Thus offensive words are blessings (in disguise)
And the speaker's my helpful friend. Without
This universal mind digesting slander and abuse, how can
The uncreate compassionate endurance manifest?

17. So by penetrating both the Transmission and (expedient) Teaching
Samadhi and wisdom are to perfection brought unhindered by the void [23] .
I am not the only man to have attained this stage
Which Buddhas countless as the sand have realized.

18. Speak without fear and like a lion roar [24] .
At the sound all beasts take fright and tremble,
As the fragrant elephant [25] strolls by losing its awe-inspiring air,
The heavenly dragon [26] in silence listens and is filled with joy.

19. In days gone by I crossed many hills and rivers in
My search for teachers and instruction in Ch'an practice,
But since I have known the path of Ts'ao and Ch'i [27] ,
I have realized it is past birth and death.

20. Stray not from Ch'an [28] whether you walk or sit, you will then be
At ease whether you speak or keep silent, move or stay still.
Serene when facing a sharp weapon.
Even poison will not worry you.

21. My teacher (Sakyamuni) only met Dipamkara
Buddha after. He had been a ksantyrsi [29] for many aeons.
How many births and many deaths have succeeded
One another without interruption?

22. Since my Instantaneous awakening to the law of the uncreat.
Vanished are my joy in glory and my sorrow in disgrace.
I would stay at some hermitage, deep in
The hills beneath the first on some high peak.
Carefree I would meditate in some wanderer's but
Enjoying with light heart the stillness of a tranquil life.

23. Once enlightened, that is all: no efforts are needed;
There is nothing common between this and the worldly way.
Alms [30] given with attachment earn rewards in heaven
It is like shooting an arrow high up in the air.

With force expended; a spent arrow's bound to fall and cause
Distasteful things to follow in the next incarnation.
How can it then compare with the wu wei reality.
Which ensures a leap straight to the Tathagata stage?

24. Get at the root, do not worry about the twigs.
It is like a crystal enclosing a bright moon.
Since you have understood this cintamani jewel
Use it for ever for your own and others welfare.
A bright moon in the stream, a breeze fanning the first,
Where's all the bustle in this pure and endless night?

25. After realizing the Buddha nature, the sila gem,
And sealing the mind-ground, fog, dew and clouds are garments now.
The dragon subduing bowl [31] and the staff that tigers separates [32]
With clear sounds from its two hangers of metal rings [33]
Are not the fabled relics of some groundless tales
But symbols of the Tathagata's precious mace.

26. Neither search for the real nor destruction of the false
(Are needed since) both in themselves are void and matterless.
That which is neither void nor matterless nor yet
Not voidis the Tathagata's true reality.

27. The mind mirror is bright, reflecting all without obstruction,
Its vast brightness pervades worlds uncountable as Ganges' sand.
The universe in its diverse variety appears
Inside one brightness which is neither within or without.

28. Grasp not the void, reject not the law of cause (and of effect)
Such confusion and recklessness bring trouble and misfortune.
Rejection of what is and grasping what is not are also wrong.
For both are like jumping into a fire to escape from drowning.

29. To reject falsehood while accepting the true principle is wrong
And artful because of the accepting and rejecting mind,
If a student does so in his training
He will mistake a thief for his own son.

30. Damage to Dharma wealth and destruction of spiritual merits
Are caused solely by the eighth, seventh, and sixth consciousnesses,
Into these, therefore, Ch'an followers are always looking to realize
Instantaneously the uncreate and win the Buddha's wisdom.

31. A virile man uses his wisdom-sword.
Whose point of prajna shines with vajra light [34]
It both destroys the heterodox mind
And scares away all heavenly demons.

32. Roll the Dharma thunder and beat the Dharma drum [35] ,
Spread clouds of compassion and rain nectar down [36] .
Dragons and elephants [37] come to help countless living beings
Arousing all of five natures in the three vehicles [38] .
Milk in the snow mountains [39] is pure and nourishing,
It makes the refined butter that I enjoy.

One nature pervades perfectly all others.
One Dharma embraces all other Dharmas,
One moon appears (reflected) in all waters
Wherein all moon from the One Moon derive.
The Dharmakayas of all Buddhas pervade
My nature which unites with all Tathagatas.

33. When this stage is completed, so are the others (realized) [40]
Being neither matter, mind, nor any act of karma.
Eighty thousand doors [41] are perfected in a finger snap
And three endless kalpas [42] are destroyed in a moment.
Figuring or expressing and not doing either
Have nothing in common with transcendental bodhi.

34. It cannot be praised or censured,
Its substance is like boundless space,
It is serene and always present,
You will fail if you search for it.
It can neither be grasped or dropped, only
When unobtainable can it be won.
Its silence preaches (yet) silent is the sermon,
Its dana opens wide the door (to enlightenment).

35. If asked about what doctrine I interpret,
I call it the strong Mahaprajna [43]
No man knows whether I am right or wrong.
No deva whether I agree or not.

