The Song of Zazen

By Hakuin Ekaku Zenji

All sentient beings are essentially Buddhas.
As with water and ice, there is no ice without water;
Apart from sentient beings, there are no Buddhas.
Not knowing how close the Truth is,
We seek it far away – what a pity!
We are like one who in the midst of water
Cries out desperately in thirst.
We are like the son of a rich man who wandered away among the poor.
The reason we transmigrate through the Six Realms
Is because we are lost in ignorance.
Going further and further astray in the darkness,
How can we ever be free from birth-and-death?
As for the Mahayana practice of zazen,
There are no words to praise it fully.
The Six Paramitas, such as giving, maintaining the precepts,
And various other good deeds like invoking the Buddha’s name,
Repentance, and spiritual practice, all finally return to the practice of zazen.
Even those who have sat zazen only once will see all karma erased.
Nowhere will they find evil paths, and the Pure Land will not be far away.
If we listen even once with an open heart to this truth,
Then praise it and gladly embrace it,
How much more so then, if on reflecting within ourselves,
We directly realize Self-nature, giving proof to the truth that Self-nature is no-nature.
We will have gone far beyond idle speculation.
The gate of the oneness of cause and effect is thereby opened,
And not-two, not-three, straight ahead runs the Way.
Realizing the form of no-form as form,
Whether going or returning we cannot be any place else.
Realizing the thought of no-thought as thought,
Whether singing or dancing, we are the voice of the Dharma.
How vast and wide the unobstructed sky of samadhi!
How bright and clear the perfect moonlight of the Fourfold Wisdom,
At this moment what more need we seek?
As the eternal tranquility of Truth reveals itself to us,
This place is the land of lotuses and
This very body is the body of the Buddha.