Relative and Absolute

The Identity of Relative and Absolute

Sandokai 参同契

The mind of the Great Sage of India
Is intimately conveyed west and east.
While human faculties are both wise or dull
In the Way there are no northern or southern ancestors.
The subtle Source shines clear in the light;
The branching streams flow in the dark.

To be attached to things is primordial illusion;
To encounter the absolute is not yet enlightenment. All spheres, every sense and field
intermingle even as they shine alone,
Interacting even as they merge,

Yet keeping their places in expressions of their own.
Sights differ primally in shape and character
And sounds in harsh or soothing tones.
The dark makes all words one;

The brightness distinguishes good and bad phrases.
The four elements return to their true nature
As a child turns to its mother.
Fire is hot, water is wet,
Wind moves and the earth is dense.
Eye and form, ear and sound, nose and smell,
Tongue and taste, the sweet and sour:
Each independent of the other
Like leaves that come from the same root.
And though leaves and root must go back to the Source
Both root and leaves have their own uses.

Light is also darkness,
But do not think of it as darkness.
Darkness is light;
Do not see it as light.

Light and darkness are not one, not two. Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking. Each thing has its own being Which is not different from its place and function.

The relative fits the absolute
As a box and its lid.
The absolute meets the relative
Like two arrow points that touch in mid air.

Hearing this, simply perceive what is, Make no criterion.
If you do not see the Way,
You do not see it even as you walk upon it.
Walking forward in the way
You draw no nearer, progress no farther.
One who fails to see this truth
Is mountains and rivers away.

Listen, those who would perceive this subtle matter: Live well your time by night and day!