A Nugget of Widsom (from Zen master Hakuin)
My intention with these blog posts is to share something that is current in my life which connects to creative awakening some how. Sometimes they focus more on my music or art, other times they focus on my spiritual practice and some insight I’ve had or maybe an issue I’m struggling with.
This week I wanted to do something different. In this post I wanted to share something that has been a huge inspiration for me as well as a point of focus for contemplation. What I want to share is one of the chants that is used in the Zen tradition. These chants are more than just a form of recitation that are supposed to be memorized and regurgitated; they are intended to be an extension of zazen (formal sitting meditation).
Some of the chants that are used in the Zen tradition are pretty musical and include drums and bells along with the voices. Others are more like spoken word poetry that the whole room is involved in. Both are unique and beautiful in their own ways. The one I wanted to share is more of the spoken word form and is called called “Zazen Wasan” or Master Hakuin’s chant in praise of zazen. Even if you don’t understand all the words in it I still feel that there is wisdom to be found just in reading through it.
From the very beginning All beings are Buddha. Like water and ice, Without water no ice, Outside us no Buddhas.
How near the truth
Yet how far we seek,
Like one in water crying “I thirst!” Like a child of rich birth Wandering poor on this earth,
We endlessly circle the six worlds.
The cause of our sorrow is ego-delusion
From dark path to dark path we’ve wandered in Darkness—
How can we be free from birth and death?
The gateway to freedom is zazen samadhi
Beyond exaltation, beyond all our praises,
The pure Mahayana.
Upholding the precepts, repentance and giving, The countless good deeds,
And the way of right living
all come from zazen.
Thus one true Samadhi extinguishes evils.
It purifies Karmas, dissolving obstructions
Then where are the dark paths to lead us astray?
The pure lotus land is not far away.
Hearing this truth, heart humble and grateful, to praise and embrace it,
to practice its wisdom,
brings unending blessings,
brings mountains of merit.
And when we turn inward and prove our True-nature— that True-self is no-self,
our own Self is no-self—
we go beyond ego and past clever words.
Then the gate to the oneness of cause and effect is thrown open.
Not two and not three, straight ahead runs the Way.
Our form now being no-form,
in going and returning we never leave home.
Our thought now being no-thought,
our dancing and songs are the voice of the Dharma.
How vast is the heaven of boundless samadhi!
How bright and transparent the moonlight of wisdom!
What is there outside us,
what is there we lack?
Nirvana is openly shown to our eyes.
This earth where we stand is the pure lotus land, and this very body—the body of Buddha.