“… God [The Self] is a circle whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere …” ~ Carl Jung quoting St.Bonaventure

sunset sky god self everywhere seng tsan

“When you are with everyone but me, you’re with no one. When you are with no one but me, you’re with everyone.” ~ Rumi

Both Jung and Rumi are talking about the “realest of realities” … and Stephen Mitchell compiles a collection of poetry about this reality “… from the world’s great religious and literary traditions …”  and teachers, scholars, saints, poets from these traditions, e.g., The Upanishads, The Book of Psalms, The Bhagavad Gita • Lao-tzu, Han-shan, Izumi Shikibu, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis of Assisi, Dõgen, Rumi, Dante, Kabir, Mirabai, Shakespeare, Thomas Traherne, Basho, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Anonymous Navaho, Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, D.H. Lawrence … to just name a few.

Here’s Stephen’s summary of this anthology:

enlightened heart mitchell“We dance round in a ring and suppose, / But the Secret sits in the middle and knows,” Robert Frost wrote, looking in from the outside. Looking out from the inside, Chuang-tzu wrote, “When we understand, we are at the center of the circle, and there we sit while Yes and No chase each other around the circumference.” This anonymous center—which is called God in Jewish, Christian, and Moslem cultures, and Tao, Self, or Buddha in the great Eastern traditions—is the realest of realities.

Self is everywhere, shining forth from all beings,
vaster than the vast, subtler than the most subtle,
unreachable, yet nearer than breath, than heartbeat.
Eye cannot see it, ear cannot hear it nor tongue
utter it; only in deep absorption can the mind,
grown pure and silent, merge with the formless truth.
As soon as you find it, you are free; you have found yourself;
you have solved the great riddle; your heart forever is at peace.
Whole, you enter the Whole. Your personal self
returns to its radiant, intimate, deathless source.
                   ~ Mundaka Upanishad

Most of what we call religious poetry is the poetry of longing: for God, for the mother’s face. But the poems in The Enlightened Heart are poems of fulfillment. They were written by the Secret, who has many aliases. Sitting or dancing, all these poets have found themselves inside the circle—some of them a step within the circumference, some far in, some at dead center. Looking out from the center, you can talk about the circumference. But really, there is no circumference. Everyone, everything, is joyfully included.”

— — —

Stephen’s work will be explored more – in future … for now here’s a poem, from his book, by Seng-Tsan on the great way and what’s important.

So, … pause … take in the verse … reflect … then reflect some more … and even more … and then … see what emerges …

The Mind of Absolute Trust

The Great Way isn’t difficult
for those who are unattached to their preferences.
Let go of longing and aversion,
and everything will be perfectly clear.

great way seng tsan

When you cling to a hairbreadth of distinction,
heaven and earth are set apart.
If you want to realize the truth,
don’t be for or against.
The struggle between good and evil
is the primal disease of the mind.
Not grasping the deeper meaning,
you just trouble your mind’s serenity.

As vast as infinite space,
it is perfect and lacks nothing.
But because you select and reject,
you can’t perceive its true nature.

Don’t get entangled in the world;
don’t lose yourself in emptiness.
Be at peace in the oneness of things,
and all errors will disappear by themselves.

rock sunset seng tsan oneness

If you don’t live the Tao,
you fall into assertion or denial.
Asserting that the world is real,
you are blind to its deeper reality;
denying that the world is real,
you are blind to the selflessness of all things.

The more you think about these matters,
the farther you are from the truth.
Step aside from all thinking,
and there is nowhere you can’t go.

Returning to the root, you find the meaning;
chasing appearances, you lose their source.
At the moment of profound insight,
you transcend both appearance and emptiness.
Don’t keep searching for the truth;
just let go of your opinions.

hands sky let go seng tsan

For the mind in harmony with the Tao,
all selfishness disappears.
With not even a trace of self-doubt,
you can trust the universe completely.
All at once you are free,
with nothing left to hold on to.
All is empty, brilliant,
perfect in its own being.
In the world of things as they are,
there is no self, no non-self.

If you want to describe its essence,
the best you can say is “Not-two.”
In this “Not-two” nothing is separate,
and nothing in the world is excluded.
The enlightened of all times and places
have entered into this truth.
In it there is no gain or loss;
one instant is ten thousand years.
There is no here, no there;
infinity is right before your eyes.

sunset water let go opinions seng tsan

The tiny is as large as the vast
when objective boundaries have vanished;
the vast is as small as the tiny
when you don’t have external limits.
Being is an aspect of non-being;
non-being is no different from being.
Until you understand this truth,
you won’t see anything clearly.

One is all; all are one.
When you realize this,

what reason for holiness or wisdom?
The mind of absolute trust
is beyond all thought, all striving,
is perfectly at peace, for in it
there is no yesterday, no today, no tomorrow.

~~ Seng-Ts’an

— — —

Above Verse/Poem and all italicized text is from The Enlightened Heart, by Stephen Mitchell.
Jung’s opening quote: Jung and Phenomenology By Roger Brooke.
Rumi’s poem excerpt: The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and John Moyne
Images: (edited and logo added): Featured and 1) Sunset sky by vencav, 2) Surrealism. Green tree. Man on a stone road by rolffimages,  3) Kannestein Rock in sunset light, Norway by stroop, 4) Hands reaching for the sky by stillfx, 5) Sunset over water by pklimenko. All purchased from depositphotos, for use only on our website/social channels (these images are not permitted to be shared separate from this post).
Stephen’s book cover from Amazon’s book page.


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