36. Since in self-cultivation I have passed
Long aeons, I talk not loosely to deceive.
Hoist the Dharma banner, proclaim the object of our Sect,
Clearly this was the Buddha's command to Ts'ao Ch'i.

37. In Indian records Mahakasyapa was the first
To transmit the Lamp to Twenty-eight succeeding generations.
Moving east, the Dharma reached the Middle Kingdom.
Where Bodhidharma was the First Patriarch
It is well known that six generations inherited
The robe and countless were those who later realized the Tao.

38. If the real is not established, the false is void in essence,
If “is” and “is not” are eradicated [44] , so is the not void.
The teaching of twenty (types of) voidness means disentanglement (from “is”) [45]
Because in the one natured Tathagata all substance is the same.

39. Mind is a sense organ with things for its object,
Both are like the dust which settles on a mirror
Which becomes bright (quickly) when the dust is rubbed away.
Self-nature is realized when mind and Dharma vanish.

40. Alas, in this Dharma ending age and this evil world
Living beings of ill fortune are hard to discipline,
The holy period's long passed and perverted views are deep,
With demon strong and Dharma weak both hatred and harm prevail.
When they hear the Tathagata's Instantaneous Dharma Door
They hate not having swept. It like broken tiles.

41. While their minds so act their bodies will then suffer;
They cannot accuse or blame their fellow men
If you would avoid the retribution of continuous
Karma [46] speak no ill of the Tathagata's Right Dharma Wheel.

42. No other trees can grow in a sandal forest,
A lion lies usually in a thick bush and strolls
Alone at ease in quiet and familiar
Haunts from which all other beasts and birds have fled.

43. A lion cub, with all others lagging slow behind,
When it is three years old can give a frightening roar
A jackal, even followign after the Monarch of the Law,
Will vainly open its strange mouth after a hundred years.

44. The teaching of instantaneous perfection is beyond all worldly
Feelings: all doubt and indecisions should be examined and ironed out.
It is not because this monk is clinging to selfness and otherness
Practicers should beware of traps set by permanence and its opposite.

45. Neither right is right nor is wrong wrong the slightest
Deviation means a thousand miles away.
The believing Naga maiden attained the Buddha stage at once
While the unbelieving Sunaksatra was reborn in hell.

46. I amassed much learning in my youth, searching
Sutras and sastras and their commentaries.
Endlessly I discriminated between names and forms,
A task as vain as counting sandgrains on the ocean beds
I was severely reprimanded by the Buddha
Who asked what gain derived from counting others' gems.
I realized how futile were my dreary journeys
When I traveled without aim for so many years.

47. It is due to perverse nature and wrong interpretation that the
Tathagata's instantaneous perfection is not understood.
Hinayana men are zealous but neglect their Tao mind,
(While) the heterodox have no wisdom though intelligent.

In their ignorance and folly they interpret
Wrongly the pointing finger of the empty hand
Mistaking finger for moon they practice aimlessly the Teaching
And fabricate absurdities in the realm of sense and objects.

48. When not a single thing can, be perceived this is Tathagata
And only then can one be called a Sovereign Regarder.
When truly understood, all karmic obstructions in their essence
Exist not: when there's no realization, all debts must be paid.

49. It is like a hungry man who cannot attend the royal feast,
Or the sick refusing medicine prescribed by the physician king.
Ch'an practice is smost effective in this world of desires, because
A lotus blossom growing in a fire is indestructible.
Pradhanasura broke gave prohibitions and awoke to the uncreate.
There by long ago achieving his realization of the Buddha state.

50. (After) the fearless sermon, like a lion's roar, to be pitied
Are the stupid, the perverse, obstinate and wavering
Prone are they to break important precepts thereby impeding bodhi
(And) ignoring the Tathagata's disclosure of profound secrets.

51. There were two bhikkus, once committed carnalsin, the other kille. Both confessed
To Upali who “firely” knowledge exaggerated the retribution.
Mahasattva Vimalakirti wiped out the doubts of both
Like a hot sun that easily dissolves both frost and snow.

52. His power to free all living beings is inconceivable
And its functions are uncountable as the Ganges's river sand.
Who dare to refuse to offer (a monk's) four necessities.
To one who is entitled to ten thousand ounces of gold?
To have bone and body reduced to dust is still inadequate
Repayment for words ensuring a leap over countless aeons.

53. It is the unsurpassed King of all Dharma that has been
Experienced by Tathagatas countless as the sand.
I have interpreted correctly this cintamani stone,
Those who believe and who observe my words will unite with it.

54. To him who sees clearly that there is not a thing,
There is not a man and also not a Buddha.
Countless worlds in the great chiliocosm are only bubbbles
In the sea, (while) all saints and sages are but lighting flashes.

55. Even a hot wheel of iron turning one one's head
Cannot disperse perfect samadhi-prajna.
Though demons can cool the sun and heat the moon,
They can never hinder truthful speaking.

