The Song of Enlightenment was written by Great Master Hsuan-Chueh who was one of the enlightened disciples of the Sixth Ancestor Master Hui-Neng. The literal meaning of the original characters of the Song of Enlightenment is, to certify or prove, the Way, and song. (Song of the Certified Way). This work was written over 1,300 years ago, and is recited in some Buddhist temples at certain times during the year.

The text begins:
"Do you not see that person
Whose study has ended,
The person of Nirvana
Who abides in the Way at ease."

The text begins by speaking of a person who has attained liberation through the study and practice of the Buddhist Way.

The words "Whose study has ended" refer to knowing oneself. It is taught that the study of Buddhism is the study of self. This is to become familiar with oneself. And knowing oneself, we will also understand the world in which we live. Through the study and practice of Buddhism, it is possible to know oneself as Master Hsuan-Chueh has done.

"The person of Nirvana," the original characters of this text are derived from an old Buddhist term meaning absolute reality and also Nirvana. The person who sees clearly the reality of oneself, and the reality of the world. The word Nirvana refers to a quiet condition. Nirvana is quiescence. Nirvana is to be quiet, and careful in life.

"Who abides in the Way at ease." These words refer to diligence and wisdom, and some well-being in life. And it is a good example for all of us. An example of virtue. Each day getting up in the morning and entering the flow of life. Each day, making right effort, doing one's best, in all of our daily activities. In Buddhism we say that our daily life is the Way. When we work, we earnestly work. And this cause brings its effect. When we study we really study. And there is a positive effect. When we rest, we wisely rest. We all need some refreshing things in life, some enjoyment for the heart, for the spirit. This is abiding in the Way at ease. Positively, wisely, making right efforts in the flow of life. Doing our best each and every day.

The text continues:
"Not getting rid of false thought.
Nor seeking after the Truth.
The true nature of ignorance is the Buddha-nature.
This empty body, an illusory transformation, is the Dharma-body."

At first, when we are not clear about ourselves, when we are not familiar with ourselves, perhaps we may think of false thought and truth. However, as we continue our practice, little by little, we are able to clarify the Way. And clarify ourselves. Like this, we will know what we should be doing moment by moment throughout the day. And we will understand that our daily life, our daily studies, our daily work, is the truth. And that it is not a matter of trying to get rid of false thought. It is not a matter of trying to get rid of false thought, however, it is to positively follow the Middle Way.

"The true nature of ignorance is the Buddha-nature." Ignorance refers to not-knowing. In Buddhism there is the teaching, "Not knowing is nearest". This may also be translated as "Not knowing is kindest, most kind." In Buddhism there are many teachings concerned with not-knowing. We do know exactly what the future will bring. And so in this place of not knowing, (in the present) we wisely make efforts.

"This empty body, an illusory transformation, is the Dharma-body." This body of ours is called the Dharma-body. The body itself is always changing, a transformation. However, this body itself is the Dharma-body. Each person is complete as-they-are, in the present. As this is the Dharma body, we can make efforts to take care of ourselves. To some extent to take care of ourselves. And if we continue with our study and practice, we will be able to agree to ourselves.

Nowadays, some people not knowing that this body of ours is the Dharma-body, are affected by depression. It is reported that various people are affected by depression. If we earnestly follow the Way, taking care of ourselves, we can stay out of depression. We should not neglect this Dharma-body.

The text continues:
"With the Dharmabody's enlightenment
There is not a single thing.
Essentially, our self-nature is the Buddha as-it-is.
The five skandhas, like floating clouds,
Emptily come and go.
The three poisons (Greed, Anger, and Ignorance)
Like bubbles of water, arise and disappear, like a play."

The first line is explaining enlightenment. Enlightenment is living a life without separation. Enlightenment is not a matter of attaining to something different, or attaining something. It is being one with our own condition. And we can be without special doubts about ourselves. And with our feet firmly in the Way, we will learn from our life. All things will teach us. Enlightenment is not adding something or gaining something.

"Essentially, our self-nature is the Buddha as-it-is.'' Seeing, hearing, smelling tasting, feeling, and thinking. The functioning of the senses. This is our nature, and this is the Buddha-as-it-is, or the Buddha-nature. Things we like, we like. Things we don't like, we don't like. However, due to attachments, and delusion; or due to the confusion of greed, anger, and ignorance, people cause themselves troubles, and doubts may arise. For this reason, some study and practice of the Way is beneficial so that we can clarify the Way, and clarify oneself.

"The five Skandhas, like floating clouds, emptily come and go." The five Skandhas are also known as the five aggregates. The five Skandhas refer to all things. All things. The first of the five Skandhas is form or matter. The second is perception, or what is perceived. The third is conception, mental conceptions or ideas. The fourth is will, or volition. One's will. The fifth is consciousness of mind. The consciousness. The five Skandhas come and go. Things we see do not remain in the eye. Things we hear do not remain in the ear. Things we smell do not remain in the nose. Things do not stick or remain. As we continue with our study and practice, the five Skandhas will not unreasonably be the source of difficulties. Continuing with our practice, we will be able to agree or assent to ourselves.

"The three poisons, (Greed, Anger, and Ignorance) like bubbles of water arise and disappear, like a play." These are the words of a person who knows the Way, and is liberated from unreasonable attachments. Greed, anger, and ignorance, in Buddhism, are known as the three poisons. Greed, anger, and ignorance arise and disappear, like a play. In life, we should not be unreasonably attached to, or foolishly carried away by greed, anger, and ignorance that arise. Causing ourselves unnecessary troubles. Not to be foolishly carried away means to consider the effects. To consider the effects of what we do, what we say, and our thoughts. Practicing the way, we can live wisely, and know some well-being in life.


(Part 1-1)
(To be continued)