Verses on the Mind of Faith (신심명)
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Verses on the Mind of Faith (信心銘; Xinxin ming)
Written by the Third Patriarch, Sengcan, Verses on the Mind of Faith is fondly recited at Seon temples. It is a rather short text, consisting of 148 phrases and 592 characters with four characters in each phrase. However, it is said to contain all the essentials of both the Seon and Doctrinal Schools. Verses on the Mind of Faith also espouses the Middle Way, a basic concept of Buddhism. As such it is recognized as one of the greatest records of Seon School, along with the Platform Sutra.
The heart of Verses on the Mind of Faith is the “Middle Way which is free from the two extremes.” It is a terse representation of the Middle Way and devoid of the relative concepts sentient beings hold in their daily lives; concepts such as love and hate, right and wrong, or like and dislike. Ven. Seongcheol referred to Xinxin ming as a “comprehensive exposition on the Middle Way” and praised the text by saying, “I marveled at how it expressed the Middle Way so simply and with such beautiful language, a concept the Buddha taught all his life.” Following is an excerpt from Xinxin ming.
The Supreme Way is not difficult
If only you do not discriminate.
When love and hate are both bereft,
You will clearly understand.
Make the smallest distinction,
And you are as far apart as heaven from earth.
If you wish to see the truth,
Hold no opinions for or against anything.
- excerpt from Buddhist English (Intermediate 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism