22 May 2008



Action is relationship, and we cannot live or exist without action. Action seems to produce constant friction, constant misunderstanding and anxiety; and we see in the world that all organized action has most unfortunately led to a series of disasters. We see in the world about us confusion, misery and conflicting desires; and realizing this world chaos, most thoughtfull and earnest people - not the people who are playing at make believe, but people who are really concerned - will naturally see the importance of thinking out the problem of action. There is mass action and individual action; and mass action has become an abstraction, a convenient escape for the individual. By thinking that this chaos, this misery, this disaster that is constantly arising, can somehow be transformed or brought to order by mass action, the individual becomes irresponsible. The mass is surely a fictitious entity; the mass is you and I. It is only when you and I do not understand the relationship of true action that we turn to the abstraction called the mass - and thereby become irresponsible in our action. For reform in action, we look either to a leader, or to organized, collective action, which again is mass action. When we turn to a leader for direction in action, we invariably choose a person we think will help us to go beyond our own problems, our own misery. But, because we choose a leader out of our confusion, the leader himself is also confused. We do not choose a leader unlike ourselves; we cannot. We can only choose a leader who, like ourselves, is confused; therefore, such leaders, such guides and so-called spiritual gurus, invariably lead us to further confusion, to further misery. Since what we choose must be out of our own confusion, when we follow a leader we are only following our own confused self-projection. Therefore, such action, though it may produce an immediate result, invariably leads to further disaster. 
     So, we see that mass action, though in certain cases it may be worthwhile, is bound to lead to disaster, to confusion, and bring about irresponsibility on the part of the individual; and that the following of a leader must also increase confusion. And yet we have to live. To live, is to act; to be, is to be related. There is no action without relationship, and we cannot live in isolation. There is no such thing as isolation. Life is to act and to be related. So, to understand the action which does not create further misery, further confusion, we have to understand ourselves, with all our contradictions, our opposing elements, our many facets that are constantly in battle with each other. Till we understand ourselves, action must inevitably lead to further conflict, to further misery. 
     So, our problem is to act with understanding; and that understanding can come about only through self-knowledge. After all, the world is the projection of myself. What I am , the world is; the world is not different from me, the world is not opposed to me. The world and I are not separate entities. Society is myself, there are not two different processes. The world is my own extension, and to understand the world I have to understand myself. The individual is not in opposition to the mass, to society, because society is the individual. Society is the relationship between you and me and another. There is opposition between the individual and society only when the individual becomes irresponsible. So, our problem is considerable. There is an extraordinary crisis which faces every country, every person, every group. What relationship have we, you and I, to that crisis, and how shall we act? Where shall we begin so as to bring about a transformation? As I said, if we look to the mass, there is no way out, because the mass implies a leader; and the mass is always exploited by the politician, the priest and the expert. And since you and I make up the mass, we have to assume the responsibility for our own action, that is, we have to understand our own nature, we have to understand ourselves. To understand ourselves is not to withdraw from the world; because to withdraw implies isolation, and we cannot live in isolation. So, we have to understand action in relationship, and that understanding depends on awareness of our own conflicting and contradictory nature. I think it is foolish to conceive of a state in which there is peace and to which we can look. There can be peace and tranquillity only when we understand the nature of ourselves, and not presuppose a state which we do not know. There may be a state of peace, but mere speculation about it is useless. 
     So, in order to act rightly, there must be right thinking; to think rightly, there must be self-knowledge; and self-knowledge can come about only through relationship, not through isolation. Right thinking can come only in understanding ourselves, from which there springs right action. So, right action is that which comes out of the understanding of ourselves, not one part of ourselves, but the whole content of ourselves, our contradictory natures, all that we are. As we understand ourselves, there is right action, and from that action there is happiness. After all, it is happiness that we want, that most of us are seeking through various forms, through various escapes - the escapes of social activity, of the bureaucratic. world, of amusement, of worship and the repetition of phrases, of sex, and innumerable other escapes. But we see these escapes do not bring lasting happiness, they give only a temporary alleviation. Fundamentally, there is nothing true in them, no lasting delight; and I think we will find that delight, that ecstasy, that real joy of creative being, I only when we understand ourselves. This understanding of ourselves is not easy, it needs a certain alertness, awareness. That alertness, that awareness, can come only when we do not condemn, when we do not justify; because, the moment there is condemnation or justification, there is a putting an end to the process of understanding. When we condemn someone, we cease to understand that person; and when we identify ourselves with that person, we again cease to understand him. It is the same with ourselves. To observe, to be passively aware of what you are, is most difficult; but out of that passive awareness there comes an under, standing, there comes a transformation of what is, and it is only that transformation which opens the door to reality. 
