moon's door

Guidepost of Silent Illumination

Silent and serene, forgetting words, bright clarity appears before you.

When you reflect it you become vast, where you embody it you are spiritually uplifted.

Spiritually solitary and shining, inner illumination restores wonder,

Dew in the moonlight, a river of stars, snow-covered pines, clouds enveloping the peak.

In darkness it is most bright, while hidden it is all the more manifest.

The crane dreams in the wintery mists. The autumn waters flow far in the distance.

Endless kalpas are totally empty, all things completely the same.

When wonder exists in serenity, all achievement is forgotten in illumination.

What is this wonder? Alertly seeing through confusion

Is the way of silent illumination and the origin of subtle radiance.

Vision penetrating into subtle radiance is weaving gold on a jade loom.

Upright and inclined yield to each other; light and dark are interdependent.

Not depending on sense faculty and object, at the right time they interact.

Drink the medicine of good views. Beat the poison-smeared drum.

When they interact, killing and giving life are up to you.

Through the gate the self emerges and the branches bear fruit.

Only silence is the supreme speech, only illumination the universal response.

Responding without falling into achievement, speaking without involving listeners,

The ten thousand forms majestically glisten and expound the dharma.

All objects certify it, everyone in dialogue.

Dialoguing and certifying, they respond appropriately to each other;

But if illumination neglects serenity then aggressiveness appears.

Certifying and dialoguing, they respond to each other appropriately;

But if serenity neglects illumination, murkiness leads to wasted dharma.

When silent illumination is fulfilled, the lotus blossoms, the dreamer awakens,

A hundred streams flow into the ocean, a thousand ranges face the highest peak.

Like geese preferring milk, like bees gathering nectar,

When silent illumination reaches the ultimate, I offer my teaching.

The teaching of silent illumination penetrates from the highest down to the foundation.

The body being shunyata, the arms in mudra,

From beginning to end the changing appearances and ten thousand differences have one pattern.

Mr. Ho offered jade [to the Emperor; Minister] Xiangru pointed to its flaws.

Facing changes has its principles, the great function is without striving.

The ruler stays in the kingdom, the general goes beyond the frontiers.

Our school’s affair hits the mark straight and true.

Transmit it to all directions without desiring to gain credit.

Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
trans. Taigen Daniel Leighton & Yi Wu
photos ©2006 glassfrequency


If you truly appreciate a single thread your eye can suitably meet the world and its changes. Seeing clearly, do not be fooled, and the ten thousand situations cannot shroud you. Moonlight falls on the water; wind blows over the pines. Light and shadow do not confuse us; sounds or voices do not block us. The whistling wind can resonate, pervading without impediment through the various structures. Flowing along with things, harmonizing without deviation, thoroughly abandoning webs of dust, still one does not yet arrive in the original home. Put to rest the remnants of your conditioning. Sit empty of worldly anxiety, silent and bright, clear and illuminating, blank and accepting, far-reaching and responsive. Without encountering external dusts, fulfilled in your own spirit, arrive at this field and immediately recognize your ancestors.

Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
trans. Taigen Daniel Leighton & Yi Wu
photo ©2006 glassfrequency


Patch-robed monks practice thoroughly without carrying a single thread. Open-mindedly sparkling and pure, they are like a mirror reflecting a mirror, with nothing regarded as outside, without capacity for accumulating dust. They illuminate everything fully, perceiving nothing. This is called taking up the burden from inside and is how to shoulder responsibility. Wisdom illuminates the darkness without confusion. The Way integrates with the body and does not get stuck. From this unstuck place, engaging and transforming at the appropriate opportunity, the wisdom does not leak out. Clearly the Way does not get stained. The valley spirit echoes the sound. The wind master walks in the sky. Unobstructed and free, beyond restraints, they do not depend on even subtle indicators and their essential spirit cannot be eclipsed. Fulfilled, wander around and arrive at such a field. The entire place secure, the entire place at leisure, the open field of the white ox is plain and simple, of one color. If you chase the ox, still he will not go away. You must intimately experience and arrive here.

Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
trans. Taigen Daniel Leighton & Yi Wu

The Five Ranks

The Partial Within the True:

The blue sky clears and the River of Stars' cool flood dries up.
At midnight the wooden boy pounds on the moon's door.
In darkness the jade woman is startled from her sleep.

The True Within the Partial:

Ocean and clouds rendezvous at the top of spirit mountain.
The old woman returns, hair hanging down like white silk,
And shyly faces the mirror coldly reflecting her image.

Coming from Within the True:

In moonlit night the huge sea monster sheds its scales.
Its great back rubs the heavens, and it scatters clouds with its wing feathers.
Soaring here and there along the bird's path - difficult to classify.

Coming from Within Both Together:

Meeting face to face we need not shun each other's names.
In the changing wind, no injury to the profound meaning.
In the light, a road to the natural differences.

Arriving Within Both Together:

The Big Dipper slants across the sky before dawn.
In dewy cold the crane begins to waken from its dreams.
As it flies out of the old nest, the pine tree up in the clouds topples.

Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
trans. Taigen Daniel Leighton & Yi Wu


Empty and desireless, cold and thin, simple and genuine, this is how to strike down and fold up the remaining habits of many lives. When the stains from old habits are exhausted, the original light appears, blazing through your skull, not admitting any other matters. Vast and spacious, like sky and water merging during autumn, like snow and moon having the same color, this field is without boundary, beyond direction, magnificently one entity without edge or seam. Further, when you turn within and drop off everything completely, realization occurs. Right at the time of entirely dropping off, deliberation and discussion are one thousand or ten thousand miles away. Still no principle is discernible, so what could there be to point to or explain? People with the bottom of the bucket fallen out immediately find total trust. So we are told simply to realize mutual response and explore mutual response, then turn around and enter the world. Roam and play in samadhi. Every detail clearly appears before you. Sound and form, echo and shadow, happen instantly without leaving traces. The outside and myself do not dominate each other, only because no perceiving comes between us. Only this non-perceiving encloses the empty space of the dharma realm's majestic ten thousand forms. People with the original face should enact and fully investigate without neglecting a single fragment.

Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157)
trans. Taigen Daniel Leighton & Yi Wu