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The Buddha's essential functioning

By Hung-chih Cheng-chueh [T'ien-t'ung Hung-chih ]

Notes: A poem by Tendo Wanshi Zenji, written approx. 1140, translated by Taizan Maezumi, Roshi and Neal Donner. One hundred years later it was followed by a similarly structured and worded poem by Eihei Dogen. [Click Here to read Dogen's poem].


The Buddha's essential functioning,

the patriarch's functioning essence,

Knows without relating to things

and illuminates without reflecting upon objects.

Knowing without relating to things,

its knowing is subtle of itself.

Illuminating without reflecting upon objects,

its illumination is mysterious of itself.

Its knowing, subtle of itself,

is the thought with no discrimination.

Its illumination, mysterious of itself,

is the sign without the slightest mark.

The thought with no discrimination,

its knowing is completed without other.

The sign without the slightest mark,

its illumination is revealed without choice.

The water is pure and clear to the bottom;

a fish swims slowly.

The sky is vast and finds no boundary;

a bird flies far away.


Source: The Ten Directions, Vol 2, No 2, June 1981. pp. 20