     Our problem, then, is action, understanding and happiness. There is no foundation for true thinking unless we know ourselves. Without knowing myself, I have no foundation for thought - I can only live in a state of contradiction, as most of us do. To bring about a transformation in the world, which is the world of my relationship, I must begin with myself. You may say, `To bring about transformation in the world that way will take an infinitely long time'. If we are seeking immediate results, naturally we will think it takes too long. The immediate results are promised by the politicians; but I am afraid for the man seeking truth there is no immediate result. It is truth that transforms, not the immediate action; it is only the discovery of truth by each one that will bring about happiness and peace in the world. To live in the world and yet not be of the world is our problem, and it is a problem of earnest pursuit; because, we cannot withdraw, we cannot renounce, but we have to understand ourselves. The understanding of oneself is the beginning of wisdom. To understand oneself is to understand one's relationship with things, people and ideas. Until we understand the full significance and meaning of our relationship with things, people and ideas, action, which is relationship, will inevitably bring about conflict and strife. So, a man who is really earnest must begin with himself, he must be passively aware of all his thoughts, feelings and actions. Again, this is not a matter of time. There is no end to self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is only from moment to moment, and therefore there is a creative happiness from moment to moment. 
     So, as all of us are concerned with right action, with peace and happiness, these things can come about only through the understanding of our own complex natures. That understanding is not of great difficulty, but it demands a certain earnestness, certain pliability of mind. When there is constant, passive awareness of our speech, of cur thoughts and feelings, without condemnation or justification, that very awareness brings its own action and therefore its own transformation - which is not a result of our efforts to transform ourselves. But for that truth to be, there must be a quality of receptivity in which there is no demand, no fear, no desire; and that can come into being only when there is passive awareness. 
     We will discuss all these things during the next few weeks, but now I will answer some questions. To have the right answer, there must be a right question. Anybody can put a question. But to find the answer to a question, we must study the problem itself and not the answer, because the answer is contained in the problem. There is an art in looking into a problem and understanding it. So, when I deal with your questions, please do not wait for an answer; because, you and I are going to think out the problem together and find the answer in the problem. But if you merely wait for an answer, I am afraid you will be disappointed. Life has no categorical `yes' or `no" although that is what we would like. Life is more complex than that, more subtle. So, to find the answer we must study the problem, which means we must have the patience and intelligence to go into it. 
     Question: What place has organized religion in modern society? 
     Krishnamurti: Let us find out what we mean by religion and what we mean by modern society. What do we mean by religion? What does religion mean to you? It means, does it not?, a set of beliefs, ritual, dogmas, many superstitions, puja, the repetition of words, vague, unfulfilled, frustrated hopes, reading certain books, pursuing gurus, going to the temple occasionally, and so on. Surely, all that is religion to most of our people. But is that religion? Is religion a custom, a habit, a tradition? Surely, religion is something far beyond all that, is it not? Religion implies the search for reality, which has nothing whatever to do with organized belief, temples, dogmas, or rituals; and yet our thinking, the very fabric of our being is enmeshed, caught up in beliefs, superstitions, and so on. So, obviously, modern man is not religious; therefore, his society is not a sane, balanced society. We may follow certain doctrines, worship certain pictures, or create a new religion of the State; but obviously, all these things are not religion. I said that religion is the search for reality; but that reality is unknown, it is not the reality of the books, it is not the experience of others. To find that reality, to uncover it, to invite it, the known must stop; the significance of all the traditions and beliefs must be gone into, understood and discarded. For this, the repetition of rituals has no meaning. So, a man who is reli- gious, obviously does not belong to any religion, to any organization; he is neither Hindu nor Muslim, he does not belong to any class. 
     Now, what is the modern world? The modern world is made up of technique and efficiency in mass organizations. There is an extraordinary advancement in technology, and a maldistribution of mass needs, the means of production are in the hands of a few, there are conflicting nationalities, constantly recurring wars because of sovereign governments, and so on. That is the modern world, is it not? There is technical advancement without an equally vital psychological advancement, and so there is a state of unbalance; there are extraordinary scientific achievements, and at the same time human misery, empty hearts and empty minds. Many of the techniques we have learned have to do with building airplanes, killing each other, and so on. So, that is the modern world, which is yourself. The world is not different from you. Your world, which is yourself, is a world of the cultivated intellect and the empty heart. If you look into yourselves, you will see that you are the very product of modern civilization. You know how to do a few tricks, technical, physical tricks, but you are not creative human beings. You produce children, but that is not creative. To be able to create one needs extraordinary inward richness, and that richness can come about only when we understand truth, when we are capable of receiving truth. 
