Affirming Faith in Mind (Xin Xin Ming)

This verse is attributed to the 6th century Chinese Zen Master Seng Can (pro. Sung Tsan)

Seng Can was the Third Chinese Patriarch of Chan (Zen) in China.

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The Rochester and Toronto Zen Centers, both from the lineage of Phillip Kapleau, use these verses as a chant, translated into English.

I have found this chant to be a wonderful road map to the secrets of the letting go of hindrances to the path of surrender to the Great Mind.

Audio Link:

Toronto Zen Center Chants – mp3 (the first in the list)

There are many many translations of Xin Xin Ming  (信心銘) extant.

D.T. Suzuki, one of the “fathers opening Zen Buddhism to the West”, has one of the most accepted translations from the original Chinese.



Following is the chant text if you wish to follow along with the chant (roughly 10 minutes long): (You can also download the PDF here: AFFIRMING FAITH IN MIND)

Affirming Faith in Mind

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who do not pick and choose.

When pref’rences are cast aside
the Way stands clear and undisguised.

But even slight distinctions made
set earth and heaven far apart.

If you would clearly see the truth,
discard opinions pro and con.

To founder in dislike and like
is nothing but the mind’s disease.

And not to see the Way’s deep truth
disturbs the mind’s essential peace.

The Way is perfect like vast space,
where there’s no lack and no excess.

Our choice to choose and to reject
prevents our see’ng this simple truth.

Both striving for the outer world
as well as for the inner void
condemn us to entangled lives.

Just calmly see that all is One
and by themselves false views will go.

Attempts to stop activity
will fill you with activity.

Remaining in duality,
you’ll never know of unity.

And not to know this unity
lets conflict lead you far astray.

When you assert that things are real
you miss their true reality.

But to assert that things are void
also misses reality.

The more you talk and think on this
the further from the truth you’ll be.

Cut off all useless thoughts and words
and there’s nowhere you cannot go.

Returning to the root itself,
you’ll find the meaning of all things.

If you pursue appearances
you overlook the primal source.

Awak’ning is to go beyond
both emptiness as well as form.

All changes in this empty world
seem real because of ignorance.

Do not go searching for the truth,
just let those fond opinions go.

Abide not in duality,
refrain from all pursuit of it.

If there’s a trace of right and wrong,
True-mind is lost, confused, distraught.

From One-mind comes duality,
but cling not even to this One.

When this One-mind rests undisturbed
then nothing in the world offends.

And when no thing can give offense,
then all obstructions cease to be.

If all thought-objects disappear
the thinking subject drops away.

For things are things because of mind,
as mind is mind because of things.

These two are merely relative
and both at source are Emptiness.

In Emptiness these are not two,
yet in each are contained all forms.

Once coarse and fine are seen no more,
then how can there be taking sides?

The Great Way is without limit,
beyond the easy and the hard.

But those who hold to narrow views
are fearful and irresolute;
their frantic haste just slows them down.

If you’re attached to anything,
you surely will go far astray.

Just let go now of clinging mind,
and all things are just as they are.
In essence nothing goes or stays.

See into the true self of things,
and you’re in step with the Great Way,
thus walking freely, undisturbed.

But live in bondage to your thoughts,
and you will be confused, unclear.
This heavy burden weighs you down—
so why keep judging good and bad?

If you would walk the highest Way,
do not reject the sense domain.

For as it is, whole and complete,
this sense world is enlightenment.

The wise do not strive after goals,
but fools place bonds upon themselves.

The One Way knows no diff’rences,
the foolish cling to this and that.

To see Great Mind with thinking mind
is certainly a grave mistake.

From small mind come rest and unrest,
but mind awakened transcends both.

Delusion spawns dualities—
these dreams are merely flow’rs of air—
why work so hard at grasping them?

Both gain and loss, and right and wrong—
once and for all get rid of them.

When you no longer are asleep,
all dreams will vanish by themselves.

If mind does not discriminate,
all things are as they are, as One.

To go to this mysterious Source
frees us from all entanglements.

When all is seen with “equal mind,”
to our Self-nature we return.

This single mind goes right beyond
all reasons and comparison.

Stop movement and there’s no movement,
Stop rest and no-rest comes instead.

When rest and no-rest cease to be,
then even oneness disappears.

This ultimate finality’s
beyond all laws, can’t be described.

With single mind one with the Way,
all ego-centered strivings cease;

Doubts and confusion disappear,
and so true faith pervades our life.

There is no thing that clings to us,
and nothing that is left behind.

All’s self-revealing, void and clear,
without exerting power of mind.

Thought cannot reach this state of truth,
here feelings are of no avail.

In this true world of Emptiness
both self and other are no more.

To enter this true empty world,
immediately affirm “not-two.”

In this “not-two” all is the same,
with nothing separate or outside.

The wise in all times and places
awaken to this primal truth.

The Way’s beyond all space, all time,
one instant is ten thousand years.

Not only here, not only there,
truth’s right before your very eyes.

Distinctions such as large and small
have relevance for you no more.

The largest is the smallest too—
here limitations have no place.

What is is not, what is not is
if this is not yet clear to you,
you’re still far from the inner truth.

One thing is all, all things are one—
know this and all’s whole and complete.

When faith and Mind are not sep’rate,
and not sep’rate are Mind and faith,
this is beyond all words, all thought

For here there is no yesterday,
no tomorrow,
no today.


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