Hongzhi

‘In daytime the sun, at night the moon, each in turn does not blind the other. This is how a patch-robed monk steadily practices, naturally without edges or seams. To gain such steadiness you must completely withdraw from the invisible pounding and weaving of your ingrained ideas. If you want to be rid of this invisible turmoil, you must sit through it and let go of everything. Attain fulfillment and illuminate thoroughly, light and shadow altogether forgotten. Drop off your own skin, and the sense-dusts will be fully purified, the eye readily discerning the brightness. Accept your function, and be wholly satisfied. In the entire place you are not restricted; the whole time you still mutually respond. Right in light there is darkness; right in darkness there is light. A solitary boat carries the moon; at night it lodges amid the reed flowers, gently swaying in total brilliance.’ (Cultivating the Empty Field)

When I first read Hongzhi, early in my practice, I did not take to him much – I think the allusively poetic nature of his words lacked the exhortatory push I appreciated in other zen writings. Looking at it now, I notice how his words foreshadow Dogen, who came a hundred years after him, as well as echoing Sekito Kisen, who lived a couple of centuries before

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