     So, organized religion and the modern world go together - they both cultivate the empty heart. and that is the unfortunate part of our existence. We are superficial, intellectually brilliant, capable of great inventions, producing the most destructive means of liquidating each other, and creating more and more division between ourselves. But we do not know what it means to love, we have no song in our hearts. We play the gramophone, listen to the radio; but there is no singing, because our hearts are empty. We have created a world that is utterly confused, miserable, and our relationships are flimsy, superficial. Yes, organized religion and the modern world go together, because both lead to confusion; and this confusion of organized religion and the modern world is the outcome of ourselves. They are the self-projected expressions of ourselves. So, there can be no transformation in the world outside unless there is a transformation within the skin of each one of us; and to bring about that transformation is not the problem of the expert, of the specialist, of the leader or the priest. It is the problem of each one of us. If we leave it to others, we become irresponsible, and therefore our hearts become empty. An empty heart with a technical mind is not a creative human being; and because we have lost that creative state, we have produced a world that is utterly miserable, confused, broken by wars, torn by class and racial distinctions. So, it is our responsibility to bring about a radical transformation within ourselves. 
     Question: I am in conflict and suffering. For thousands of years we have been told of the causes of suffering and the way of its cessation, and yet we are where we are today. Is it possible to end this suffering? 
     Krishnamurti: I wonder how many of us are aware that we are suffering. Are you aware, not theoretically but actually, that you are in conflict? And if you are, what do you do? You try to escape from it, don't you? The moment one is aware of this conflict and suffering, one tries to forget it in intellectual pursuits, in work, or in seeking enjoyment, pleasure. One seeks an escape from suffering; and all escapes are the same, are they not? whether they are cultured or crude. What do we mean by conflict? When are you aware that you are in conflict? Conflict arises, surely, when there is the consciousness of the `me'. There is awareness of the conflict only when the `me' suddenly becomes conscious of itself; otherwise, you lead a monotonous, superficial, dull, routine life, don't you? You are aware of yourself only when there is conflict, and as long as everything is moving smoothly without a contradiction, without a frustration, there is no consciousness of yourself in action. As long as I am not pushed around, as long as I am getting what I want, I am not in conflict; but the moment I am blocked, I am aware of myself and become miserable. In other words, conflict arises only when there is a sense of `myself' facing a frustration in action. So, what do we want? We want to have an action which is constantly self-fulfilling, without frustration, that is, we want to live without being blocked. In other words, we want our desires fulfilled; and as long as those desires are not fulfilled, there is conflict, there is contradiction. So, our problem is how to fulfil, how to achieve self-fulfilment without frustration. I want to possess something - property, a person, a title, or what you will - , and if I can get it, and go on getting what I want, then I am happy, there is no contradiction. So, what we are seeking is self-fulfilment, and as long as we can achieve that fulfilment, there is no friction. 
     Now, the question is, is there such a thing as self-fulfilment? That is, can I achieve something, become something, realize something? And iii that desire, is there not a constant battle? That is, as long as I crave to become something, to achieve something to fulfil myself, there must be frustration, there must be fear, there must be conflict; and therefore, is there such a thing as self-fulfilment? What do we mean by self-fulfilment? By self-fulfilment we mean self-expansion, the `me' becoming wider, greater, more important, the `me' becoming the governor, the executive, the bank manager, and so on. Now, if you go into it a little more deeply you will see that as long as there is this action of the self, that is, as long as there is self-consciousness in action, there must be frustration, therefore there must be suffering. Hence our problem is, not how to overcome suffering, how to put aside conflict, but to understand the nature of the self, the `me'. I hope I am not making this too complicated. If we merely try to overcome conflict, try to put sorrow aside, we do not understand the nature of the creator of sorrow. 
     As long as thought is concerned with its own improvement, its own transformation, its own advancement, there must be conflict and contradiction. So, we come back to the obvious fact that conflict, suffering, will exist as long as I do not understand myself. Therefore, to understand oneself is more important than to know how to overcome sorrow and conflict. We can go further into all this later. But to escape from sorrow through rituals, through amusements, through beliefs, or any other form of distraction, is to take your thought further and further away from the central issue, which is to understand yourself. To understand suffering, there must be the cessation of all escapes, for only then are you able to face yourself in action; and in understanding yourself in action, which is relationship, you will find a way of completely freeing thought from all conflict and living in a state of happiness, of reality. 
