An experiment in looking at these verses from my current direct (very limited) experiences with (a) the formless unborn (nature of mind) and (b) Big Mind.
Verses on the Faith Mind
by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an
Third Zen Patriarch [606AD]
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When I look inside to find who or what I am, I can only find infinite space and awareness. This is what all my experiences unfold within. Sometimes I am aware of it, and it becomes the context for all the changing experiences. Sometime I get caught up in the experiences themselves, and although everything is still unfolding withing this space & awareness, my experience of it is temporarily clouded over. This space & awareness is that in which all experiences unfold within, and it cannot – by its nature – have any preferences. When we come to our nature as space and awareness, it is not difficult.
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.
When I am aware of myself as space & awareness, I find that likes and dislikes cannot exist here. Everything becomes clear.
When I loose awareness of this context for my experiences, I am blindly identified with the experiences themselves. I take them all seriously, because they are all there is. I identify with them and become caught up in them. I am caught up in dualistic views, in either/or. I believe in and identify with thoughts. I believe in and identify with feelings of attraction and aversion. I make distinctions of right and wrong, good and bad, and it splits my world. I experience confusion and separation.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
Again, this is what happens when I (a) loose awareness of my nature as space & awareness, and (b) get blindly caught up in the experiences themselves.
When I am aware of myself as space & awareness, all experiences unfolds within this space. There is clarity, overview and a sense of choice in how to relate to and engage with the experiences (including those coming from this small self, this body/personality).
When I loose awareness of this context, I am blindly caught up in the patterns of the small self. I blindly believe and am caught up in emotions and thoughts, as these are all I am aware of. They fill up all the space.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
Being wrapped up in that which is experienced, it is a constant rollercoaster ride. I am blindly caught up in likes and dislikes, and habitual patterns of this small self triggered by external circumstances. There is no way out. Nothing I can do from this space can give any lasting relief.
The Way is perfect like vast space
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
that we do not see the true nature of things.
Be serene in the oneness of things
and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
I can be aware of myself – here and now – as space & awareness. As the formless unborn. A that empty of any characteristics, distinct from the world of phenomena. That which is experiencing. The context for all experiences. This infinite space is distinct from ideas of missing and excess. It just is – as it is.
Resting in this space, I perceive all phenomena as aspects of a seamless whole. The view becomes more transdual. I see the oneness of things.
Resting here, there is no need to accept or reject experiences – they just unfold within the space. And resting here, old habits and patterns of blind likes and dislikes fall away. I do not have to engage with them anymore.
When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain in one extreme or the other,
you will never know Oneness.
When I am aware of myself as space & awareness, there is engagement and disengagement but no effort.
When I am exclusively identified with the small self, there cannot be anything other than effort – trying to fuel one thing and dissipate the other. As long as I caught up in this effort and trying, I will always look too far away for my nature as space & awareness.
Those who do not live in the single Way
fail in both activity and passivity,
assertion and denial.
To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality;
to assert the emptiness of things
is to miss their reality.
When I am aware of myself as space & awareness, the small self – this body, sensations, emotions, thooughts, behaviors – arise within this space and awareness. I don’t need to be exclusively identified with it. I don’t need to take it too seriously.
I see activity and passivity, assertion and denial, phenomena and emptiness, as aspects of the whole. And I don’t take them too seriously (they are just ideas and faint abstractions – they loose their facination compared to direct experience).
When I loose awareness of this context, I become blindly caught up in the small self and the habitual patterns of the small self. I blindly engage in either activity or passivity, assertion and denial. It is one or the other, and they both seem as the only truth when they arise.
The more you talk and think about it,
the further astray you wander from the truth.
Stop talking and thinking
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
Come to that which is experiencing, in addition to what is experienced. From there, there is direct perception unfiltered by the likes and dislikes, thoughts and ideas, of the small self.
To return to the root is to find the meaning,
but to pursue appearances is to miss the source.
At the moment of inner enlightenment,
there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness.
The changes that appear to occur in the empty world
we call real only because of our ignorance.
Do not search for the truth;
only cease to cherish opinions.
The root is this space & awareness – it is the root of all experiences. (And if we awaken to Big Mind we recognize this universe as consciousness, and I am that consciousness. This consciousness is similarly empty of any characteristics – it too is the formless unborn. It too is that in which all phenomena arise within.)
Do not remain in the dualistic state;
avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is even a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the One,
do not be attached even to this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
nothing in the world can offend,
and when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way.
When no discriminating thoughts arise,
the old mind ceases to exist.
When thought objects vanish,
the thinking-subject vanishes,
and when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.
Things are objects because there is a subject or mind;
and the mind is a subject because there are objects.
Understand the relativity of these two
and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness.
In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable
and each contains in itself the whole world.
If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine
you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.
To live in the Great Way
is neither easy nor difficult.
But those with limited views
are fearful and irresolute;
the faster they hurry, the slower they go.
Clinging cannot be limited;
even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment
is to go astray.
Just let things be in their own way
and there will be neither coming nor going.
Obey the nature of things
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden,
for everything is murky and unclear.
The burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way
do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to accept them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise man strives to no goals
but the foolish man fetters himself.
There is one Dharma, not many;
distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with discriminating mind
is the greatest of all mistakes.
Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams of flowers in air:
foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong;
such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.
If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things
are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally
the timeless Self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.
Consider motion in stillness
and stillness in motion;
both movement and stillness disappear.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate finality
no law or description applies.
For the unified mind in accord with the Way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and life in true faith is possible.
With a single stroke we are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no exertion of the mind’s power.
Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.
In this world of Suchness
there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To come directly into harmony with this reality
just simply say when doubt arises, “Not two.”
In this “not two” nothing is separate,
nothing is excluded.
No matter when or where,
enlightenment means entering this truth.
And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space;
in it a single thought is ten thousand years.
Emptiness here, Emptiness there,
but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small;
no difference, for definitions have vanished
and no boundaries are seen.
So too with Being and non-Being.
Waste no time in doubts and arguments
that have nothing to do with this.
One thing, all things;
move among and intermingle,
To live in this realization
is to be without anxiety about nonperfection.
To live in this faith is the road to nonduality,
because the nondual is one with the trusting mind.
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is