56. When a stately cart drawn by an elephant advances
Slowly, will a praying mantis try to bar its passage?
As a huge elephant steps not in a bare's track,
A great awakening cannot be circumscribed.
Rely not on your narrow views to abuse the infinite.
Since you are not yet clear (minded), this Song gives you the key.

[1] Tao: Road, way,path, truth, self-nature, the transcendental.

[2] Wu wei: Asamskrta, anything not subject to cause, condition or dependence; out of time, eternal, inactive, transcendental. Here it means a state that is passionless and non-active.

[3] Asaiksa: No longer learning, beyond study, the state of arhatship, the fourth of the sravaka stages, the preceding three requiring study. When a man is free from all illusions, he has nothing more study. Here asaiksa means a state beyond all study.

[4] Buddhata: The Buddha nature inherent in all living beings.

[5] Dharmakaya: The essential body of the Buddha which is perceptible to Buddhas only.

[6] Pancaskandha: The five aggregates: form, feeling, ideation, reaction and consciousness.

[7] The three poisons: Desire or concupiscence, anger or resentment and stupidity.

[8] Avici: The last and deepest of the eight hells, where sinners suffer, die and are instantly reborn to suffer without interuption.

[9] Karma: moral action causing future retribution and either good or evil transmigration.

[10] This is another hell where the tongue of a sinner is pulled out as punishment for verbal sins.

[11] The six paramitas are the six methods of attaining enlightenment: dana (charity), sila (discipline), ksanti (patient endurance), virya (zeal and progress), dhyana (meditation), and prajna (wisdom).

[12] The Bodhisattas's myrial modes of salvation.

[13] A great chiliocosm: tri-sahasra-maha-sahasra-loka-dhatu in Sanskrit. Mount Sumeru and rings of iron mountains form one small world: 1,000 of these form a small chiliocosm: 1,000 of these form a great chiliocosm, which consists of 1,000,000,000 small worlds.

[14] Nirvanic: is an adjective, derived from the Sanskrit word Nirvana which means cessation of reincarnation for entry into eternal bliss.

[15] The mani pearl, cintamani, is a fabulous pearl of the devas, capable of responding to every wish.

[16] Tathagata store, Tathagatagarbha, is the absolute in the mist of the delusion of passions and desires.

[17] The five kinds of eyes are (a) the human eye which should be free from delusion , (b) the deva eye or divine sight with unlimited vision, (c) the eye of wisdom which sees all things as unreal, (d) the Dharma eyes which penetrate all things to see the truth that releases from reincarnation and (e) the Buddha eye, the enlightened eye that sees all and is omniscent.

[18] The five powers, pancabalani, are faith (destroying doubts), zeal (destroying remissness), right thought (destroying falsity), samadhi (destroying wandering mind) and wisdom (destroying illusions).

[19] The three bodies of Buddha (Trikaya) are Dharmakaya, or essential body, perceptible only to Buddhas; sambhogakaya, or reward-body, perceptible only to Bodhisattvas; and nirmanakaya, or transformation body perceptible to men and devas.

[20] The four wisdoms of a Buddha are: the great mirror wisdom, the wisdom of equality, the profound observing wisdom and the perfecting wisdom. The first five consciousnesses are transmuted into the perfecting wisdom, the sixth consciousness into the profound observing wisdom, the seventh consciousness into the wisdom of equality and the eighth consciousness into the great mirror wisdom.

[21] The six supernatural powers (sadabhijna) are Divyacakus, deva eye or divine sight, unlimited vision; divyasrota, deva ear or divine hearing; paracittajnana, knowledge of the minds of all other living beings; purvanivasanusmrtijnana, knowledge of all forms of previous existence of self and others; rildhipada, power to appear at will in any place and to have absolute freedom, and asravaksayajnana, insight into the ending of the stream of birth and death.

[22] The eight forms of liberation (asta-vimoksa) are eight stages of meditation leading to deliverance: (1) deliverance, when there is attachment to form (rupa) by examination of form and realization of its filthiness; (2) deliverance, when there is no attachment to form, by examination of form and realization of its filthiness. These two are deliverance by meditation on impurity; (3) deliverance by meditation on the pure and realization of a state free from desire; (4) deliverance in realization of boundless immateriality; (5) deliverance in realization of boundless knowledge, (6) deliverance in realization of nothingness, (7) deliverance in the state wherein there is neither thought nor absence of thought; (8) deliverance in the state wherein the two aggregate feeling (vedana and ideation) (sanjna) are entirely eliminated.

[23] This is relative voidness experienced when all illusions have been wiped out and is the last obstacle before absolute voidness appears. Many meditators think they have reached their goal which is till relative nirvana: Here the so-called Mahayana and Hinayana controversy (Which does not exist in the Far East) begins. While they claim that they have attained enlightenment and write poems and gathas praising their final achievement , their enlightened master urge them to wipe out this false illusion. This is called sitting on top of a hundred foot pole from which one should take a step forward to release the last hold and leap over this shore of suffering to reach the other shore of bliss.