     Question: We live, but we know not why. To so many of us, life seems to have no meaning. Can you tell us the meaning and purpose of our living? Krishnamurti: Now, why do you ask this question? Why are you asking me to tell you the meaning of life, the purpose of life? What do we mean by life? Does life have a meaning, a purpose? Is not living in itself its own purpose, its own meaning? Why do we want more? Because we are so dissatisfied with our life, our life is so empty, so tawdry, so monotonous, doing the same thing over and over again, we want something more, something beyond what we are doing. Since our everyday life is so empty, so dull, so meaningless, so boring, so intolerably stupid, we say life must have a fuller meaning; and that is why you ask this question. Surely, Sir, a man who is living richly, a man who sees things as they are and is content with what he has, is not confused; he is clear, therefore, he does not ask what is the purpose of life. For him the very living is the beginning and the end. So, our difficulty is that, since our life is empty, we want to find a purpose of life and strive for it. Such a purpose of life can only be mere intellection, without any reality; and when the purpose of life is pursued by a stupid, dull mind, by an empty heart, that purpose will also be empty. Therefore, our problem is how to make our life rich, not with money and all the rest of it, but inwardly rich - which is not something cryptical. When you say that the purpose of life is to be happy, the purpose of life is to find God, surely that desire to find God is an escape from life, and your God is merely a thing that is known. You can only make your way towards an object that you know; and if you build a staircase to the thing that you call God, surely that is not God. Reality can be understood only in living not in escape. When you seek a purpose of life, you are really escaping and not understanding what life is. Life is relationship, life is action in relationship; and when I do not understand relationship, or when relationship is confused, then I seek a fuller meaning. Why are our lives so empty? Why are we so lonely, frustrated? Because we have never looked into ourselves and understood ourselves. We never admit to ourselves that this life is all we know, and that it should therefore be understood fully and completely. We prefer to run away from ourselves, and that is why we seek the purpose of life away from relationship. But if we begin to understand action, which is our relationship with people, with property, with beliefs and ideas, then we will find that relationship itself brings its own reward. You do not have to seek. It is like seeking love. Can you find love by seeking it? Love cannot be cultivated. You will find love only in relationship, not outside of relationship; and it is because we have no love that we want a purpose of life. When there is love, which is its own eternity, then there is no search for God, because love is God. 
     It is because our minds are full of technicalities and superstitious muttering's that our lives are so empty, and that is why we seek a purpose beyond ourselves. To find life's purpose we must go through the door of ourselves; but consciously or unconsciously we avoid facing things as they are in themselves, and so we want God to open for us a door which is beyond.This question about the purpose of life is put only by him who does not love, and love can be found only in action, which is relationship. 
     Question: The only thing that gives zest to life is the desire to do something worthwhile. You tell us that this is a false step. If this incentive to work is removed, what is left? 
     Krishnamurti: Sir, why do we want an incentive,to work, why do we want an incentive to do any- thing? What do we mean by, `incentive'? We want a reward for our action, do we not? We may not seek money, an objective reward, but we want a psychological reward, a psychological incentive for what we do. That is why we go to a guru. It is incentive that makes us act, otherwise psychologically we would not live at all. That is, psychologically, inwardly, we want rewards - reward for our search, reward for our thinking, for our feeling. That is a fact, is it not? And what is the reward that we want? Inevitably it is gratification. As long as we can find psychological gratification, we will do something. So, what we are seeking is constant gratification, constant satisfaction; and when that is denied, we feel frustrated. 
     Now, is there gratification, is there ever a lasting gratification? Or is there only temporary gratification that inevitably brings conflict, pain? So, we have to find out for ourselves if there is a permanent gratification. We may put aside the obviously temporary gratifications because we see that they bring misfortunes, frustrations, anxieties, fear, and so on; but we think we can find a lasting, an enduring gratification, which we call truth, God, and for that we want to work. But is there such a thing as permanent gratification? That is, is there permanent psychological security? You have invented the permanent psychological security as God, as a continuous living after death, and so on. But is there such complete gratification, security? Or is it that the mind, not knowing what is in the future, - the future being uncertain, - projects its own creation as a certainty? That is, the mind moves from the known to the known; it cannot move to the unknown, therefore it wants an assurance of the next known; and when the next known is questioned, we become anxious. 
     So, while physical security is necessary, there is no such thing as permanent psychological security; and the moment you have that security, which is self-projected, you become lazy, contented and stagnant. But when there is no security, then you must have a mind that is living from moment to moment, therefore living in uncertainty; and the mind that is uncertain, the mind that does not know, that is not seeking gratification, is creative. That creative state of being comes about only when the mind is completely silent, when it is not seeking, when it is not looking for a reward. Then there is abiding peace; and because we do not know how to arrive at that state, we seek gratification and hold it, and that gratification becomes the incentive for action. But gratification, however refined, entails endless fear, anxiety, doubt, violence, and all the rest. But if the mind understands itself and thereby finds that state in which there is complete tranquillity, then creation takes place; and that creation is itself the total end of all existence. 
     November 14, 1948

