I heard many times about the Third Chinese Patriarch and his (although it is being debated whether he is the author) poem that sums up the teachings of Buddhism. I finally decided to investigate who he was and what this poem was all about.
Turns out his name was Seng T’san or Sengcan. And the poem in all its beauty is below as translated by Richard B. Clarke. It packs a lot in. I plan to return to it again and again and meditate on each bit. “Be serene in the oneness of things”, “the unity of emptiness” and “not two” are particularly blowing my mind at the moment, as well as the paragraph about emptiness. Source: here.
Hsin Hsin Ming
verses on the faith mind / inscribed on the believing mind
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
This week I have been to a sacred poetry workshop by Sarit Gafan of @highestgoodwellbeing. Sarit is an intuitive well-being practitioner and a beautiful soul. She took us on a journey inside ourselves. We did some soul-digging to uncover our values – the gems, the words that are important to us.
We learned fun ways to play with the words. For example, for me, the word “gate” has two meanings – a gate, a door and a word from a sanskrit mantra “gate gate paragate parasamgate bodi svaha” (“Gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the Beyond, hail the goer!”). We loosened up, “lost our mind” to become more playful, less bound by the rules. It was lots of fun! My resulting poem that sums up the essence of who I am and which I can go back to when I feel lost or stuck is below.
I am ordered beauty.
Smiling serene emptiness.
A disruptor, a creator,
A loser, a finder.
I make peace and mischief.
I am a naughty cosmic giggle.
A gate to grace of God.
A star wolf.
A white light.
“The way to become one with the Universe is to trust it.”
One day I had an urge to search for “how to trust the Universe” and this video came up. In it, among other things, Watts talks about achieving the state of desirelessness when one wants nothing. Watts says that the next stage is reflection, soul searching and trying out activities that one believes would bring them joy. This leads to the third stage – realisation that even what you thought your soul wanted is not that (neti, neti).
This is a bleak prognosis for the seekers (including me) who think they have achieved desirelessness and it will lead them to the next stage on their journey. We have worked to quieten our minds, to still ourselves, we practiced soul led decision making in the hope that the truth will reveal itself. Or at least we will see the next step on our path. Watts says there is no path and no next steps, just a loop of coming back to not that. He says it is impossible to know what one wants because it is impossible to know what one is. It is also possible that we already have what we seek, we just don’t realise it yet.
When one arrives at the state of desirelessness and non-doing, when one works to quieten their mind, “ceases to cling to themselves”, the extensive energy used for ego defences is released into the Universe. Instead of waiting to see what outcome this energy will lead to for ourselves, Alan Watts is suggesting to give up on the outcome and cease any seeking altogether because there is nothing to find (gasp). Instead he suggests that we live our lives the best we can and enjoy ourselves: “It is your sole duty to learn how to enjoy yourself.”
But what about the Truth! – screams the Seeker in me. Being the seeker is an ego play. You are nobody. And, says Watts, your ego is “seeking the truth” to be able to control the process, to figure out the uncertainty. Wanting to know is trying to control. Instead, surrender the seeking. Let go of knowing. Be the “I don’t know” sort of person.
Uncomfortable with not knowing? Me too. Well, it sounds like this is the recommended practice. Not knowing, yet trusting, and hence living happily in the unknown. Don’t seek anything. Have fun. Enjoy your life as much as possible. “It is only complicated if you start thinking about it.” Well. What do you think?
The freer I get, the higher I go.
The higher I go, the more I see.
The more I see, the less I know.
The less I know, the more I am free.Ram Dass
It is the poem month here on Nomad of the Universe 😂 I have recently found this verse from Tao Te Ching and I froze. It is describing precisely where I am in my life now. “When you arrive at non-action, nothing will be left undone. Mastery of the world is achieved by letting things take their natural course.” Wow. No comment, as they say… By the way, Stephen Reid has recently published all Tao Te Ching verses with his amazing photos if you want to check them out.
Ride your horse along the edge of the sword
Hide yourself in the middle of the flames
Blossoms of the fruit tree will bloom in the fire
The sun rises in the evening.
– Zen Koan.
Isn’t this poem beautiful? How do you understand it? I was chatting to someone in the comments section of one of the Tricycle articles and they mentioned it in the context of the emptiness practice being a step on the awakening journey. And indeed to me, this koan describes perfectly how I feel and see the world now.
“Beauty evolves from emptiness into form.”
— Christopher Alexander
I am emptiness. I am form. I am beauty.
I create form out of emptiness and beauty out of form.
Or rather emptiness makes form beautiful.
Is it form that gives emptiness beauty?
Or is the process of creation inherently beautiful?
Beautiful empty form,
Empty form beauty,
Form beauty emptiness.
Emptiness is form.
Form is empty.
Beauty is emptiness in form,
Form in emptiness.
Emptiness into form,
Form into emptiness –
Beauty of form,
Beauty of emptiness,
Beauty as the outset,
Beauty as an outcome,
Beauty in the process,
Beauty of the process.
Beautiful emptiness of form.
Beautiful form of emptiness.
Empty beauty of form.
Form emptiness of beauty.
Creation for the sake of creation.
I’ve discovered this beautiful song (chant? affirmation?) through my friend, Sarit. It sings like a mantra or prayer. Wayne Dyer talks about how in the Bible the God is called “I am”. I am indeed.
I am the light of my soul. I am beautiful I am. Bountiful I am bliss. I am I am.
Dawa Tarchin Phillips What To Do When You Don’t Know What’s Next
I am going to lead you through a short exercise with your emotions. The first emotion that I would like you to connect with is the emotion of sadness. Think of a time when something hurt or disappointed you; when someone or something broke your heart. Let that emotion arise and experience it. Maybe you lost something or someone special. How does your body experience sadness?
How does your posture express sadness? Now change that feeling by remembering a moment when something went your way. You experienced a success, a real personal triumph. Remember how proud everyone was of you? You knocked it out of the park! Let that emotion come in. Feel the success, the exhilaration and satisfaction of that moment. Let it show in your posture.
Now switch back to sadness again. Reconnect to that emotion from before.
And now change your state of mind again. This time, remember the first time that you fell in love—maybe the first time you held that person in your arms. Let this experience of love fill you. Feel the love of that extraordinary moment. Maybe the moment that comes to mind is when you had your first child, or you got engaged, or you fell head over heels for a dog at the animal shelter. Let the feeling of love arise in you and let it transpire in your attitude.
Now, change your state of mind again, and this time tune into joy. Let pure joy arise within you. What does it feel like? What does joy want to do through you? What is the message joy has for you? Open up to it, let it come in, let it express.
All of these feelings and emotions carry great intensity. That brings us to the sixth principle: dance in the fire. We’re talking about awareness of a mind that is constantly liberating emotions and experiences. In the midst of it all, you can realize that you’re actually not trapped. You’ve just illustrated through the exercise above that you can switch emotions quickly if you give yourself permission to do so. All it takes is a shift in your thoughts, a shift in your attitude, a shift in your focus, and your experience changes. You’re free to make that shift at any time. The question then becomes: What will you do with that freedom? How will you use it, and to what aim?