Buddha Verse


A Webpage for Buddhist Writings Translated by Gregory Wonderwheel

© 2007-2008-2009-2012





            Thus have I heard.  The noble Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, at the time of flowing in the course of profound Transcending Wisdom, saw the world encompassing view, saw the emptiness of each of the five branches of being, and allayed every suffering. 

            Here Sariputra! Form is emptiness; emptiness itself is form; form is not other than emptiness; emptiness is not other than form; form exactly is emptiness; emptiness, exactly is form. Sensations, perceptions, complexes, and consciousness are likewise also like this.

            Sariputra!  This is the various things’ characteristics of emptiness: they are not born, are not extinguished, are not stained, are not pure, do not increase, do not decrease.

            Because of this, within emptiness there are no forms, no sensations, perceptions, complexes, consciousness; no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, cognition; no forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, things; no eye realm coming to no cognitive-consciousness realm; no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, coming to no ageing and dying, no extinction of ageing and dying; no suffering, cause, extinction, path; no higher-knowledge likewise no attaining.

            Because there is nowhere to attain, bodhisattvas rely on Transcending Wisdom, and therefore the heart is without hindrance. Because there is no hindrance there is no existing fright, and they go far away from topsy-turvy dream conceptions to ultimate Nirvana.

            In the three times, the various Buddhas rely on Transcending Wisdom and therefore gain unsurpassed complete perfect enlightenment.

            Therefore know Transcending Wisdom is the great sacred mantra, is the great brilliant mantra, is the unsurpassed mantra, is the unmatched mantra, and able to eliminate every suffering.  True reality does not deceive.

            Therefore he articulated the Transcending Wisdom mantra, exactly articulating the manta declaring:

 “Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, enlightened, amen.”

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi, svaha.”

   Wisdom Heart Sutra.




The Third Ancestor Great Master Sengcan’s

Inscription on Faith in Mind



By Jianzhi Sengcan, "The 3rd Ancestor" of Chinese Zen (d. 606 C.E)

Translated by Gregory Wonderwheel


[Note: Line numbers are inserted for ease of comparing translations.]


Inscription on Faith in Mind


Reaching the Way is without difficulty, only refrain from picking and choosing.

Merely do not hate or love, and penetrate like this to realization.

With one-thousandth of a hairsbreadth there is discrepancy, and heaven and earth hang divided.

Desiring to attain the manifest in front (of you), do not live by going along with or opposing.

To defy or to go along with is a reciprocal struggle and is a disease of the acting mind.

Not knowing the profound purpose, one labors in vain thinking of tranquility.

In complete equality and vast emptiness, there is no lack, there is no excess.

“The Good” causes taking hold and casting away; that which “uses” is not Suchness.

Do not pursue the whence of existence; do not dwell in enduring emptiness.

[10] Embrace even oneness, and submerging like this the self is exhausted.

Stopping moving comes back to stopping; (such) stopping still is filled with moving.

Only by blocking both sides, would you rather know oneness.

When oneness is not passed through, the paired positions lose merit.

To banish existence is to drown in existence; to accord with emptiness is to betray emptiness.

The many words and many strategies spin around irrelevantly.

By cutting off words and cutting off strategies, there is no place that is not passed through.

Returning to the root gains the purpose; following after the light loses the lineage.

Instantly turn around the light, then victory and retreat are the primary emptiness.

The transformations of primary emptiness are all because of false views.

[20] Do no employ seeking for truth; it’s only necessary to put an end to views.

Do not dwell in dualistic views; scrupulously do not pursue or search for them.

The first time there exists right and wrong, just like that the heart-mind is lost in entanglements.

The two exist because of the One; and likewise do not guard the One.

The One Mind is not born; the ten thousand things are without fault.

Without fault, without things, it is not born, it is not mind

When power follows the environment it is extinguished; when the environment pursues power it is submerged.

Environment is the environment because of power; power is power because of the environment.

Desiring to know both parts, their origin is the emptiness of the One.

The emptiness of the One is the same as both; equally containing the ten thousand outward appearances.

[30] Do not view fine or coarse, or would you rather have one-sided associations?

The essence of the Great Way is broad, without ease and without difficulty.