[24] Lion's roar (simhanada): a term designating authoritative and fearless preaching. As it makes all animals tremble and subdues even elephants, it stands for the Buddha's preaching which subdues demons and heretics by proclaiming the truth.

[25] The fragrant elephant (gandhahasti) stands for one who follows the gradual method of expedient teaching.

[26] The heavenly dragon stands for one who follows the method of instantaneous enlightenment of the Transmission of Mind.

[27] The path of Ts'ao Chi is the Dharma of the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng who confirmed Yung Chia's enlightenment. (See “The Altar Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch”)

[28] Chan stands for the mind.

[29] A ksantyrsi was an immortal who trained in patient endurance, i.e. the Buddha who in a former life patiently suffered insult to convert Kaliraja.

[30] Dana: charity, almsgiving i.e. of money, goods or doctrine

[31] A reference to the Sixth Patriarch who caught a dragon with bowl and subdued it. See Fa Hai's Preface to “The Altar Sutra”.

[32] An ancient Ch'an master was sitting in meditation when he saw two tigers fighting each other; he separated them with his staff and they ran away in opposite direcitons. Hence the “fighting tigers separating staff”.

[33] The two hangers symbolize the worldly way and the holy Path, each has three metal rings, or six in all which stand for the six perfections (paramita).

[34] “Prajna” is wisdom and “vajra” is the thunderbolt; wisdom is like the thunderbolt that destroys ignorance.

[35] “The rolling of the Dharma thunder” is a Buddhist term meaning the spreading of the teaching for the liberation of all living beings. “The beating of the Dharma drums” is also a Buddhist term meaning the convocation of living beings for their conversion and liberation.

[36] “The spreading of the clouds of compassion” is a Buddhist term meaning the compassion which causes the preaching of Dharma to cover and protect all living beings.

[37] “Dragons” stand for Bodhisattvas of the highest spirituality who are capable of instantaneous enlightenment and “elephants” for Bodhisattvas whose spirituality is good for gradual enlightenment.

[38] The three vehicles which carry living beings across the sea of mortality to the “other shore” of liberation are those conveying sravakas, pratyekabuddhas and Boddhisattvas. The five natures are those of the worldly, Hinayana, Boddhisattvas, uncertain and heterodox potentialities are defined in the Sutra of Complete, Enlightenment.

[39] The snowy mountains are the Himalayas which were so called in China in ancient times.

[40] The ten stages of progressive development of a Bodhisattva into a Buddha.

[41] 80,000 is an abbreviation for 84,000. The digit 8 and 4 stand for the 8 th consciousness and the 4 elements. Both 8 and 4 symbolize space and the following 000 stand for time. Since there are so many klesas, the Buddha taught as many Dharma doors to enlightenment to deliver all living beings.

[42] Kalpa: the period of time between the creation, destruction, and recreation of a world or universe; aeons. “Three kalpas” stand for the past, present and future.

[43] Mahaprajna: great wisdom.

[44] Existence and non-existence which are a dualism.

[45] To wipe out the twenty kinds of atachment to existence, the Buddha to teach His, disciples, set up twenty kinds of voidness or non-existence of things.

[46] The Karma that causes our eventual rebirth in the avici hell, the last and deepest of the eight hells where sinners suffer, die and are instantly reborn to suffer without interruption.



The Song of Experiencing the Tao
Translated by Robert Payne
In: “The White Pony: An Anthology of Chinese Poetry” edited by Robert Payne, 1947
Payne compared his rendering with a prior translation by Walther Liebenthal, published in Monumenta Serica, VI, 1941.

"Yung-Chia's Song of Experiencing the Tao," translated by Waiter Liebenthal, in Monumenta Serica, VI (1941), 1-39.
Professor Liebenthal has given here, in addition to the translation of the text, a scholarly introduction, in which he discusses the authorship, the author, and the text; Appendix I and II, in which he lists textual variants; and Appendix III, in which he translates pertinent biographical material from the Sung kao-seng chuan (Japanese, So koso den), Taisho No. 2061 (Vol. L, pp. 709-900) and the Ching-te ch'uan-teng lu 景德傳燈錄 (Japanese, Keitoku dento roku), Taisho No. 2076 (Vol. LI, pp. 196-467). Perhaps the Zennist will not always agree with the author's translation of terms or with his highly personal interpretation of the text. 


The roar of the lion is the fearless man speaking:
When the beasts hear it, their skulls crack open.
Hearing it, stampeding elephants lose their majestic powers.
Only the gods and dragons rejoice when it is heard in meditation.


He meditates when walking and when sitting.
Silent, speaking, moving, resting, his body is at peace.
In the face of pointed swords he remains eternally calm.
Many Kalpas ago our Master met Dipamkara, (1)
But already he was the “patient sufferer.” (2)


Purify the five eyes, possess the five powers.
If once you have known truth, you know the unknown.
In a mirror the body’s shape is easily discerned,
But in vain can you grasp the moon on the water.


