One Essence

"The brief text in this book represents my best summation of the nondual teachings."
Robert Wolfe

On The Hsin Hsin Ming

One Essence is a modern commentary on the nondual teachings of a classical Zen/Taoist text.

It is also a collection of Zen wisdom and poetry, containing the 67 stanzas of the Hsin Hsin Ming (with multiple alternative translations), plus many other succinct spiritual verses from ancient and contemporary sources.

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From Chapter 1, The Way

The Tao is self-evident
To those who live in choiceless awareness.

When you perceive everything objectively,
Your path is clear and unobstructed.

Thus begin the verses of the Hsin Hsin Ming. Or, at least, thus begins this version of the translation of it. Like the Dao de jing (known in previous years as the Tao te Ching), this classic spiritual scripture has undergone many translations over the centuries. Consequently, the interpretation of its original wording has varied in each rendition. But the central, emphatic message remains consistently clear throughout its text: the importance and value of comprehending the nondual perspective.

The word Tao (or Dao) basically means Way, in the sense of a direction, or passage, or opening. We might say that to pass through the transcendental opening is to embrace the Tao, to find one’s unencumbered way in this life on earth. In Buddhism, this path is said to lead us to encounter the “gateless gate,” the point at which the disciple experiences no obstructions.

Most often, in the translations of this Zen text, the opening words are given as the Great Way, or Supreme or Perfect Way, in the sense of “ultimate,” or transcendent or Absolute. An alternate usage for Way or Tao is Mind (or Buddha Mind), again a reference to the universal or absolute Presence which knows no limitation.

Hsin, in the poem’s title, indicates (in one sense of its usage) Mind, as a formless Presence which is the source of all being. As used in a second sense, Hsin also refers to an awareness of this ubiquitous Presence, to the extent of realizing one’s identity with it, thus generating a complete trust in the omnipresent Mind. In the trust of this Mind, there is no separation from it, no dissimilarity: Hsin Hsin.

Ming is a “treatise,” a teaching; in this case, in a versified format similar to the Dao de jing or the Sermon on the Mount. So the title of the Hsin Hsin Ming has been translated variously as (for instance) Affirming the Buddha-Mind, or The Mind of Absolute Trust.

Let’s look at the second stanza; consider the origin of the poem; and then explore these initial admonitions in greater depth. ...


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Free download of the story of the last days of the Buddha, "In Death as in Life".
The verses of the Hsin Hsin Ming in a Modern Chant (thanks to Stan Hunter).