VERSES FOR THE FIFTH PATRIARCH OF CHAN

by phillipmedhurst

SHEN-HSIU:

This body is the Bodhi-tree,

This heart-mind is a mirror, bright.

So strive always to keep them free,

Not letting any dust alight.

HUI-NENG:

The mind it is that’s like that tree,

The body like a mirror-stand;

But all around there’s nought to see:

From where to what should dust then land?

 

From these verses the Patriarch ascertained that Shen-hsiu had reached the Gate of Wisdom, but that Hui-neng had passed through it.

 

Rendered into English verse-form by Phillip Medhurst.