What happens us when we die

“When I drink tea it’s very pleasant to be aware
I am drinking cloud.” What happens when you die?
by Thich Nhat Hanh

A transcription from a talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh during a retreat with five hundred people in Hong Kong on 15 May 2007

In order to answer what happens us when we die, we need to answer another question – what happens when we are alive?

What is happening now to us? In English we say ‘we are’ but it’s proper to say ‘we are becoming’ because things are becoming. We’re not the same person in two consecutive minutes.

A picture of you as baby looks different to you now. The fact is you are not exactly the same as that baby and not entirely a different person either. In a picture of you as a five year old, you are not exactly the same as that child and not entirely a different person either – the form, feelings and mental formations are different.

In the middle way there is no sameness and no otherness

You may think you are still alive but in fact you have been dying everyday, every minute, cells die and are born - for neither do we have funerals or birthdays (laughter).

Death is a very necessary condition of birth. With no death, there is no birth. They inter-are and happen in every moment to the experienced meditator. For instance a cloud may have died many times, into rain, streams, water. The cloud may want to wave to itself on earth! Rain is a continuation of the cloud. With a meditation practitioner nothing can hide itself. When I drink tea, it’s very pleasant to be aware I am drinking cloud.

When you are parents, you die and are reborn as your children. “You are my continuation, I love you.” The Buddha told us how to ensure a beautiful continuation – a compassionate thought, a beautiful thought. Forgiveness is our continuation. If anger, separation and hate arise, then we will not ensure a beautiful continuation. When we pronounce a word that is compassionate, good and beautiful that is our continuation.

When a cloud is polluted, the rain is polluted. So purifying thoughts, word and action creates a beautiful continuation. We can see the effects of our speech in our children. My disciples are my continuation – both monastic and lay. I want to transmit loving speech, action and thought. This is called karma in Buddhism.

This body of mine will disintegrate but my karma will continue – karma means action. My karma is already in the world. My continuation is everywhere in the world. When you look at one of my disciples walking with compassion, I know he is my continuation. I don’t want to transmit my negative emotions, I want to transform them before I transmit them. The dissolution of this body is not my end. Surely I will continue after the dissolution of this body. So don’t worry about my death, I am not going to die.

Let us meditate on the birth of a cloud. Does it have a birth certificate? (laughter) Examine the notion of birth – the notion that nothing can come from something, from no-one to someone. Is it possible for something to come from nothing? Scientifically this is not possible.

The cloud was water in an ocean, lake, river and heat from the sun gave it birth – the moment of continuation. For instance, birth – before you were born you were in your mother’s womb. The moment of birth is a moment of continuation. Is the moment of conception the start? You are half from your dad and half from your mum already, this is also a moment of continuation. When you practise meditation you can see things like that.

It is impossible for a cloud to die. It can become water, snow – it cannot become nothing. It is also impossible for us to die. Speech, action and thought continue in the future. The person who dies still continues because we are not capable of using meditators’ eyes. They continue in us and around us. All our ancestors are alive in us. Our ancestors are in our chromosomes.

I wrote a book ‘No Death, No Fear’. When conditions are right I manifest and when not, not. There is no coming, no going. Before she manifests we should not call her non-existing. Before manifestation you cannot call her non-being. They are a pair of opposites.

