Author:  Niu Tou (594 – 657)

In  “Song of Mind,Niu Tou explains that our mind is originally pure, but if one thought enters, the purity vanishes.  He puts great importance on a method of practice which is to watch our thoughts arising and disappearing.  His method emphasizes using wakefulness and stillness together.  We should not attach to either of them.  In the beginning, we still must rely on our sense organs to observe the world, but we should not let our discriminating mind attach to the world.  The “Song of Mind” says that right enlightenment is no enlightenment and true emptiness is not empty.


The nature of mind is non-arising;

What need is there of knowledge and views?

Originally there is not a single dharma;

Why discuss inspiring and training?

Coming and going without beginning;

Sought for, it is not seen.

No need to do anything; it is bright and still self-apparent.


The highest principle cannot be explained.

It is neither free nor bound.

Lively and attuned to everything,

It is always right before you.


Wakeful without wandering, the mind is tranquil yet bright.

All phenomena are real; profuse, yet of a single form.

There is neither unifying nor dispersing;

Neither slow nor quick.

Brightness and tranquility are just as they are.

They cannot be explained in words.


Neither clear nor clouded, neither shallow nor deep.

Originally it was not ancient; at present it is not modern.

True nature has always existed; no need to preserve it.

Ignorance has never existed; no need to eliminate it.


Mind and nature are originally alike.

Together, yet not mutually dependent.

Enlightenment arises from non-enlightenment.

It is enlightening to non-enlightenment.


As to gain and loss, why call either good or bad?

Everything that is active, originally was  uncreated.

Know that mind is not mind;

There is no sickness, no medicine.

When in confusion, you must discard affairs.

Enlightened, it makes no difference.


Originally there is nothing to obtain;

Now what use is there in discarding?

We may talk of emptiness, yet the phenomena are there.

Don’t destroy the emotions of common people.

Only teach them the cessation of thoughts.

When thoughts are gone, mind is abolished.

When mind is gone, action is terminated.

No need to confirm emptiness;

Naturally, there is clear comprehension.


Within mind there is no environment.

Within the environment there is no mind.

Use mind to extinguish the environment, and both will be disturbed.

Outwardly like a complete fool; inwardly mind is empty and real.

Those not affected by the environment are strong and great.


There is neither people nor seeing.

Without seeing there is constant appearance.

Completely penetrating everything,

It has always pervaded everywhere.

Thinking brings unclarity; confusing the spirit.

Use mind to stop activity, and it becomes even more erratic.


Actually there is not a single thing; only wonderful wisdom exits.

The sun of wisdom is tranquil, the light of concentration is bright.

The original face is limitless; it cannot be probed by mind.

True enlightenment is no enlightenment.

Real emptiness is not empty.


Taking pleasure in Tao is calming.

Wandering free and easy in reality.

Tranquil and non-arising,

Set free in boundless time and space.

Whatever it does, there is no obstruction.

Going and staying are the same.

No action and nothing to attain,

Relying on nothing, manifesting naturally.


Knowing arising is non-arising;

Eternity appears now.

Only the wise ones understand,

No words can explain enlightenment.