They walk alone, and they are together –
Along the road to Nirvana, the Perfect Ones
With antique minds, pure-hearted, high-spirited,
With sunken cheekbones, despised by the common people.


Wander the streams and oceans, cross mountains and rivers,
Search for the Way, call upon masters, desire to enter the Tao.
No sooner have you come to Ts’ao-hsi, (3)
You will know that neither birth nor death has any meaning.


The moon shines on the river, pines sigh in the wind.
What happens in the quietness of eternal night?
My heart is confirmed in its pure Buddhahood.
My body is clothed in dust, dew, clouds and sunset.


An alms bowl subdues a dragon, a stick defeats tigers.
The two sets of gold rings sound ling-ling.
The priest does not carry his stick to no purpose.
It is the stick of the Tathagata, (4) a holy relic.


In the forest of sandalwood, only the trees grow.
The lion runs wild in these thickets.
In the silence of the forests none dares oppose him.
The birds fly away, the animals run from him.


The baby lion was ahead of the common herd.
When three years old, he roared tremendously.
Though the jackals compete with the King of the Law (5)
And shout for a hundred years, they exist to no purpose.


Let them slander me: I remain unmoved.
Who tries to burn the sky only wearies himself.
I drink the words of the slanderer as though they were dew.
They purge me; suddenly I enter the Ineffable.

If you find any virtue in evil words,
Then the slanderer becomes your spiritual guide.
Let neither offense nor slander provoke hatred in you.
How otherwise can the power of divine endurance be beheld?


1. One of the Buddhas of the Past.
2. The story of the “patient sufferer” is told in the Diamond Sutra.
3. 漕溪, Caoxi. The town where the temple of the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng, was located.
4. I.e. the Buddha.
5. 法王, King of the Law, or Dharma.




Jóka Daisi: Sódóka
Az azonnali felébredés éneke

Fordította: Yvon Mjóken Bec és Boros Dókó László

Barátom, nem látod?
Az Út nyugodt emberét, aki már nem tanul és nem cselekszik,
Nem utasítja el az illúziókat, s már az igazságot sem keresi.

Tudatlanságunk igazi természete a buddha-természet,
Üres és illuzórikus testünk a törvénytest.

Amikor tudatára ébredünk a törvénytestnek, már semmi sincsen.
Eredeti forrásunk természete a tiszta buddha.

Az öt szkandha? Felhők szállnak itt-ott, céltalanul,
A három méreg? Buborékok tűnnek fel és el, üresek.

Amikor meglátjuk az igazi valóságot, már nincs se ember, se Törvény,
Az avícsi karma azonnal megsemmisül.
Ha hazudok, hogy becsapjalak,
Kitépett nyelvvel szenvedjek örökre.

Hirtelen, amikor megértjük Buddha zenjét,
A hat tökéletesség és a tízezer gyakorlás tökéletesen beteljesül testünkben.

Az álomban a hatféle ösvény világosan látszik,
A felébredés után minden üres, még a világegyetem sem létezik.

Nincs sem boldogtalanság sem boldogság, sem veszteség sem haszon,
A kioltás nyugalmában ne keress semmit.

Mostanáig gyűlt a tükrön a por,
Itt az idő, hogy visszakapja csillogását.

Ki a gondolkodás-nélküli? Ki a születésnélküli?
Aki igazán születésnélküli, annak a születésnélküliség sem létezik.

Kérdezd meg egy fabábutól,
Mikor válunk buddhává az érdemek gyűjtésével!

Hagyd el a négy elemet, ne ragadj meg semmit,
A kioltás nyugalmában egyél és igyál kedved szerint.
Minden jelenség állandótlan, minden üres,
Ilyen Buddha nagyszerű és tökéletes felébredése.

Határozott beszédéről lehet felismerni az igaz szerzetest,
Aki nem hisz neki, győződjön meg róla maga.

Elvágni rögtön a gyökérnél, ez a buddha pecsétje,
Mire jó a fa lombját letépni, s ágait kutatni?

Az ember nem tud a varázslatos mani gyöngyről,
Amely buddha-természete mélyén rejtőzik.

Hat érzékünk csodálatos képességei üresek és nem-üresek,
A gyöngy tökéletes fénye formanélküli forma.

Az ötféle látást megtisztítva elnyered az ötféle hatalmat,
Aki megvalósította a felébredést, ismeri a felfoghatatlant.

A formát nem nehéz meglátni a tükörben,
De ki képes megérinteni a hold képét a víz színén?
Mindig egyedül mennek, mindig egyedül járnak,
A beteljesedettek együtt haladnak a nirvána ösvényén.