The fox doubts of small views spin quickly and spin slowly.

The seizing of immoderation necessarily enters the evil paths.

Letting go of the self’s autonomy, the essence is without going or staying.

Allow the nature to unite with the Way, and ramble carefree cutting off vexations.

Knotted thoughts oppose the True and dully sink into the not good.

When “not good” belabors the spirit, what use are “unfamiliar” and “intimate”?

If you desire to take hold of the One Vehicle (Ekayana), do not despise the six dusts. 

The six dusts are not despicable and, besides, are identical with right awakening.

[40] Those who are wise are non-doing; monkey-minded people are tied up by themselves.

The Dharma is without an opposing Dharma; the false self loves attachments.

To use the mind by commanding the mind, how can it not be a great mistake?

Delusion gives birth to stillness and chaos; awakening is without good and evil.

With two sides to everything, the false self deliberates.

Dreams and illusions, flowers in the sky; why labor to grasp them?

Gain and loss, right and wrong, in one moment release them and withdraw.

If the eyes are not asleep, the various dreams are by themselves wiped away.

If mind does not discriminate, the ten thousand things are One Suchness.

In the profound essence of One Suchness, you look ignorant and forget the secondary causes.

[50] The insight, that the ten thousand things are equal, returns to and restores autonomy.

By putting an end to that which “uses,” it is not possible to go in the direction of comparisons.

In stopping moving there is no moving; in moving stopping there is no stopping.

Pairs are de facto not complete; the One, how does that exist?

Finally impoverished to the utmost, do not live by by tracks and rules.

The harmonious mind is equality, where contrivances all cease.

With fox doubts entirely purified, right faith harmonizes directly.

When everything does not remain, there is no ability to remember.

The clear light shines by itself and does not belabor the mind’s strength.

Do not consider the amount or the place; consciousness and feelings are difficult to measure.

[60] In the Dharma Realm of True Suchness, there is no other and there is no self.

When it is vital to quickly be relevant, only speak the non-dual.

In the non-dual all is the same, without exclusion.

In the ten directions, those who are wise all enter this lineage.

The lineage does not hurry or delay for a single moment or ten thousand years.

Without being present or absent, the ten directions are in front of the eyes.

The utmost small is the same as the great, so forget cutting off the bounded realms.

The utmost great is the same as the small, so do not view outside of the borders.

Existence is exactly nonexistence; nonexistence is exactly existence.

If this is not Suchness, necessarily it does not need to be guarded.

[70] One is exactly everything; everything is exactly One.

When only capable Suchness is, what concerns are not concluded?

Faith in mind is non-dual; non-dual is faith in mind.

In spoken language the Way is cut off; it is neither the gone, nor the coming, nor the present.










By  Shitou Xiqian (Shih-t’ou Hsi-ch’ien, J. Sekito Kisen)

(b.700 - d.790)


The mind of the great sage of the land of India

            has been intimately and mutually handed down from west to east.

A person's roots are sharp or dull;

            the Way has no Northern or Southern ancestors.

The mysterious source is shining and clean in the light;

the branching streams are flowing and pouring in the dark.

Grasping at primary phenomena is bewilderment;

            agreeing with Principle is still not enlightenment.

Each and every gate corresponds to circumstances,

            revolving with each other and not revolving with each other.

Revolving and alternating are mutually entangled,

            they do not rely on remaining in place.

The root of form is distinguished by substance and appearance;

            the primal sound is differentiated as joyful or painful.

High and middle words unite in the dark,

            clean and dirty sentences, in the brightness.

The four great elements return to their natures

            like a child to its mother.

The heat of the fire; the waving of the wind;

            the wet of the water; the solidity of the earth.

The colors of the eye; the sounds of the ear;

            the fragrances of the nose; the salt and sour of the tongue.

This is the way with each and every thing;

            according to the roots the leaves separate and spread out.

Roots and branches necessarily return to the ancestral origin;

            venerated and vulgar, these are used in speech.

Right in the middle of the light there is dark;

            don’t use the mutuality of darkness to meet it.

Right in the middle of the dark there is light;

            don’t use the mutuality of the light to see it.

