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Sandokai: The Harmony of Difference and Equality

The 400-800 CE time frame in China is known as the middle phase of Chinese Chan development:

  1. Bodhidharma (達摩) c. 440 – c. 528

  2. Dazu Huike (慧可) 487–593

  3. Sengcan (僧燦) ?–606

  4. Dayi Daoxin (道信) 580–651

  5. Daman Hongren (弘忍) 601–674

  6. Huineng (惠能) 638–713

The Sandokai is the work of Master Sekito Kisen (in Chinese: Shítóu Xīqiān) who was born in southern China in 700 AD and died in 790 AD. Master Shitou was a student of Huineng and Qingyuan Xingsi (

The Sandokai was written by Shitou and is seen as summary (poem) of his life practice. It also speaks to the times in which he lived as it references the Northern and Southern, Schools of Chinese Buddhism described as slow and sudden enlightenment

Tuesday night we will celebrate living the chant:

The mind of the great sage of India is intimately transmitted from west to east. While human faculties are sharp or dull, the way has no northern or southern ancestors. The spiritual source shines clear in the light; the branching streams flow on in the dark. Grasping at things is surely delusion; according with sameness is still not enlightenment. All the objects of the senses interact and yet do not. Interacting brings involvement. Otherwise, each keeps its place. Sights vary in quality and form, sounds differ as pleasing or harsh. Refined and common speech come together in the dark, clear and murky phrases are distinguished in the light. The four elements return to their natures just as a child turns to its mother; Fire heats, wind moves, water wets, earth is solid. Eye and sights, ear and sounds, nose and smells, tongue and tastes; Thus with each and every thing, depending on these roots, the leaves spread forth. Trunk and branches share the essence; revered and common, each has its speech. In the light there is darkness, but don’t take it as dark; In the dark there is light, but don’t see it as light. Light and dark oppose one another like the front and back foot in walking. Each of the myriad things has its merit, expressed according to function and place. Phenomena exist; box and lid fit. principle responds; arrow points meet. Hearing the words, understand the meaning; don’t set up standards of your own. If you don’t understand the way right before you, how will you know the path as you walk? Progress is not a matter of far or near, but if you are confused, mountains and rivers block your way. I respectfully urge you who study the mystery, do not pass your days and nights in vain.

Inmo is the teachings through all time. Doubt is just a reminder. Absolute or real this coin is always flipping. All the senses are open and the opening is always whole. The way is right, with a interconnected sphere of me is also the universe, the experience is constant- being. If so, then how can merit sway. Being in/of the Way each moment is boundless...

108 Bows


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