Hsin Shin Ming: “56. With a single stroke you are freed from bondage; nothing clings to you and you hold onto nothing.”
‘Single stroke’ means enlightenment. The reason why enlightenment is expressed as a single stroke is that enlightenment is usually experienced through a momentary visual or auditory stimulus. For instance, one ancient master attained enlightenment at the moment of seeing peach blossoms, and another got enlightened at the moment of hearing a piece of broken tile hit some bamboo while sweeping a yard with a broom. Most masters got enlightened by the impact of a word, or a phrase, during a Dharma talk or a conversation with their masters. That is why I always say that you can get enlightened if you can hear just a single word, out of all the words you hear or speak, just as it is, or if you can see only a single thing, no matter what it is, as it is.
‘Bondage’ means karma. ‘Nothing clings to you and you hold onto nothing’ means that there is nothing that clings to you and nothing that you will cling to because everything is empty. So, this scripture says that once you get enlightened, or realise that everything is empty, you can enjoy freedom from karma.
Student: “How can I get a single stroke?”
Master: “Take it.”
Student: “I still don’t know.”
Master: “Take one more.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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