Light and dark are mutual polarities,

            for example, like front and back steps.

The ten thousand things naturally have their function,

            and are regarded in the use and placement of words.

Phenomena exist like the joining of a box and lid.

            Principle responds like the support of the sharp point of an arrow.

In receiving words you should meet the ancestors,

            and not establish rules by yourself.

If your contacting eye does not meet the Way,

            how do you know the path by using your feet?

Progress is not near or far;

            bewilderment causes the distance from mountains and rivers.

Sincerely, I say to people who meet the profound depths,

            from brightness and shadow, there are none crossed over in vain.




-- 艸庵歌 Caoan Ge  (J. Soanka)


By  Shitou Xiqian (Shih-t’ou Hsi-ch’ien, J. Sekito Kisen)

(b.700 - d.790)


I tied up the straw thatched hut without precious objects.

With the cooked rice finished, I followed the aim of appearances and soon slept.

As the first season was accomplished, I saw the thatch was new.

Later when it is worn out, I will repay my debt and reconstruct the thatch.


The resident hermit -- subdues permanent residency,

And does not categorize the middle space with inside or outside.

A worldly person resides in a place; I do not reside.

A worldly person has affection for a place; I do not have affection.


Although the thatched hut is small -- it contains the Dharma-realm (Dharmadhatu).

In a square ten feet, an old man studies liberation of the essential body.

A bodhisattva of the Supreme Vehicle trusts without doubt.

The middle and inferior hear it and surely give rise to (a sense of) strangeness.


Asking about this thatched hut -- poor or not poor?

Poor and not poor: the original master is present.

Not dwelling south or north and east or west

A foundation on top of "the firm and stable" therefore becomes superlative.


Green pines below -- light inside of the window.

The Jade Palace (of Heaven) and the Vermilion Tower (of Hell) do not compare.

With a patched cape covering the head, the 10,000 affairs come to rest.

Here and now, this mountain monk already does not meet (anyone).


Residing in this thatched hut -- ceasing to work on liberation.

Who boastfully spreads out a mat aiming for customers?

Revolve the light and turn back your illumination, then you come back to the origin point,

Breaking through to the boundless root of the spirit, you do not face backwards.


Meet the ancestral masters -- be intimate with the teachings.

Tie straw for a thatched hut; do not create backsliding.

Abandon your 100 years (of lifespan), yet be alive vertically and sideways.

Wave a hand, then do, just without doing wrong.


One thousand kinds of words -- ten thousand categories of liberation,

Are only necessary not to obscure the teaching for long.

If you desire to know the undying person inside the thatched hut,

How is it free from and yet right now covered by the skin bag?



Inscription of Silent Illumination

Mo Zhao Ming


By Zen Master Hongzhi Zhengjue of Tiantong (1091-1157)


In silent silence, forgetting speech.

In bright brightness, appearing in front.

When reflecting, wide open.

Where embodying, numinous.


The solitary illumination of the numinous

Illuminates within and returns to the wondrous.

The moon in the dew, the starry river,

The snowy pine, the cloudy mountain peak.


In the dark yet universally bright.

In hiding yet all the more evident.

The crane dreams the cold of mist.

The water contains the depth of autumn


The vast kalpas are empty emptiness

Appearances are all together identical.

The wondrous is preserved at the place of silence

Achievement is forgotten within illumination


What is preserved to preserve the wondrous?

Wide awake breaks up confusion.

The path of silent illumination,

The root of freedom from minutiae.


The unobstructed view is free from minutiae,

The gold shuttle, the jade loom.

The straight and the biased revolve,

The bright and dim are causally dependent.


Depending on nothing is the location of capability.

When at the foundation, turning around mutually.

Drinking the medicine of good views,

Beating the drum smeared with poison.


Turning around mutually when at the foundation

Killing or saving life is on us.

From inside the gate emerges the body;

The tip of the branch bears the fruit.


When only silence is the perfect speech,

When only illumination is the universal response,

Response does not fall into achievement.

Speech does not involve listening.


The 10,000 phenomena infinitely connected together

Shine freely and articulate the Dharma

All that proving clearly.

Each and every one questioning and answering.


Questioning and answering, proving clearly,

Precisely mutually responding.

