Saturday, January 05, 2008

SANDOKAI (Harmony of Sameness and Difference)

I'm still here at the San Francisco Zen Center where I just participated in the Saturday morning service. Another round of Zazen starts in about 15 minutes and I'm going for it. But while I'm waiting I thought I'd share with you something they chant up here a whole lot, the "Harmony of Sameness and Difference" by Sekito Kisen (700-790). It's a very nice text. Shunryu Suzuki wrote about it in a book called Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness: Zen Talks on the Sandokai.

I don't got time to do any kind of commentary or nothin'. So here it is in its raw form. Enjoy.


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 darkness;
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.


daiji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DB said...

It may be a basic text, but this is my first exposure to it. Thanks for posting it. It kinda hits right between the eyes. I don't know what I think about it yet, but it sure sounds right.

Jinzang said...

It's funny that Buddhist monasteries have WiFi these days, just like Starbucks. No criticism of SFZC intended, the Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick has WiFi too. I asked Khenchen Konchog a question about finding the time to practice and he mentioned a man he saw in the airport carrying two cell phones, an Ipod, and a laptop. Most of the lamas have cell phones today and we had fun last week beaming info from Drupon's Treo to my Palm and back.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great that monasteries have WiFi. Why not?
Shunryu's book on the Sandokai is great and it breaks down the poem line for line in an easy way to understand. It is a beautiful poem and we chant it every Saturday down here in the Houston Zen Center. Unfortunately, we don't have WiFi. ;-P

Anonymous said...

I've read "Branching Streams..." I think it's a good read.

Crooked Cabbage said...


Gerald Ford said...

Quite lovely. I take it that this predates Zen as we know it right? Does this come from China, or was it written in Japan?

Arturo said...

Hi Brad
I thought I recognized you on Saturday and wanted to say hi during work circle, but I said to myself, if it is Brad, why does he have wider sideburns, (as if that would cancel out the possibility of that person being you) - so anyway, here's a hello from cyberspace.

Anonymous said...

wider sideburns?
has Brad started to wear disquises at different zen zenters whilst he tries to duck followers and keep a low pro while using every available minute finishing the ending of his latest book? (which, I might add, he has done an excellent job of keeping under wraps)
Those who sit with him have no clue what it is about
(well there might be two or three who do, but they have maintained Noble Silence).

AnonyMouse said...

when do you plan to have the next book out


Anonymous said...


Harmony of Sameness and Difference

The Seer is Seen
Grande finale
Joyful Seeing and Bergson