BookTable of Contents
Sesshin Sutra Book
Translations/revisions by Robert Aitken Roshi
of the Diamond
Sangha Zen Buddhist Society,
Koko An, 2119 Kaloa Way, Honolulu, Hawaii,
Song on Realizing the
by Yung-chia Hsuan-ch'e (Yoka
Zen, sitting is Zen;
Speaking or silent, active or quiet, the essence
is at peace.
Even facing the sword of death, our mind is
Even drinking poison, our mind is quiet.
is practiced in four ways. First, your mind and body are still. This is
the source of all of your Zen actions. Second, your body is still but your
mind moves, as in reading or listening to a lecture. Third, your mind is
still but your body moves, as in walking. Fourth, your mind and body move
as you do your work in daily life. Thus, at each moment a good Zen student
experiences the Mind-Essence at ease.
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.
may be interested in past lives, but Zen students see life as an eternal
presence. Stories of "incarnation" insinuate the idea of individual
personality distorting the vision of truth seekers. When you extend time
and narrow space, you will see Buddha Sakyamuni receiving Dhamma from
Dipankara Buddha many millions of years ago, but when you extend space and
limit time, you will see Ksanti, or perseverance, mastering human affairs.
It is the actual business of the present moment. Until students of
occultism understand this and come to their senses, spiritual gold-diggers
will strike it rich here and abroad.
abruptly realized the unborn,
I have had no reason for joy or
At any honor or disgrace.
I have entered the deep
mountains to silence and beauty;
In a profound valley beneath high
I sit under the old pine trees.
Zazen in my rustic
Is peaceful, lonely, and truly comfortable.
You have no formal merit.
In the multiplicity of the
You cannot find such freedom.
brings the joy of heaven itself,
But it is like shooting an arrow at
When the force is exhausted, it falls to the earth,
then everything goes wrong.
Why should this be better
Than the true
way of the absolute,
Directly penetrating the ground of
Just take hold of the source
And never mind the
It is like a treasure-moon
Enclosed in a beautiful
Now I understand this Mani-jewel
And my gain is the gain of
The moon shines on the river,
The wind blows
through the pines,--
Whose providence is this long beautiful
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
preceding stanza is a koan. You must work hard to catch a glimpse of it.
If you think that I am hiding something from you, you are the guilty one.
I am concealing nothing from you.
once calmed dragons
And a staff separated fighting tigers;
on this staff jingle musically.
The form of these expressions is not to
be taken lightly;
The treasure-staff of the Tathagata
traces for us to follow.
that Buddha Sakyamuni conquered dragons making them so small that they
stayed in his begging bowl. With his staff, a Zen master once stopped the
fighting of two tigers and so saved them from killing each other. These
stories are neither symbols nor miracles. When you attain the mani-gem,
you too can perform the same deeds.
awakened one does not seek truth--
Does not cut off delusion.
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
you in the interpretation of the stanza above, 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 and try to dig
truth from them. They are all wrong. A few of the wiser ones may learn
meditation in their effort to reach an inner void. They choose 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.
mind-mirror is clear, so there are no obstacles.
illuminates the universe
To the depths and in every grain of
Multitudinous things of the cosmos
Are all reflected in the
And this full clarity is beyond inner and outer.
another portion of Shin-jin-mei to interpret the preceding stanza:
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
in nothingness is to ignore cause and effect;
This chaos leads only to
The one who clings to vacancy, rejecting the world of
Escapes from drowning but leaps into fire.
Buddhism denies the existence of everything, this of course includes the
existence of emptiness. There is order, and there is the law of causation.
The use of the word "emptiness" implies that which cannot be
Stanzas 31- 40
BookTable of Contents
Notes and comments
are lifted from the endnotes of the Empty Sky compilation of these Zen
Buddhist texts and The Syllabus section of Encouraging
Words - zen buddhist teachings for western students by Robert