Reading the Hsin Shin Ming

By Simon Hathaway

‘When love and hate are both absent, the true-Self becomes clear and undisguised’.- Hsin Shin Ming

When we read this scripture, we might be faced with two questions ‘How can we make love and hate both absent?’ and ‘Should we not love anyone and anything including our spouse, our parents, our children, our friends and the beauty of nature?’. Should we have no feelings like stone and wood? Even the Bible says that we should love our neighbours as ourselves.

How can we make love and hate both absent?
‘When love and hate are both absent’ means ‘when we realise that love and hate are both empty’. Then, how can we realise that love and hate are empty? It is possible only when we make no discrimination and can see everything as it is. So, the scripture means that when we make no discrimination, the true-Self is clear and undisguised.

Should we not love anyone and anything?
This doesn’t mean that we should not love and hate anyone and anything, but that we should know who loves and hates whom when we love and hate.

In fact, our problem is not that we love and hate someone or something, but that we don’t know the subject and the object of our love, or hate, because we can’t see things as they are. For example, we don’t know what we are when our bodies are not us. In the same way, we don’t know what our beloved spouses are when their bodies are not them. This means that we really don’t know who loves whom, even though we think that we love our spouses. So, I sometimes jokingly say, “Don’t let your spouse sleep with someone you don’t know.”

When we can see everything as it is, we can clearly know what we are when our bodies are not us and feel oneness, as emptiness, with the ones we love. When we feel oneness with our beloved, we can have unconditional pure love. This is to love our neighbours as ourselves. When we see ourselves and our beloved as emptiness, we can love without attachment. To love someone as oneself without attachment is compassion.

Student: “How can I make love and hate absent?”

Master: “Love truly.”

Student: “How can I love truly?”

Master: “Know clearly who loves whom.”

About the author: Simon Hathaway has a deep interest in people and their different cultures and uses photography as a medium to explore this subject. He is also interested in Zen and how this can be applied to photography.
Simon’s photography has been featured on the BBC and in the world’s oldest photography magazine, the British Journal of Photography. He was commended in the Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) competition in 2010 and has since had several other finalist images in that competition.
Simon currently lives in the English Lake District where he shares his passion for photography and Zen.

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