If within illumination you lose silence,

Immediately you see aggressiveness.


Proving clearly, questioning and answering,

Mutually responding precisely.

If within silence you lose illumination

The muddiness becomes remaining things (dharmas).


The principle of silent illumination complete,

The lotus opens, the dream awakens.

The hundred rivers go into the sea.

The thousand summits face the highest peak.


Like the goose choosing the milk,

Like the bee picking the flowers.

The reaching and attaining of silent illumination

Conveys our family of the [Zen] lineage.


The silent illumination of the family of the [Zen] lineage,

Penetrates to the top, penetrates to the foundation.

The body of emptiness,

The arms of the mudra. 


The one important event from start to finish,

By the manner of transformation is 10,000 differences.

Huo Shi presented an unpolished gem

Xiangru pointed out the flaw.


To suit the capacities [of people] there are standards.

The great function does not strive.

Within the palace walls, the Son of Heaven.

Outside of the barriers, the General.


The foundation and affair of our family:

Within the compass, within the carpenter’s square.

Transmit it going in every direction.

It is not important to earn praise.












By Hakuin Ekaku Zenji

(b. 12/25/1685 - d. 1/18/1769)


Living beings originally are Buddha.

            It is the same with water and ice.

There is no ice separate from water;

Outside of living beings, no Buddha.

Because living beings are unconscious of the intimate,

            They seek it far away. Alas how pitiful!

It is like the examples of someone sitting in the middle of water

            But crying out in thirst; and,

While still being the son of a millionaire's family,

As a strange good-for-nothing he loses his way in the countryside living in poverty.

The causes and conditions of the revolving wheel of the six appearances

            Are but one's own road through the darkness of ignorance;

Walking down dark roads to dark roads,

            Someday you should abandon birth and death.

As to the zen meditation (dhyana-samadhi) of the Mahayana, 

            There is just too much to praise.

The several perfections such as charity, morality, and such;

            Chanting Buddha's name, confession and repentance, austerities, and the like;

The many good deeds and various virtuous pilgrimages;

All these are coming from within it.

Also, a person succeeds by the merit of a single sitting

            To destroy one's immeasurably accumulated crimes.

Where then should the evil appearances exist?

The Pure Land is then not far away.

One, who by this Dharma graciously

            Has the occasion to hear it announced even one time,

Who is a person extolling it with deep gratitude,

Receives supreme blessings without limits.

Much more, to personally turn around to face inward and,

            In that case, directly confirm by one's own nature,

That here, one's own nature is neither more nor less than no-nature.

            And afterwards leave off from silly debate;

Then opens the gate of the oneness of cause and effect;

The Way of not-two and not-three is straightened.

When form is the form of non-form,

            One's going and one's returning are not someplace else.

When thought is the thought of no-thought,

            One's singing and one's dancing are the voice of Dharma.

The sky of boundless Samadhi is wide!

            The moon of the Four Wisdoms' round brilliance is transparent!

At this time what more should you want?

            Consequently, Nirvana appears before you.

This place is neither more nor less than the Lotus Country.

As it is, this body is neither more nor less than the Buddha.



Notes on Translations of the Verses on this page:

Great Transcending Wisdom Heart Sutra 

For translation notes on the Heart Sutra see Heart Sutra Page

The Third Ancestor Great Master Sengcan’s Inscription on Faith in Mind

Notes and translation comments on Faith in Mind Page.

An Agreement for Participating Together

For translation notes and variations see An Agreement for Participating Together Page

Ode to Sitting Meditation

For my (work in progress) commentary on Hakuin’s “Ode to Sitting Meditation” and various translations see Zazen Wasen Page 

Prose Translations:

Bodhidharma's "Outline of Four Practices and Contemplation"


Koan Collection Translations:

For my translation of the Wumen Guan see “The Gateless Checkpoint” page.

For my translation (work in progress) of the Bìyán Lù see The Blue Cliff Record page.

Index of Gregory's Buddhist Writings

Gregory’s blog: Turning the Wheel of Wonder


Links to: Top of Page  |  Wildrose Home Page  |  Gregory's Page  |

This page last edited August 18, 2013.