Xin Xin Ming: “Song of the Truthful Mind”

By Seng Can (T'san), Third Ch'an Patriarch in China Translation by Lok Sang Ho, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Buddhistdoor Global | 2012-07-02 |
Venerable Seng Can, Third Patriarch of Ch'an, China photo: Chinese Cultural CenterVenerable Seng Can, Third Patriarch of Ch'an, China photo: Chinese Cultural Center

Song of the Truthful Mind

Jianzhi Sengcan was the Third Ch'an or Zen Patriarch in China, who has been credited with composing a verse called Xinxin Ming. This verse is an appeal to utilize skillful means such as Taoist language to spread Buddhist Dharma. Whether or not Sengcan was the real author is still in dispute, but the text remains an eloquent testament to the Ch'an suspicion of dualistic attachment, narrow-mindedness, and over-reliance on any one set of paradigms or beliefs. With references to the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, the Avatamsaka Sutra (Huayan Jing), as well as the Lankavatara Sutra, Xinxin Ming is a tribute to the benefits of emotional equanimity and the truth of non-duality.


In collaboration with Gladys Liu and Frankie Ho, Lok Sang Ho has adapted this Zen classic into a mini-musical, keeping faithful to its syncretic spirit whilst developing it into a treat for easy listening. He has translated the title as, Song of the Truthful Mind. And what a song of faith and liberation it is.


Composer & Arrangement: Frankie Ho

Vocals : Gladys Liu & Frankie Ho




         *       *       *       *       *


“Song of the Truthful Mind”

The Way of the supreme is not difficult,

If only people will give up preferences.

Like not, dislike not.

Be illuminated.


If you are off by a millimeter,

You will be off by as much as earth is separate from heaven.

If you want to see Truth,

Call no life experience favorable or unfavorable.


To be caught between favorable and unfavorable

Is the sickness of the mind.

If you miss this key point,

Any practice of meditation would only be a waste of time.


The All-Roundedness is like the vast emptiness.

There is nothing lacking, and nothing in excess.

Only the discriminating mind

Renders the All-Roundedness not whole….


Do not pursue the transient,

Do not dwell in emptiness.

Keep to equanimity,

Forget yourself.


If you want to stop an action and so restore stillness

You will only end up putting in more action.

People are always stuck at the two extremes—

If only they know the One (Mind)!


         *       *       *       *       *


If you miss the One (Mind),

You would miss the two:

When you want to chase away existence,

You betray emptiness just as you espouse emptiness.


The more you talk and worry,

The more you sever your link with reality.

When you give up talk and worry

You will encounter no obstructions wherever you go….


Go back to your roots and you will see the key point.

Go where the images go, and you will lose the purpose of your training.

The moment you follow the images

All your previous practice on emptiness will be overtaken.


This degeneration of your previous practice on emptiness

Arises because of false perspectives.

There is really no need to go after the Truth

But there is indeed a need to extinguish biased views.


Do not dwell in the two biased views.

Make sure you do not pursue.

The moment you think about right and wrong

The moment you unwittingly lose your true mind.


The two biased views arise from the false mind.

So do not be stuck with your false mind.

When mental images no longer arise

Everything will be just fine….


         *       *       *       *       *


There isn’t anything wrong; there isn’t any object.

Nothing arises because the false mind does not even exist.

The actor vanishes with the context.

The context disappears and the actor is gone.


The context arises because of the actor.

The actor arises because of the context.

Wish people knew that both the actor and the context

Are empty in essence.


The false mind and the two views are all empty.

This encompasses all phenomena.

Do not distinguish the fine from the coarse.

This way you can avoid bias.


The great Way is broad.

It is neither easy nor difficult.

When the eye with a tiny view doubts

There will arise rapid turns and slow tracks.


Once you lose prudence

You will head straight into the wrong way.

If you relax and take it easy

Your body will neither go forward nor stay behind.


Your nature becomes one with the Way.

With worries gone, you will be your true self.

If you get bogged down by thoughts

You just sink into a dreamy world….


            *       *       *       *       *


If you get weary with anxiety

Neither your close ones nor your more distant acquaintances can help.

If you want a vehicle to take you to the reality

You must not reject the sensory world.


Only when you do not reject the sensory world

Can you return to right consciousness.

The wise ones never pursue anything;

The foolish ones always get tied up in knots.


There is really no other teaching.

Only the foolish ones chase after they don’t know what.

Whether you drive your mind or your mind drives you

You make a grave error.


