30: Unite motion and stillness

止動無動     Stop motion and you have no motion

動止無止     but motion stopped is not stillness

兩既不成     If the two are not united

一何有爾     how will you attain the One?



The Samadhi of One Act (一行三昧) is having a straightforward mind [smrti] at all times—walking, standing, sitting, and lying. The Vimalakirti Sutra says: “Straightforward mind is the place of practice; straightforward mind is the Pure Land.” Do not with a crooked mind speak of the straightforward teaching. If while speaking of the Samadhi of One Act you fail to practice the straightforward mind, you will not be disciples of the Buddha. Only practicing the straightforward mind and in all things having no attachments whatsoever is called the Samadhi of One Act.

The deluded man clings to the characteristics of things, latches onto the Samadhi of One Act, [thinking that] the straightforward mind is sitting without moving, casting out delusions and allowing nothing to arise in the mind. This he considers to be the Samadhi of One Act. This kind of practice is the same as insentience and causes an obstruction of the Tao. Tao must be something that flows freely—why should he hinder it? If the mind does not abide in things the Tao flows freely; if the mind abides in things, it becomes entangled. If sitting in meditation without moving is good, why did Vimalakirti scold Sariputra for sitting in meditation in the forest? (The Dharma of Hui-neng)

The Buddha:

But, Mahamati, as earnest disciples go on trying to advance on the path that leads to full realisation, there is one danger against which they must be on guard. Disciples may not appreciate that the mind, because of its accumulated conditioning (samskara), goes on functioning more or less unconsciously as long as they live. They may sometimes think that they can expedite the attainment of their goal of quieting the mind by entirely suppressing all activities. This is a mistake, for even if the activities of the mind are suppressed, the mind will still go on functioning because the seeds of conditioning will still remain in it. What they think is extinction of the mind is really the suspension of the mind’s manifestation of the external world. That is, the goal of quieting the mind is to be reached not by suppressing all mental activity but by getting rid of discrimination and attachments. (Goddard, 1932)

Meister Eckhart:

But you might say, ‘Oh sir, if this requires a mind free of all images and all works (which lie in the powers by their very nature), then how about those outward works we must do sometimes, works of charity which all take place without, such as teaching or comforting the needy? Should people be deprived of this? . . . Shall we then be deprived of this great good [union with God] because we are engaged in works of charity?’

Now note the answer to such questions. The one thing is noblest [contemplation], the other very profitable [charity]. . . . St. Thomas says the active life is better than the contemplative, in so far as in action one pours out for love that which one has gained in contemplation. It is actually the same thing, for we take only from the same ground of contemplation and make it fruitful in works, and thus the object of contemplation is achieved. Though there is motion, yet it is all one. It comes from one end, which is God, and returns to the same, as if I were to go from one end of this house to the other. That would indeed be motion, but only of one in the same. Thus too, in this activity we remain in a state of contemplation in God. The one rests in the other and perfects the other. For God’s purpose in the union of contemplation is fruitfulness in works, for in contemplation you serve yourself alone, but in works of charity you serve the many. (Walshe, pp. 27-28)

Meister Eckhart: 

A man may go out into the fields and say his prayers and know God, or he may go to church and know God: but if he is more aware of God because he is in a quiet place, as is usual, that comes from his imperfection and not from God. For God is equally in all things and all places, and is equally ready to give Himself as far as in Him lies, and he knows God rightly who knows God equally. (Walshe, Sermon Sixty Nine)


Jesus said:
If they say to you: Whence have you come?,
say to them: We have come from the light,
the place where the light came into being of itself.
It [established itself] and it revealed itself in their image.
If they say to you: Who are you?, say:
We are its children, and we are the elect of the living Father.
If they ask you: What is the sign of your Father in you?
say to them: It is movement and rest.

– Gospel of Thomas, verse 50 (Blatz-NTA, 1991)


Blatz, Beate. “The Coptic Gospel of Thomas.” In New Testament Apocrypha. Vol. 1. Rev. ed. Edited by Wilhelm Schneemelcher, 110–133. Translated by R. McL. Wilson. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1991.

Goddard, Dwight and Suzuki, D. T. (1932). A Buddhist Bible (First Edition). (http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/bb/index.htm)

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume I. UK: Element Books Limited

M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume II. UK: Element Books Limited.

Yampolsky, Philip B. (1967) The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. (The text of the Tun-Huang manuscript with translation, introduction and notes by Philip B. Yampolsky.) New York: Columbia University Press. (http://www.fodian.net/world/Platform_Sutra_Yampolsky.pdf)

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