Hangjuk régies, tudatuk tiszta, természetesen nemes,
Arcuk sovány, arccsontjaik kiállnak, észrevétlenek.
Azt mondják a Sákják fiai szegények,
Valójában testük szegény, de az út amit követnek nem az.
Szegények, mert durva rongyokat viselnek,
Gazdagok, mert szívük páratlan kinccsel tele.
Felbecsülhetetlen kincsestár, mely ki nem merül soha,
Amit bőkezűen osztanak mindenkinek, szüksége szerint.

A három test és a négy tudás tökéletesen megvalósul testükben,
A nyolc megszabadulás és a hat természetfölötti képesség szívükbe van vésve.

A felsőbbrendű tudat egy csapásra elhatározza magát és mindent megért,
A közepes vagy alsóbbrendű tudat sokat tanul és sokat kételkedik.

Szabadítsd meg tudatod szutykos ruháitól,
De mások előtt ne büszkélkedj buzgalmaddal.

Fogadd el a rágalmat és a kritikát,
Aki az eget akarja felgyújtani, hiába fárad.
Mint édes nektárt iszom szavukat,
Összeolvadnak bennem és azonnal belépek a felfoghatatlanba.

Gondolkozz el a rossz szavakon, hogy erényt kovácsolj belőlük,
Vezetni fognak a jó útján.
Ha a rágalom haragot vált ki belőled,
Hogyan tud akkor megmutatkozni a születésnélküli együttérzésének és türelmének ereje?

Tökéletesen megérteni az elvet, és tökéletesen átadni,
Amikor koncentráció és bölcsesség tökéletes összhangban vannak, nem az ürességben vesztegelünk.

De nem én vagyok az egyetlen, aki megértette,
Az összes buddha, számtalanok, mint homokszemek a Gangeszben, olyanok mint én.
Az oroszlán bömböli a félelem nélküli tant,
Betöri az állatok fejét, akik hallják.
Menekvés közben az elefánt elveszti méltóságát,
Csak a sárkány hallgatja csendben, elragadtatva.

Folyamokon és óceánokon gázoltam keresztül, mentem hegyeken s folyókon át,
Az Utat keresve faggattam a mestereket, gyakoroltam a zent.
Mióta megtaláltam a szókei utat,
Tudom, hogy születés és halál nem különböznek.

A járás zen, az ülés zen,
Akár beszél, hallgat, mozog, pihen, a test békében van.
Kardpengével szembenézve a tudat nyugodt,
Méreggel szemben érzéketlen marad.

Mesterem találkozott Nentó buddhával,
Sok kalpán át ő volt Ninniku aszkéta.

Hányszor születtem? Hányszor haltam meg?
Születés és halál jönnek és mennek szüntelenül.

Amikor hirtelen megértjük a születésnélkülit,
Nem örülünk a dicséretnek és nem bánkódunk a szidalom miatt.

Visszavonultan a hegyek mélyén, remeteségben élek,
Egy szakadék fölé hajló meredek hegycsúcs nagy fenyője alatt.
Békésen ülve, boldogan, mezei remetelakomban,
Hol derűs magány és nyugodt egyszerűség uralkodik.

Amikor felébredünk, megértjük, hogy érdemek nem léteznek,
Minden más mint a függőség világában.

Az egoista adás, amit azért teszel, hogy boldogan az égben születhess,
Levegőbe lőtt nyílvessző.

Ereje fogytán visszahull a földre,
S azzal fenyeget, hogy a következő születés nem lesz kívánatos.

Hogyan lehetne ezt összehasonlítani a függésnélküli valóság kapujával,
Amelyen át egyetlen ugrással Buddha földjére jutunk.

Ragadd meg a gyökeret, ne bajlódj az ágakkal,
Ahogyan a holdfény behatol az átlátszó drágakőbe.

Most már értem, hogy a gyöngyszem, amely teljesíti a vágyakat,
Kimeríthetetlen kincsestár magunk és mások számára.
A hold ragyog a folyó fölött, a szél fúj a fenyők között,
Hosszú éj tiszta alkonya, miért?

A buddha-természet, az előírások drágaköve lelkünk mélyébe van vésve,
Testünket szitáló eső, harmat, köd és felhők takarják.

A csésze legyőzte a sárkányokat, s a bot szétválasztotta a tigriseket,
A két fémgyűrű csengve, tisztán szól.
Nemhiába hordjuk ezeket a tárgyakat,
Buddha botjának jelképei ezek, akinek nyomát hűen követjük.

Ne keresd az igazságot, ne utasítsd el az illúziókat,
Értsd meg, hogy mind a kettő üres és tulajdonság nélküli.

