It’s amazing how varied the three characters in the title of this short treatise, the Xin-Xin Ming, are translated. Clarke has “Verses on Faith-Mind”. (They do in fact rhyme, and one can imagine monks reciting them from memory.) Other renditions are: “On Trust in the Heart” (Watson), “Inscribed on the Believing Mind” (Blyth), “Have Faith in your Mind” (Shih Shen-Lung), and “Faith in Mind” (Balcom).

In his short introduction Clarke suggests we not worry about what it means, just as he tells us to ignore the various mythological stories of miraculous events associated with its author. In this he evinces the spirit of Zen, I think. If the treatise is a vessel intended to help us get across the river, then not only must we abandon it when we get to the other side, but we must abandon it even as we use it. Every means is add odds with the end.

Still, the title is as much the message as anything else, so we might as well give it some thought. Indeed, how we understand it can be a great parting of ways, and I will take the path that is likely radically divergent from that which was intended.

What is “mind”? (Xin literally means “heart”, but the Chinese believed that we think with our heart. But it is our conscious experience that matters and whatever organ enables it is of no great importance.) Is it Mind—an expression of some great Universal Mind? Or is it simply an experience without grounding, adrift and groundless? The reader will know my bias. It is grounded in groundlessness. Trust in Mystery. Trust in mind is trust in Life. But Life has no answers.

Though the treatise is not definitive on the matter, I suspect it believes in Mind. “To seek Mind with the discriminating mind is the greatest of mistakes.” (Stanza 14 in Clarke) There is not simply an experience to be had, but a Something to realize.

Can we have something of the intended experience without belief that the experience is of Something? Why not? Or is the entire exercise dependent upon belief in something?

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