Heart of the Buddha

Oregon Coast

No need to chase back and forth like the waves.

The same water which ebbs is the same water that flows.

No point turning back to get water

When it’s flowing around you in all directions

The heart of the Buddha and the people of the world…

Where is there any difference?

~ Hsu Yun Heart of the Buddha

I’ve been sporadically reading a bit of Zen/Chan poetry lately. Some of it I dismiss fairly quickly. Quite a bit of it doesn’t speak to me, though I know the reasons for this are many (they’ve been written by wisdom, meant to be read with wisdom). But some of it takes you somewhere.

Heart of the Buddha is one of those poems that really shouted out to me, even though it was just a whisper. I like the water analogies used in Buddhism, as I think they are usually the most accurate descriptions of mind, dualism, and non-conceptual awareness one can use that people can easily relate to. This poem in particular opened up to me almost instantly. Here is what I found:

No need to chase… – chasing, grasping, reaching, swimming – none of these actions will help you to realize Buddha nature. Buddha nature is not something to be found while scuba diving on a treasure hunt.

…back and forth like the waves – this is samsara. The phenomenal world of dukkha leading us here then there then here then there. We’re all chasing. And we’re all swimming with the tide.

The same water that ebbs is the same water that flows – this line brought many thoughts to mind. The same ‘stuff’ that brings us pain is the same ‘stuff’ that brings us pleasure. Buddha nature is defilement, defilement is buddha nature. No samsara apart from nirvana. Water waters water.

No point turning back to get water – That which we are chasing we have already left behind. Seeking Buddha nature outside the self is like searching for a wave already crashed back into the ocean.

When it’s flowing around you in all directions – no self no buddha. Our deluded mind is creating all this samsara around us, when we are able to free our deluded mind, we can find the heart of buddha, which is all around us. But when we turn back and seek, it is again unreachable.

The heart of the Buddha and the people of the world… where is there any difference? – This is just the non-dual nature of reality. Again, no nirvana apart from samsara. Also I felt like this pointed at the 10th Ox Herding picture a little, in the idea of bringing Buddha nature back down into the marketplace, or back to be with “the people of the world”.

Just some thoughts of mine. Yours?




Filed under Buddhism

7 responses to “Heart of the Buddha

  1. Thank you for this wonderful poem (new to me) and for your clear-eyed reading of it. Happy new year!

  2. beautiful photo by the way.

    this is a lovely poem – i have never heard of it – so thankyou for sharing. I love the water and the image of grasping is very resonant for me – I feel like its all I do!!

  3. OH how beautiful! The same water that ebbs is the same water that flows. I had to write it out so I would remember it.

    So simple and yet it “pings!”

    Happy New Year, Adam!

  4. Wonderful. Wonderful way to start the year. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  5. Thank you all, and Happy New Year!

  6. Great poem…I really like Hsu Yun, and your break-down of its meaning seems spot on. Thanks. 🙂

  7. Thanx for the sharing — enjoyed it.
    For me, part of not getting a poem, is very simple:
    — my poet mind is weak
    — knowing the poet’s life sometimes helps
    — knowing a poet’s culture and history can help too
    Some poetry transcends this, of course. This one seems to.
    Thanx again. Happy New Year