Meditating on the nature of creation and being may be the best way to understanding God. The theologian Paul Koenig describes God as the Ground of Being. Who then is the Ground of Non-being? This diminishes God. In Buddhism both notions of being and non-being can describe reality. Similarly, above and below, Europe and here.

Nirvana is the absence of all notions, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness. According to Buddhism, ‘to be or not to be’ is not a real question.

Meditation takes us beyond to a place of fearlessness. We’re too busy, so we become victims of anger, fear. If we have really touched our nature of no birth/death, we know to die is one of the root conditions to realise oneself.

We have to learn how to die in every moment in order to be fully alive.
This teaching on the middle way is the cream of Buddha’s teaching. Many of our ancestors realised this and were not afraid of death.

We should be able to release our tensions. We are the karma we produce every day in our daily life, if we know how, to ensure continuation. I have a disciple in Vietnam who wants to build a stupa with my ashes. He wants to put a plaque with the words ‘Here lies my beloved teacher’. But I want to write ‘There is nothing here’ (lots of laughter). Because if you look deeply there is continuation.

I treasure the time I have left, more for me to practise. I want to generate energy of love, compassion and understanding so I can continue beautifully. I would like you to do the same. Use your time wisely. Every moment produce beautiful thoughts, loving, kindness, forgiveness. Say beautiful things, inspire, forgive, act physically to protect and help. We know we are capable of producing beautiful karma for good continuations and the happiness of other people.

When the time comes for dissolution of this body you may like to release it easily. You aren’t to grasp – releasing body and perception. Remember the image of a cloud in the sky seeing continuation in rice and ice-cream waving to itself. You can already see your continuation. The art of living is continuation. For myself and the other beings.

Sariputra – one of Buddha’s main disciples, Ananda and other friends went to see Anathapindika a lay disciple who was a businessman and dying. He had made time to come to dharma talks and weekly practice.

When the Venerables came they asked whether the pain had diminished. He replied that it was increasing. The monks led him on a meditation on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. After a few minutes there was no more suffering and he smiled.

When you sit close to a person dying talk to them of happy experiences in their life. Touch seeds of happiness in them.

The monks asked Anathapindika to look at his feelings and perceptions. “I am life without boundaries, this body is a residue.”

Help the dying person not to cling to his or her body. If there is regret, help them to see they are not their feelings. When conditions are manifested this body manifests and when not, it goes. The nature of this body is not birth, death, coming or going – not hurt by notion of being or non-being. I am free from birth or death. That practice helps me.

Anathapindika cried. Ananda asked, “why are you crying?”
“No, I don’t regret anything,” Anathapindika replied.
“Why are you crying?” asked Ananda.
“I cry because I am so moved by such a wonderful practice as today,” Anathapindika said.
“We monastics receive this every day,” said Ananda.
“There are those amongst us lay people who still need this, please tell the Lord Buddha this.”
Ananda promised to tell the Buddha, and Anathapindika died smiling peacefully.

Thich Nhat Hanh gave an illustration with a box of matches.
Holding up an unlit match, he said, “there is flame, but the conditions to manifest it are not here now.”
Then he lit the match and blew it out.
He said when the conditions were right (the conditions being his hand striking the match to the matchbox), the flame became. And when the conditions were not right, the flame was extinguished.

Courtersy: Holistic Hong Kong

Live A Life That Matters

LIFE Wisdom

21 May 2008

Heart Sutra of Taoism.

Qingjing Jing

The Great Tao has no form;
It brings forth and raises heaven and earth.
The Great Tao has no feelings;
It regulates the course of the sun and the moon.

The Great Tao has no name;
It raises and nourishes the myriad beings.
I do not know its name —
So I call it Tao.

The Tao can be pure or turbid, moving or tranquil.
Heaven is pure, earth is turbid;
Heaven is moving, earth is tranquil.
The male is moving, the female is tranquil.

Descending from the origin,
Flowing toward the end,
The myriad beings are being born.

Purity — the source of turbidity.
Movement — the root of tranquillity.

Always be pure and tranquil;
Heaven and earth
Return to the primordial.

The human spirit is fond of purity,
But the mind disturbs it.
The human mind is fond of tranquillity,
But desires meddle with it.

Get rid of desires for good,
And the mind will be calm.
Cleanse your mind,
And the spirit will be pure.

Naturally the six desires won't arise,
The three poisons are destroyed.
Whoever cannot do this
Has not yet cleansed his mind,
His desires are not yet driven out.

