Oh bother, picking and choosing!


Regardless of your religious or spiritual inclinations, I think that many would agree that when we carve the world up into what we like, what we don’t, running to the one and away from the other; we discover that this causes a whole heap of misery and aggravation.


But what if we could turn all that picking and choosing off? What if we could reduce our suffering by accepting what comes along, letting it all rain down, as Jon Kabat Zinn puts it. 

The Xinxin Ming (alt. spellings: Xin Xin Ming or Xinxinming) (信心銘) (Wade–Giles: Hsin Hsin Ming; Japanese: Shinjinmei or Shinjin no Mei),Faith in mind, is a poem attributed to the Third Chinese Chan (Zen) Patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan 僧璨 (d. 606) (Wade–Giles: Chien-chih Seng-ts’an; Japanese: Kanchi Sosan), is one of the earliest Chinese Chan expressions of the Buddhist mind training practice. (Wikipedia)

The basic idea is that if we could just break the habit of picking and choosing, carving the world up into endless sets of dual options, we would release ourselves from suffering. If we could practice with having no preferences one way or the other, we’d just be cool with how things are, right here and now.



One practice, if you are interested, might be starting with just reciting the poem aloud once each day and letting it work on you, form the inside and see what happens.

Here is a link to a site with several translations. And in a bit of a twist, you can choose which one you like the best. Then, I invite you to work with it. See where it takes you. And by all means, stop back here and let me know how it’s going.




Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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