Back to beginnings – A commentary on huanchu Daoren

Posted April 10th, 2012 in Course Material, News, Reference Material, Uncategorized by Phil Vickery

Don’t worry about what offends you; don’t take a liking to what pleases you; don’t count on a prolonged state of ease; don’t shrink in fear at the first difficulty”


These are the words of the Chinese scholar Hong Ying-ming who lived around the time of 1600. He retired from office and became a Taoist taking the name Huanchu Daoren which translates as ” A Wayfarer back to beginnings”. This small meditation came from a collection of similar sayings from his peice of work known as” Vegetable Root talks”. They were an effort to convey small meditations on revealing the secrets of serenity and wisdom in an ever-changing world.  He was a scholar and his works embraced all 3 historic spiritual traditions of China: Taoism, Confucianism and Chan Buddhism.

He speaks clearly of not being in denial of negative things in life and not falling too readily into the arms of the positive. One may reflect that the style of teaching contains aspects of all 3 traditions in that the Confucian element is seen in the clear directives, that is the prescriptive “don’ts” giving us clear-cut guidelines, something particular to Confucian teaching. the Taoist aspect is clear in that it shows the duality of opposites, from offensive to pleasing from ease to difficulty. The Buddhist aspect is probably the least obvious element in that it is the fruits of the practice. He doesn’t say what they are or when we may attain them but if we eradicate the extremes from one polar opposite to the other we can possibly be left with void, emptiness. Emptiness is not a zero value in Buddhism but more like a state without form, a formless condition free of hinderance and delusion.

The teachings give us the what we have to do’s with the boundaries of life, and the fruits are found in the middle of the extremes, the weightless and formless state. This is also known as: the middle way.




(Phil Vickery 2012)

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