Guidepost for the Hall of Pure Bliss by Hongzhi

By seeking appearance and sound one cannot truly find the Way.

The deep source of realisation comes with constancy, bliss, self, and purity.

Its purity is constant, its bliss is myself.

The two are mutually dependent, like firewood and fire.

The self’s bliss is not exhausted, constant purity has no end.

Deep existence is beyond forms, wisdom illuminates the inside of the circle.

Inside the circle the self vanishes, neither existent nor nonexistent.

Intimately conveying spiritual energy, it subtly turns the mysterious pivot.

When the mysterious pivot finds opportunity to turn, the original light auspiciously appears.

When the mind’s conditioning has not yet sprouted, how can words and images be distinguished?

Who is it that can distinguish them? Clearly understand and know by yourself.

Whole and inclusive with inherent insight, it’s not concerned with discriminative thought.

The Buddha Shakyamuni, Five Past Buddhas, and Maitreya. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Buddha Shakyamuni, Five Past Buddhas, and Maitreya. Tibet, ca. 15th century, Wood with red pigment, gold, and ink. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

When discriminating thought is not involved, it’s like white reed flowers shining in the snow.

One beam of light’s gleam permeates the vastness.

The gleam permeates through all directions, from the beginning not covered or concealed.

Catching the opportunity to emerge, amid transformations it flourishes.

Following appropriately amid transformations, the pure bliss is unchanged.

Sky encompasses it, ocean seals it, every moment without deficiency.

In the achievement without deficiency, inside and outside are interfused.

All dharmas transcend their limits, all gates are wide open.

Through the open gates are the byways of playful wandering.

Dropping off senses and sense objects is like the flowers of our gazing and listening falling away.

Gazing and listening are only distant conditions of thousands of hands and eyes.

The others die from being too busy, but I maintain continuity.

In the wonder of continuity are no traces of subtle identifications.

Within purity is bliss, within silence is illumination.

The house of silent illumination is the hall of pure bliss.

Dwelling in peace and forgetting hardship, let go of adornments and become genuine.

The motto for becoming genuine: nothing is gained by speaking.

The goodness of Vimalakirti enters the gate of nonduality.


Cultivating the Empty FieldExtract from,  Cultivating the Empty Field. The Silent Illumination of Zen Master Hongzhi. Translated by Taigen Dan Leighton. ISBN: 9780804832403

Reproduced with many thanks to Tuttle.

Hongzhi—the twelfth-century Chinese Zen master who was predecessor of the famous philosopher Dogen—is celebrated in Zen literature as one of its most artistically graceful stylists. he was the first to articulate silent illumination, commonly known to Zen students as “just sitting.” Hongzhi’s influential teahing is presented in here as a timeless guide to spiritual awareness.

Taigen Daniel Leighton, a translator and teacher, is the author of Bodhisattva Archetypes: Classic Buddhist Guides to Awakening and Their Modern Expression, and is the translator of Dogen’s The Wholehearted Way. He teaches at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, the San Francisco Zen Center, and the Green Gulch Retreat Center, among other places.

Click here to read more teachings by Hongzhi Zhengjue.

Categories: Chan / Seon / Zen, Mahayana

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