The Identity of Relative and Absolute

The mind of the Great Sage of India is intimately conveyed from West to East.
Among human beings are wise ones and fools,
But in the Way there is no northern and southern Ancestor.
The subtle source is clear and bright;
the tributary streams flow through the darkness.
To be attached to things is illusion;
to encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment.
Each and all the subjective and objective spheres are related,
and at the same time independent.
Related, yet working differently.
Though each keeps its own place,
form makes the character and appearance different.
Sounds distinguish comfort and discomfort.
The dark makes all words one;
brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases.
The four elements return to their natures as a child to its mother.
Fire is hot, wind moves, water is wet, earth hard.
Eyes see, ears hear, nose smells, tongue tastes the salt and sour.
Each is independent of the other.
Cause and effect must return to the great reality.
The words high and low are used relatively.
Within light there is darkness,
but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value
and is related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative,
like two arrows meeting in mid air.
Reading words you should grasp the great reality.
Do not judge by any standards.
If you do not see the Way, you do not see it even as you walk on it.
When you walk the Way, it is not near, it is not far.
If you are deluded, you are mountains and rivers away from it
I respectfully say to those who wish to be enlightened:
Do not waste your time by night or day!

Shitou Xiqian


9 Responses

  1. Hahahha.. good, very good.
    It sounds like:
    “The eye reacheth it not, language reacheth it not, nor does thought reach to it at all; verily, we know not nor can we say how one should teach it; different from the known, it is beyond the unknown.

    Thus have we heard from the men of olden times, for they taught it to us.”

    Would you allow me to try 🙂 … in simple zee words…

    No space!
    Then space of I.
    Space does not know the space
    Wind moves through air
    I AM
    Wind moves and the fire burns the air.
    Rain falls down.
    Water cools down
    I AM
    Air moves through wind
    The space knows the space
    I Space
    No space!

  2. Am I talking nonsense, then? Think: is not seeing perceiving, and is not sight perception?


    And if our recent definition holds, every man knows that which he has seen?


    And you would admit that there is such a thing as memory?


    And is memory of something or of nothing?

    Of something, surely.

    Of things learned and perceived, that is?


    Often a man remembers that which he has seen?


    And if he closed his eyes, would he forget?

    Who, would dare to say so?

    But we must say so, if the previous argument is to be maintained.

    What do you mean? I am not quite sure that I understand you, though I have a strong suspicion that you are right.

    As thus: he who sees knows, as we say, that which he sees; for perception and sight and knowledge are admitted to be the same.


    But he who saw, and has knowledge of that which he saw, remembers, when he closes his eyes, that which he no longer sees.


    And seeing is knowing, and therefore not-seeing is not-knowing?

    ???? 🙂

  3. Nice work, Zee. We’ll call your poem, “Do not judge by any standards.”

    Mine will be, “Ordinary life fits the absolute”:

    Water cools down. Vegetables.
    Rain falls down. Animals.
    Wind moves and the fire burns the air. Humans.
    I AM. I AM.
    Wind moves through air. Air moves through wind.
    The space knows the space. Space does not know the space.
    Then space of I. I Space.
    No space!
    No space!

  4. When you are imprisoned in a well and the self-assured adversary closes one of your eyes with his hand, and asks whether you can see his cloak with the eye which he has closed, how will you answer?

    I should answer, “Not with that eye but with the other.”

    Then you see and do not see the same thing at the same time.

  5. Space, earth, vegetables
    The space knows the space. No space!
    Vegetables, earth, space

    Happy Valentines Day, you two.

  6. Happy Valentine!!!

  7. Hi Karen
    The harmony of difference and equality chant. This chant is recited in morning service every Saturday at Zen Center. Surprisingly, it was one of the first that I was able to memorize, so that I can chant it without reading it. I can visualize the words, which help.

  8. Did you learn it in English, Arturo? I was just at a retreat yesterday, and at my current zendo we do all the chanting in Japanese or Chinese. I prefer Korean or Sanskrit, and English is always nice! 🙂

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