In bewilderment you derive a sense of false stillness or confusion.

Better, refrain from favor or disfavor.

Both the two biased extremes

Arise from the calculating mind.


Dreamy worlds and false flowers

Need never be grasped and disposed of.

Any sense of gain or loss, right or wrong, however,

Do give up momentarily.


If the eyes aren’t asleep

All the dreams are gone.

If the mind does not make any distinctions

All the phenomenal world will be one with reality.


When you see reality as a mystical whole,

Immediately there will be no more conditional existence.

As you look at the entire phenomenal world with the same mind

You return to nature as it is.


When subject and object exist no more

The entire world will not be the same.

There will be no action because actions have stopped;

There will be no inaction because inactions have been activated.


With both action and inaction gone,

Where is the false mind?

When the ultimate reality is realized,

No more rules can you find….


Thereupon the mind assumes equanimity.

There will be nothing more to do.

All doubts are swept away.

Only then the truthful, straight mind obtains.


Nothing is left behind.

Nothing is left to recall.

The empty enlightenment illuminates itself.

There is no need for the slightest mental effort.


It is a realm beyond thinking,

A realm beyond the apprehension of reasoning and emotions.

A realm of reality as it is,

Concepts about the self and the others vanish….


*       *       *       *       *


If you want a quick dialogue with reality

Just avoid the two extremes.

When there is no hang-up with the two extremes

You will accommodate everything.


All the wise ones from the ten directions

Follow this same teaching,

A teaching that is neither hurried nor slow:

Yet one flash of thought is like ten thousand years.


The reality is everywhere.

It is in front of you, and in all the ten directions.

The extremely small is no different from the big

As you forget totally the context.


The extremely big is no different from the small

As you see no more the edge and the outer covering.

Existence is the same as emptiness.

Emptiness is the same as existence.


If it were not like this

You know it is not worth following.

In one you can see all.

In all you can see one.


If you can do this

You will have no worry that you will not see the ultimate.

The truthful mind is beyond the two views.

Beyond the two views is the truthful mind….


            *       *       *       *       *


Words and language fail,

For reality is neither the past and nor the future.

And it is not even the present.



至道無難  唯嫌揀擇  但莫憎愛  洞然明白  毫釐有差  天地懸隔

欲得現前  莫存順逆  違順相爭  是爲心病  不識玄旨  徒勞念靜

圓同太虛  無欠無餘  良由取捨  所以不如  莫逐有緣  勿住空忍

一種平懷  泯然自盡  止動歸止  止更彌動  唯滯兩邊  寧知一種;


一種不通  兩處失功  遣有沒有  從空背空  多言多慮  轉不相應

絕言絕慮  無處不通  歸根得旨  隨照失宗  須臾返照  勝卻前空

前空轉變  皆由妄見  不用求真  唯須息見  二見不住  慎勿追尋

才有是非  紛然失心  二由一有  一亦莫守  一心不生  萬法無咎;


無咎無法  不生不心  能隨境滅  境逐能沈  境由能境  能由境能

欲知兩段  元是一空  一空同兩  齊含萬像  不見精粗  寧有偏

大道體寬  無易無難  小見狐疑  轉急轉遲  執之失度  心入邪路

放之自然  體無去住  任性合道  逍遙絕惱  繫念乖真  昏沈不好;


不好勞神  何用疏親  欲趣一乘  勿惡六塵  六塵不惡  還同正覺

智者無爲  愚人自縛  法無異法  妄自愛著  將心用心  豈非大錯

迷生寂亂  悟無好惡  一切二邊  妄自斟酌  夢幻虛華  何勞把捉

得失是非  一時放卻  眼若不眠  諸夢自除  心若不異  萬法一如;


一如體玄  兀爾忘緣  萬法齊觀  歸復自然  泯其所以  不可方比

止動無動  動止無止  兩既不成  一何有爾  究竟窮極  不存軌則

契心平等  所作俱息  狐疑盡淨  正信調直  一切不留  無可記憶

虛明自照  不勞心力  非思量處  識情難測  真如法界  無他無自;


要急相應  唯言不二  不二皆同  無不包容  十方智者  皆入此宗

宗非促延  一念萬年  無在不在  十方目前  極小同大  忘絕境界

極大同小  不見邊表  有即是無  無即是有  若不如是  必不須守

一即一切  一切即一  但能如是  何慮不畢  信心不二  不二信心;


言語道斷  非去來今

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