Those who have abandoned their desires:
Observe your mind by introspection —
And see there is no mind.

Then observe the body,
Look at yourself from without —
And see there is no body.

Then observe others by glancing out afar —
And see there are no beings.

Once you have realised these three,
You observe emptiness!

Use emptiness to observe emptiness,
And see there is no emptiness.
When even emptiness is no more,
There is no more nonbeing either.

Without even the existence of nonbeing
There is only serenity,
Profound and everlasting.

When serenity dissolves in nothingness —
How could there be desires?
When no desires arise
You have found true tranquillity.

In true tranquillity, go along with beings;
In true permanence, realize inner nature.
Forever going along, forever tranquil —
This is permanent purity, lasting tranquillity.

In purity and tranquillity,
Gradually enter the true Tao.
When the true Tao is entered,
It is realised.

Though we speak of "realized,"
Actually there is nothing to attain.
Rather, we speak of realization
When someone begins to transform the myriad beings.

Only who has properly understood this
Is worthy to transmit the sages' Tao.

The highest gentleman does not fight;
The lesser gentleman loves to fight.
Highest Virtue is free from Virtue;
Lesser Virtue clings to Virtue.

All clinging and attachments
Have nothing to do with the Tao or the Virtue.

People fail to realize the Tao
Because they have deviant minds.
Deviance in the mind
Means the spirit is alarmed.

Spirit alarmed,
There is clinging to things.
Clinging to things,
There is searching and coveting.

Searching and coveting,
There are passions and afflictions.
Passions, afflictions, deviance, and imaginings
Trouble and pester mind and body.

Then one falls into turbidity and shame,
Ups and downs, life and death.
Forever immersed in the sea of misery,
One is in eternity lost to the true Tao.

The Tao of true permanence
Will naturally come to those who understand.
Those who understand the realization of the Tao
Will rest forever in the pure and tranquil.


By Seng Ts'an,

Third Patriarch of Ch'an

The Supreme Way is not difficult

If only you do not pick and choose.

Neither love nor hate,

And you will clearly understand.

Be off by a hair,

And you are as far apart as heaven from earth.

If you want it to appear,

Be neither for nor against.

For and against opposing each other --

This is the mind's disease.

Without recognising the mysterious principle

It is useless to practice quietude.


The Way is perfect like great space,

Without lack, without excess.

Because of grasping and rejecting,

You cannot attain it.

Do not pursue conditioned existence;

Do not abide in acceptance of emptiness.

In oneness and equality,

Confusion vanishes of itself.

Stop activity and return to stillness,

And that stillness will be even more active.

Only stagnating in duality,

How can you recognise oneness?


If you fail to penetrate oneness,

Both places lose their function.

Banish existence and you fall into existence;

Follow emptiness and you turn your back on it.

Excessive talking and thinking

Turn you from harmony with the Way.

Cut off talking and thinking,

And there is nowhere you cannot penetrate.

Return to the root and attain the principle;

Pursue illumination and you lose it.

One moment of reversing the light

Is greater than the previous emptiness.

The previous emptiness is transformed;

It was all a product of deluded views.

No need to seek the real;

Just extinguish your views.


Do not abide in dualistic views;

take care not to seek after them.

As soon as there is right and wrong

The mind is scattered and lost.

Two comes from one,

Yet do not even keep the one.

When one mind does not arise,

Myriad dharmas are without defect.

Without defect, without dharmas,

No arising, no mind.

The subject is extinguished with the object.

The object sinks away with the subject.

Object is object because of the subject;

Subject is subject because of the object.

Know that the two

Are originally one emptiness.

In one emptiness the two are the same,

Containing all phenomena.

Not seeing fine or coarse,

How can there be any bias?


The Great Way is broad,

Neither easy nor difficult.

With narrow views and doubts,

Haste will slow you down.

Attach to it and you lose the measure;

The mind will enter a deviant path.

Let it go and be spontaneous,

Experience no going or staying.


Accord with your nature, unite with the Way,

Wander at ease, without vexation.

Bound by thoughts, you depart from the real;

And sinking into a stupor is as bad.

It is not good to weary the spirit.

Why alternate between aversion and affection?


If you wish to enter the one vehicle,

Do not be repelled by the sense realm.

With no aversion to the sense realm,

You become one wit true enlightenment.

The wise have no motives;

Fools put themselves in bondage.