A tulajdonságok hiánya se nem üres, se nem nem-üres,
Ez Buddha igazi valósága.
A tudat fénylő tükre akadály nélkül ragyog,
Hatalmas fénye behatol a számtalan világba,

Jelenségek miriádjai tükröződnek benne,
Tökéletes fényű gyöngyszem, kint és bent nem létezik.
A hirtelen feltáruló üresség eltünteti az ok-okozati kapcsolatokat,
Ami balszerencsét vonzva zűrzavart és káoszt kelt.
Elvetni a létezőt, s az ürességhez ragaszkodni: ez is betegség,
Akár tűzbe ugrani a vízbefúlás elől.
Elhagyni az illúziókat, hogy megragadd az igazságot,
Megkülönböztető tudatra vall, mely hibás döntésekhez vezet.
A tanítvány, aki ezt nem ismeri fel, s e szellemben gyakorol,
Olyan, mint ki a tolvajt saját fiával téveszti össze.

Elpazaroljuk a Törvény kincseit és megsemmisítjük érdemeinket,
Ha a megkülönböztető gondolkodáshoz folyamodunk.
A zen tanítvány ezért ezt elveti,
Hogy a tudás és látás hatalmával hirtelen belépjen a születésnélkülibe.

A nagy ember megragadja a bölcsesség kardját,
Melynek hegye a pradnyá, s gyémántként lángol.

Nemcsak hogy szétzúzza az eretnek tudatot,
Visszaveri Mára támadásait.
Mennydörgi a Törvényt, s a dobot pergeti,
Növeli az együttérzés felhőjét, és ambróziaesőt permetez.
Sárkányok és elefántok ugrándoznak, végtelen áldását terjesztve,
A három jármű és az öt család minden lényét felébresztve.
A hini fű a havas hegyen nem keveredik mással,
Dús és tiszta vajat ad, engem csak ez táplál.

Egyetlen természet tökéletesen behatol minden természetbe,
Egyetlen jelenség magába foglal minden jelenséget.
Egyetlen hold minden víztükörben megjelenik,
Minden tükörkép ugyanabból az egy holdból való.

Minden buddha törvényteste behatol az én természetembe,
Természetem Buddhával azonos.
Amikor egy fokozatot elérsz, mindet elérted,
Nincs sem forma, sem tudat, sem gyakorlás.

Egy csettintés, és nyolcvannégyezer tanítás beteljesül,
A három nagy kalpa egy pillanat alatt lejár.

A számok és szavak se nem számok és nem szavak,
Mi közük csodálatos felébredésünkhöz?
Sem szidni, sem dicsérni nem kell,
Teste üres, mint a határtalan tér.

Mindig itt van, átlátszó és nyugodt,
Ha keresed, barátom, nem látod meg.
Sem megragadni, sem eldobni nem lehet,
Csak a megfoghatatlan közepén lehet megragadni.
Amikor a beszéd csend, és a csend beszéd,
Az adás nagy kapuja akadálytalanul kitárul.

Ha megkérdik tőlem, mi az alapelvem,
Azt felelem: a nagy bölcsesség hatalma.

Mi a jó és mi a rossz? Senki sem tudja,
Haladás vagy visszalépés? Még az ég sem tudja felmérni.

Ősidők óta gyakorlok, és sok kalpán keresztül,
Nem könnyelműen beszélek, és nem is azért, hogy becsapjalak.
Hogy felhúzza a Törvény zászlaját, s iskolánk tanítását megalapozza,
A tisztánlátó Buddha a szókei szerzetest jelölte ki.
Kásjapa volt az első, aki továbbadta a lámpást,
Átadási vonala huszonnyolc pátriárkát számlál Indiában.
Folyókon és tengereken átkelve elérte földünket,
Hol Bódhidharma volt az első pátriárka.
Tudjuk, hogy hat generáció adta tovább a köntöst,
S számtalanok követőik, kik elérték a felébredést.

Az igazságnak nincs alapja, s az illúziók eredendően üresek,
Egyszerre száműzvén létezőt s nem-létezőt, a nem-üres is üres.

Az üresség húsz kapuja ragaszkodás nélküli,
A buddha-természet egyedülálló, és a test ugyanúgy.

A tudat a gyökér, a jelenségek a por,
Egyik is, másik is beszennyezi a tükröt.
Töröld le a szennyeződéseket, s ragyogni fog, mint a kezdetén.
Mikor a tudat tevékenysége megszűnik, s a jelenségek eltűnnek,
Az igazi valóság megjelenik.
Ó, a Törvény hanyatlik, a rossz uralkodik manapság,
Az emberek nem boldogok, és nehéz kormányozni őket.
Minél távolabb kerülnek a régi bölcsek, annál mélyebb az eretnekség,
Erősek a démonok és gyenge a Törvény, pusztít a gyűlölet.
Amikor meghallják Buddha tanát az azonnali felébredésről,
Sajnálják, hogy nem törhetik apró darabokra, mint egy cserepet.

A tettek a tudatból jönnek, a szenvedés a testből,
Ne panaszkodj, ne vádolj senki mást.

Ha nem akarod magadra hívni a szakadatlan szenvedés karmáját,
Ne káromold Buddha tanítását az igaz Törvényről.

A szantálerdőben nem nő másféle fa,
Sűrűjét az oroszlán lakja.

