As many of you know, I like to post a little quote from a mystical text most mornings. It’s become a part of my spiritual practice. I find them uplifting, inspiring, sometimes puzzling. A while back, I worked my way through all my Rumi books, then Hafiz. I gave Psalms a try, but found them a bit too dour. I went back to Rumi for a while, but I was casting about.
My friend Tom Kroupa, who is a life-long meditator just as I am, suggested I give Wu Hsin a try. He had posted a few quotes from Wu Hsin that had knocked my socks off, so I bought the compilation of his books translated by Roy Melvyn, The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin: Pointers to Non-Duality in Five Volumes. I’m currently working my way through the first volume, titled most appropriately “Aphorisms for Thirsty Fish.”
Melvyn tells us in his introduction that Wu Hsin was born in Meng in the state of Song during the Warring States Period (403-221 BCE). There is a bit of debate that he might have been born in the State of Chen in a territory of Chu because he was said to have fished in the Pu River. Melvyn reports that the more one knows about Chu’s Daoist culture, the more likely it seems he might have grown up here.
During this period, the ruling house of Zhou was weak and there was more chaos in China. This gave rise to what is called “the hundred schools,” which is exactly as it sounds: many schools of thought about how to regain harmony, both external and internal.
The major movements were the Confucius school and the followers of Mozi. Confucius was born about a hundred years before Wu Hsin. A third movement born from the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching) most strongly reflects Wu Hsin’s style. Daoists took their sitting meditation practice from his work.
Melvyn talks about three major points that were important to Wu Hsin. The first is that “when one ceases to resist What-Is and becomes more in harmony with It, one attains a state of Ming, or clear seeing.” Sounds like what the Vedas would call Cosmic Consciousness. In Ming, our action becomes “wei wu wei, or action without action (non-forcing).” In other words, our actions are in harmony with the universal intelligence.
The second point concerns the deepening of Ming. Wu Hsin calls this “the opening of the great gate.” In this state of consciousness, we realize there is “no one doing anything and that there is only the One doing everything” through the diversity of creation. Sounds a bit like Unity Consciousness.
The third level of understanding is that our perception of ourselves as separate is an illusion created by the mind. The end of this division is the return to happiness. We see ourselves as just one more object in the diversity of creation from the source, universal consciousness.
The teachings are all similar around the world, but use the language of their specific culture and time. As Rumi says, “The lamps are different, but the light is the same.”
Wu Hsin’s philosophy grew into Ch’an Buddhism in China or Zen in Japan. Ah, Zen. Now that told me a lot about what I was reading. Wu Hsin is not as poetic as the Sufi masters I’ve been quoting, but he certainly speaks to me. Melvyn says that Wu Hsin saw words as an impediment to spiritual understanding, so brevity was an important part of his style. He saw words as pointers that should be repeated until the words faded into the background and understanding grew. Not repeated as a mantra, but read a little bit at a time each day. That’s what I’m doing on my personal Facebook page. Join me for a bit of Zen, or Wu Hsin, in the mornings.