One dharma is not different from another.

The deluded mind clings to whatever it desires.

Using mind to cultivate mind --

Is this not a great mistake?


The erring mind begets tranquillity and confusion;

In enlightenment there are no likes or dislikes.

The duality of all things

Issues from false discriminations.

A dream, an illusion, a flower in the sky --

How could they be worth grasping?

Gain and loss, right and wrong --

Discard them all at once.


If the eyes do not close in sleep,

All dreams will cease of themselves.

If the mind does not discriminate,

All dharmas are of one suchness.

The essence of one suchness is profound;

Unmoving, conditioned things are forgotten.

Contemplate all dharmas as equal,

And you return to things as they are.

When the subject disappears,

There can be no measuring or comparing.


Stop activity and there is no activity;

When activity stops, there is no rest.

Since two cannot be established,

How can there be one?

In the very ultimate,

Rules and standards do not exist.


Develop a mind of equanimity,

And all deeds are put to rest.

Anxious doubts are completely cleared.

Right faith is made upright.

Nothing lingers behind,

Nothing can be remembered.

Bright and empty, functioning naturally,

The mind does not exert itself.

It is not a place of thinking,

Difficult for reason and emotion to fathom.

In the Dharma Realm of true suchness,

There is no other, no self.


To accord with it is vitally important;

Only refer to "not-two."

In not-two all things are in unity;

Nothing is not included.

The wise throughout the ten directions

All enter this principle.

This principle is neither hurried nor slow --

One thought for ten thousand years.


Abiding nowhere yet everywhere,

The ten directions are right before you.

The smallest is the same as the largest

In the realm where delusion is cut off.

The largest is the same as the smallest;

No boundaries are visible.

Existence is precisely emptiness;

Emptiness is precisely existence.

If it is not like this,

Then you must not preserve it.


One is everything;

Everything is one.

If you can be like this,

Why worry about not finishing?

Faith and mind are not two;

Non-duality is faith in mind.


The path of words is cut off;

There is no past, no future, no present.

One of the great Taoist classics

The Supreme TAO is formless, yet It produces and nurtures all things.

The Supreme TAO has no desires, yet by Its power the Sun and Moon revolve in their orbits.

The Supreme TAO is nameless, yet It supports all things eternally.

I do not know its name but for title call It "TAO".

TAO manifests both the pure and the turbid, both as movement and stillness.

The Universe is Pure, our World is turbid.

The Universe moves, our World is still.

The light is pure, the dark is turbid.

The masculine is active, the feminine is passive.

Manifesting in Its Radical Essence, TAO flows even to the last of things, bringing forward The Universe and our World and all that belongs to them.

The pure is the cause of the turbid, and movement is the cause of stillness.

When people attain the power to transcend that which changes, abiding in purity and stillness, The Universe and our World are united in them.

The Inner Spirit of people loves purity, but the mind of people is often rebellious. The mind of people loves stillness, but the desires of people draw them into activity. When a person is constantly able to govern their desires, their mind becomes spontaneously still. When the mind is unclouded, the Inner Spirit is seen to be pure. Then, with certainty the desires will cease to come forward and the poisons will be eliminated and dissolved.

The reason people do not possess the ability to achieve this is because their minds are not clear and their desires are unrestrained.

Those who have the power to transcend their desires, looking within and contemplating mind, realizes that in mind, mind is not; looking without contemplating form, they realize that in form, form is not; looking at things still more remote and contemplating matter, they realize that in matter, matter is not.

When they have clearly thought about these three they perceive only a void, and when they contemplate the void, they realize that the void is also void and has become nothingness. The void having vanished into nothingness, they realize that the nothingness of nothing is also nothing, and when the nethermost nothingness is reached, there is truly to be found a deep and unchanging stillness.

In this profound stillness how can desires come forward? When desires can no longer come forward, there is essential and unchanging stillness.

Truth is essentially unchanging.

All things in The Universe and in our world are in essence unchanging.

The unfolding of a person's mind leads them to this unchanging truth.

In unchanging Stillness, unchanging Purity and Rest are found.

Those who attain Purity and Stillness enter into the Immutable TAO.

Having entered the Immutable TAO they are named Possessor of TAO.

Although they are named Possessor of TAO they know they do not possess it.

Only when they can transmute all living things can they be truly named Possessor of TAO.

Those who are able to understand this can lead others to Sacred TAO.

By Ko Hsuan.