Clouds over Moffat.


Shen Hsiu and Hui Neng verses.

Shen Hsiu's verse (on the left) receives a reply from Hui Neng. Hui Neng wants to assert that these divisions between such objects as trees, or mirrors, or dust, are all human divisions imposed on a seamless whole. Sometimes, as with the clouds in the picture, we can see a world which is complex yet seamless. Divisions are imposed on nature by human minds. It is one of the core jobs of consciousness to provide us with these divisions, these daily objects, but it is easy to forget that all such objects are constructions. Constructions which are quite foreign to that seamless world in which humans find themselves.


Clouds near Moffat, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
These verses come from Chinese Buddhism's most famous founding story. Hui Neng was an illiterate monastery worker. When the succession of abbot was being decided (at the monastery where Hui Neng was employed) Shen Hsiu, the leading contender, wrote the above text. Hui Neng had his words written for him, they showed his eligibility to be abbot. It was Hui Neng, not Shen Hsiu, that later became abbot, and then the sixth patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism.

Hui Neng's verse in calligraphy. Traditional calligraphy for Hui Neng's verse reads from top right downwards. Provenance is all in such works; attestation is given by the seals Hui Neng's verse in print. Here a modern printed version reads from top left across. You can see the character for one/unity (a horizontal line) in the two locations. line

Saturday 29th
December 2018

Murphy on duty

Details of the
Greeting Card

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