Knoxville Community of Mindfulness

Teachings for Chanting & Reflection

The Five Remembrances 

The Buddha advised us not to hold a false or imaginary view of life but to embrace the true nature of our human experience. "When you deny the reality of life, you appreciate it less," says Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. "Meditate on the Buddha’s Five Remembrances and rediscover the magic of life just as it is.”

I am of the nature to grow old.  There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to become sick.  There is no way to escape becoming sick.

I am of the nature to die.  There is no way to escape death.

All that I hold dear, and everyone I love, is of the nature to change.  There is no way to escape being separated from them.

I inherit the results of my actions of body, speech, and mind.  My actions are the ground on which I stand.

 Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra 

The Heart Sutra, an ancient scripture from the Mahayana wisdom school of Buddhism, offers us insight into the nature of ultimate reality through intuitive wisdom. In Mahayana understanding, it is only through this intuitive wisdom that one can realize the true nature of the phenomenal world, let go of all clinging to it, and reach the "other shore" of liberation.

 --Mu Soeng, The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra

The Bodhisattva Avalokita,

while moving in the deep course of perfect understanding, 

shed light on the five skandhas and found them equally empty.

After this penetration, he overcame ill-being. 

Listen Shariputra,

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. 

Form is not other than emptiness, emptiness is not other than form. 

The same is true of feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

Listen Shariputra,

all dharmas are marked with emptiness. 

They are neither produced nor destroyed, 

neither defiled nor immaculate, 

neither increasing nor decreasing. 

Therefore in emptiness there is neither form nor feelings,

nor perceptions, nor mental formations, nor consciousness. 

No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. 

No form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, 

no object of mind. 

No realms of elements (from eyes to mind consciousness), 

no interdependent origins and no extinction of them 

(from ignorance to death and decay). 

No ill-being, no cause of ill being, no end of ill-being, 

and no path. 

No understanding and no attainment.

Because there is no attainment, 

the bodhisattvas, grounded in perfect understanding, 

find no obstacles for their minds. 

Having no obstacles, they overcome fear, liberating themselves forever from illusion and realizing perfect nirvana. 

All Buddhas in the past, present and future, 

thanks to this perfect understanding, 

arrive at full, right, and universal enlightenment.

Therefore one should know 

that perfect understanding is the highest mantra, 

the unequaled mantra, the destroyer of ill-being, 

the incorruptible truth. A mantra of prajnaparamita 

should therefore be proclaimed:

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha

 Verses on Trust in Mind 

Trust in Mind, an early Chinese poem, is one of the most beloved texts of the Zen tradition. It continues to inspire countless admirers with its intimations, intuitively perceived, of the nature of a life lived in freedom.

--Mu Soeng, Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen

The Great Way is not difficult

for those who do not pick and choose.

When preferences 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 flounder 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 seeing 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. 

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. 

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. 

Seek movement and there's no-movement, 

seek 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 confusions disappear,

and so true faith pervades our life.

There is no thing that clings to us,

and nothing that is left behind. 

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. 

Awakening 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. 

Just let go now of thinking 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 themselves in bondage put.

The One Way knows no differences,

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 flowers of air—

why work so hard at grasping them? 

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 separate,

and not separate are Mind and faith,

this is beyond all words, all thought. 

For here there is no yesterday,

no tomorrow,

no today.

Desktop Site