The Song of Zazen

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The Song of Zazen

The holidays, the election, and the uncertainty ahead have many of us worried and out of sorts: I know no better way to return to the center and maintain serenity than meditation. In my case it takes the form of Zazen – “sitting meditation” – and below is a beautiful paean for this practice from an ancient Zen Master. My suggestion is to sit with this quietly, don’t try to understand the literal meaning, just sit, be still, and trust your heart-mind. Imagine if all the world did THIS!

Zazen Wasan
The Song of Zazen
by Hakuin Ekaku Zenji


Sentient being are primarily all Buddhas.
It is like ice and water,
Apart from water no ice can exist;
Outside sentient beings, where do we find the Buddhas?

Not knowing how near the Truth is,
We seek it far away—what a pity!
We are like a man who, in the midst of water,
Cries in thirst so imploringly;
We are like the son of a rich man
Who wandered away among the poor.

The reason why we transmigrate through the six worlds
Is that we are lost in the darkness of ignorance;
Going astray further and further in the darkness,
When are we able to be free from birth-and-death?

As for Zazen practice in the Mahayana,
We have no words to praise it fully.
The virtues of perfection such as charity, morality,
And the invocation of the Buddha’s name,
Confession, and ascetic discipline,
And many other good deeds of merit—
All these return into THIS!
Even those who have practiced it for just one sitting
Will see all their evil karma erased;
Nowhere will they find evil paths,
But the Pure Land will be near at hand.

With a reverential heart, if we listen to this Truth even once
And praise it, and gladly embrace it,
We will surely be blessed most infinitely.
But, if we concentrate within,
And testify to the truth that Self-Nature is no-nature,
We have really gone beyond foolish talk.

The gate of the oneness of cause and effect is opened;
The path of non-duality and non-trinity runs straight ahead.

To regard the form of no-form as form,
Whether going or returning, we cannot be any place else;
To regard the thought of no-thought as thought,
Whether singing or dancing, we are the voice of the Dharma.

How boundless the cleared sky of Samadhi!
How transparent the perfect moonlight of the Fourfold Wisdom!

At this moment what more need we seek?
As the Truth eternally reveals itself,
This very place is the Lotus Land of Purity,
This very body is the Body of the Buddha.

By | 2017-01-05T15:20:41+00:00 January 5th, 2017|Expect Nothing, Quotes|0 Comments

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