Monday, February 23, 2009


Every building is built on trust. Sure, there is plenty of fear sprinkled through the creation of any project, but without trust the whole structure would collapse. The roof must trust the support of walls, the walls has to trust the firmness of the foundation and the foundation needs to trust the stability of the abiding Earth. Gutters and downspouts trust that water flows according to certain laws. Window glass trusts that sunlight reflects in predictable ways. 

Lack of wise trust can make a work of architecture collapse before it is built. If a client, architect and builder don't trust each another or they act in untrustworthy ways, shifting thoughts and emotions can cause the whole project to fall apart. Problems arise when one or another of the team grasps his or her preferences too tightly. The resistance blocks the flow of skill and knowledge into problem solving and creative expression. At times like these, I recall a poem written 1,400 years and see how it might breathe some sanity into the situation:

by Sen-ts'an
6th Century

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.
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 with the oneness of things,
and all errors will disappear by themselves.

If you don't live the Tao,
you fall into assertion or denial.
Asserting 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.

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 a thousand years.
There is no here, no there;
infinity is right before your eyes.
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 not 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.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell in, The Enlightened Heart.

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