Song of Enlightenment

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The Song of Enlightenment (traditional Chinese: 證道歌; simplified Chinese: 证道歌; pinyin: Zhèngdào gē; Wade–Giles : Cheng-dao ke; Japanese: Shōdōka; Korean: 증도가; literally: "prove Way song"), also translated as Song of Awakening and Song of Freedom, is a Zen discourse written some time in the first half of the 8th century C.E. and usually attributed to Yongjia Xuanjue. The true authorship of the work is a matter of debate, with a number of elements in the writing suggesting either the text has been substantially changed over time or Yongjia was an unlikely author. The first commentaries appeared in the 11th century during the Song Dynasty. The first English commentary on the work was written by Charles Luk. The Song deals with the methods of and attitudes towards daily Zen practice. A central theme is the contrast between dharma-nature, or reality as it is, versus buddha-nature, or self-nature. It also emphasizes practice over sutra-study. It has been considered a central Zen text from the Song Dynasty to the present day. It was apparently so highly esteemed that Dahui Zonggao reported that it was translated from Chinese to Sanskrit so it could be studied elsewhere.[1] Today it is often memorized by Zen practitioners in East Asian countries.[2]


  1. ^ Yen, Shen (2002), The sword of wisdom: commentaries on the song of enlightenment, Dharma Drum Publishing Corp, ISBN 978-1-55643-428-0 
  2. ^ Senzaki, Nyogen; McCandless, Ruth S. (1988), Buddhism and Zen, Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-86547-315-7 

External links[edit]

The Song of Enlightenment, translated by Nyogen Senzaki with commentary