True reality is hidden by the practice of thoughts
but also in the denial.
Accept the reality of not naming things
and rest in the silence of being.
The need to name, the need to distinguish
are born of a clinging fear.
Remain unattached to every thought
and know the true nature of being.
The Book of Nothing: A Song of Enlightenment
(original Chinese title: Hsin Hsin Ming)
Sosan was the third patriarch of the Zen tradition of Buddhism. Sosan is the Japanese translation of the Chinese name Seng T’san (also known as Sengcan). Not much is known about Sosan, though he was a layman. His short work, The Book of Nothing (just 80 pages of poetry), is an inspiration to seekers of many traditions. The Book of Nothing succinctly, and very simply, captures the essence of the empty mind that in the generations following Sosan was to be the hallmark of the Zen tradition.
The empty mind, or no-mind, loosely describes the state in which reality is experienced directly without being filtered through the thought process of the mind. Without this filter, reality is experienced as completely fresh, radiant, and luminous — and, as if for the first time. Inherent in this experience is a feeling of both joy and bliss.
Like Bodhidharma (first patriarch) and Huike (second patriarch) before him, Sosan was reputed to be a devotee and specialist in the study of the Lankavatara Sutra, which taught the primacy of consciousness, the elimination of all duality, and the “forgetting of words and thoughts.”
An online collection of Sosan’s works is available at Terebess Asia Online.