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Sitting Meditation

Foyan, Instant Zen


The light of mind is reflected in emptiness;

Zen Master Hui-neng (638-713) its substance is void of relative or absolute.

Golden waves all around,

Zen is constant, in action or stillness.

Thoughts arise, thoughts disappear;

don't try to shut them off.

Let them flow spontaneously –

what has ever arisen and vanished?

When arising and vanishing quiet down,

there appears the great Zen master;

sitting, reclining, walking around,

there's never an interruption.

When meditating, why not sit?

When sitting, why not meditate?

Only when you have understood this way

is it called sitting meditation.

Who is it that sits? What is meditation?

To try to seat it

is using Buddha to look for Buddha.

Buddha need not be sought;

seeking takes you further away.

In sitting, you do not look at yourself;

meditation is not an external art.

At first, the mind is noisy and unruly;

there is still no choice but to shift it back.

That is why there are many methods

to teach it quiet observation.

When you sit up and gather your spirit,

at first it scatters helter-skelter;

over a period of time, eventually it calms down,

opening and freeing the six senses.

When the six senses rest a bit,

discrimination occurs therein.

As soon as discrimination occurs,

it seems to produce arising and vanishing.

The transformations of arising and vanishing

come from manifestations of one's own mind.

Put your own mind to use to look back once:

once you've returned, no need to do it again;

you wear a halo of light on your head.

The spiritual flames leap and shine,

unobstructed in any state of mind,

all-inclusive, all-pervasive;

birth and death forever cease.

A single grain of restorative elixir

turns gold into liquid;

acquired pollution of body and mind

have no way to get through.

Confusion and enlightenment are temporarily explained;

stop discussing opposition and accord.

When I think carefully of olden days

when I sat coolly seeking,

though it's nothing different,

it was quite a mess.

You can turn from ordinary mortal to sage

in an instant, but no one believes.

All over the earth is unclarity;

best be very careful.

If it happens you do not know,

then sit up straight and think;

one day you'll bump into it.

This I humbly hope.

Book: Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present, translated by Thomas Cleary.

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