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Hakuin's Praise Song for Meditation
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All beings are Buddha by nature,
just as water and ice are the same.
Without water there’s no ice;
outside of beings, no Buddha.
People miss what’s in front of them
and go searching far from home.
It’s sad, like someone standing in water
and crying out in thirst,
or a child from a rich family,
struggling among the poor.
We cycle through heavens and hells
because we keep setting out
on the dark roads of ignorance—
dark road after dark road,
when will we be free from birth and death?
Meditation can’t be praised enough.
The good effects of generosity and discipline,
prayer, self-reflection, and practice,
have their source in meditation.
With what you gain from just one sitting,
all your crimes are wiped away.
Then where are those heavens and hells?
The Pure Land comes near.
If this way moves you
the first time you hear it,
and you simply follow it,
endless blessings come to you.
Even more, if you turn the light inward
and witness your own nature,
your nature which is empty nature,
you go beyond any doctrine.
The gate opens: cause and effect are one,
there’s no two, no three.
The formless form comes into form;
going or returning, we are in the right place.
Thinking thoughts without thought,
singing and dancing are the voice of the way.
The vast emptiness of deep meditation,
the brightness of the bright moon of wisdom—
is anything missing from this moment?
Nirvana appears before us.
This very place is paradise,
this very body, the Buddha.
—Hakuin Ekaku (transl. John Tarrant)