Egyedül kóborol az erdő csendjében és nyugalmában,
Minden állat elszaladt vagy elrepült, mind rejtőzködik.
Kölykei csapatban követik,
Háromévesen üvöltésük már erős.
Még ha a sakálok üldöznék is a Törvény királyát,
Százezer ilyen szörny is hiába ugat.

Az azonnali és tökéletes felébredés tanában nincsenek vonzalmak,
Ha még mindig vannak kérdéseid, amikre nem tudod a választ, beszéljünk róla azonnal.

Nekem, az alázatos hegyi szerzetesnek, nincs saját véleményem,
Nehogy gyakorlásom a nihilizmus, vagy az eternalizmus csapdájába essen.

Jó és rossz se nem jó se nem rossz,
De egy hajszálnyi hiba ezer mérföldnyire eltérít.
Az igazban buddhává válunk, mint a nágák királyának lánya,
A tévedésben a pokolba zuhanunk, mint Zensó.

Hosszú évek óta halmoztam a tudást,
Tanulmányoztam a kommentárokat, faggattam a szútrákat.
Lankadatlanul kutattam a szavakat és jeleket,
Fölöslegesen fáradtam a homokszemeket számlálva a tengerek fenekén.
Buddha komoly szemrehányásokat tett,
Mire jó mások kincseit számlálgatni?

Zsákutcába jutottam, és rájöttem, hogy hiába fáradtam,
Annyi elvesztegetett éven át kóborolva a világ porában, semmiért!
Ha a szellemi irány elferdül, a tudás és a megértés hibás,
Nem tudod elérni Buddha tökéletes felébredését.

A két járműben van energia, de hiányzik az Út szelleme,
Az eretnekek intelligensek, de nincs bennük bölcsesség.

Ostoba az, vagy naiv,
Akit megtéveszt egy mutatóujj,
Vagy elhiszi, hogy van valami az üres ökölben.

Összetéveszti az ujjat a holddal, és hiába igyekszik,
Összekeveri az érzékeket tárgyukkal, és furcsa agyrémeket talál ki.
Aki egyetlen jelenséget sem lát, azonos Buddhával,
Nemhiába hívják úgy: tökéletes szabadság.

Amikor megértettük, látjuk, hogy a tettek bilincsei természetüknél fogva üresek,
Ha még nem értjük, vissza kell fizetnünk adósságainkat.

Éhesek, de nem esznek, pedig királyi lakomát kínálunk neki,
Betegek, az orvosok királyáhához mennek, de nem kezelik magukat.

A bölcsesség és a látás hatalma lehetővé teszi, hogy a vágyak világában gyakoroljuk a zent,
A tűzben születő lótusz elpusztíthatatlan.
Miután súlyosan vétett, Jusze megvalósította a születésnélkülit,
Azonnal buddhává vált, és azóta is az.

Az oroszlán a félelem nélküli tant bömböli,
Ó, milyen kár, hogy az emberek tudata oly zavaros és korlátolt!

Csak annyit értenek, hogy a súlyos hibák akadályozzák a felébredést,
És képtelenek Buddha titkába behatolni.

Két szerzetes megszegte a bujálkodás és az ölés tilalmát,
Upáli tudásának szentjánosbogárnyi fényében bűnüket csak még súlyosabbnak látták.
A nagy Vímálakirti egy csapásra eloszlatta aggodalmaikat,
Ahogy a zúzmara és a hó elolvad a nap tűző fényében.
A megszabadulás hatalma felfoghatatlan,
Csodálatos működései számtalanok, mint a Gangesz homokszemei.
Hogyan is mernénk megtagadni tőle a négyféle adományt?
Amikor tízezer aranypénz sem lenne elég.

Ha porrátörjük csontjainkat vagy testünket darabokra vágjuk, az sem elég, hogy visszafizessük,
Tízmilliárd szónál is többet ér egy, ha jól megérted.

Minden létező királya, semmi sem múlja felül,
Minden Buddha, számtalanok, mint homokszemek a Gangeszben, igazolják őt.
Most már értem, hogy mi a mágikus gyöngy,
Mely mindenkinek válaszol, aki bizalommal fogadja.
Világosan látjuk, hogy semmi sem létezik,
Sem ember, sem Buddha.
A világok miriádjai buborékok az óceánban,
A bölcsek és szentek villámló fények az égen.

Még ha vaskerék forogna is fejünk fölött,
A koncentráció és a bölcsesség tökéletes fénye nem tűnik el.
Hűljön ki a nap, újra melegedjen fel a hold,
Mára seregei akkor sem tudják elpusztítani az igaz tanítást.
A magas kocsi amit az elefánt húz, nyugodtan halad,
Hogyan is tudná egy imádkozó sáska megállítani a kerekét?
A nemes elefánt nem jár a nyulak ösvényén,
A nagy felébredés nem vesződik semmiségeken.
Ne ócsárold az eget, amit egy szalmaszálon át nézel,
Amit még nem értesz, barátom, azt tisztázom most neked.