Mar 14 2011

Wu Men – One instant is eternity

Published by at 8:46 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry

One instant is eternity;
by Wu Men (Hui-k’ai)

English version by Stephen Mitchell

One instant is eternity;
eternity is the now.
When you see through this one instant,
you see through the one who sees.

— from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell


/ Photo by Tobyotter /

I was a typical Aries kid growing up, always leaning into the future minute. The present made me itch. It took a desperate moment of spiritual exhaustion in my early 30s for me to finally drop the reflex to rush forward and just, finally, sit and settle into “this one instant.” My inflated fantasies about myself collapsed and I came to a full halt. I figured that maybe this little moment was all I had. I fell silent.

Slipping into that tiniest space of “now,” an amazing thing happens — it opens itself up into a timeless vastness.

Finally we see. Well “we” don’t see… The person you thought you were isn’t even there to look; instead, there is some great, clear, steady sight that sees through us. And in that still, living moment, we participate in that seeing.

Eternity isn’t somewhere far off in the future. It is, and always is, right here and right now. Nowhere else.

See if you can squeeze into the tight space of this very moment. See for yourself.

Wu Men (Hui-k’ai)

China (1183 – 1260) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

There are two primary collections of koans in Zen/Chan Buddhism: the Blue Cliff Records, and the Wu Men Kuan, also known as the Mumonkan. The Mumonkan, first published in 1228, consists of 48 koans compiled by Wu Men Hui-k’ai with his commentary and poetic verse.

Wu Men (also called Mumon) was a head monk of the Lung-hsiang monastery in China.

More poetry by Wu Men (Hui-k’ai)

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “Wu Men – One instant is eternity”

  1. Rena Navonon 14 Mar 2011 at 10:53 am

    To see the one who sees: twenty-twenty vision
    reciprocated; a constellation of seers whose
    searching is completed and seeing is forever .
    Full sight is found and projected in unison onto a perfect sky where movement is slowed down to a tempo of truth and reliability. Is God there too?
    Of course. He is the one who sees; but so do we. I see Sofie and Sofie sees me. We live in the same constellation of stars under our canopy of peace. Seeing is becoming a festival of eyes opening up the entire world. One we chose to build, cherish and live in as a fire inhabits the warmth in courageous, unyielding hearts.

  2. nasihaon 14 Mar 2011 at 10:54 am

    thank you for the beautiful poem…loved it and most of all i loved your commentary. its in the moment we find ourselves and thats where happiness lies…right here right now.
    thanks you

  3. Prition 14 Mar 2011 at 11:42 am

    thank you again Ivan….. todays thoughts are a very good explaination for my constancy of feeling so small, even non-existant most of teh time,
    I function so much better when I live in the holy instant!
    Mu life is fuller, rounded and I feel wholy complete… outside of this I am truly lost!
    priti-pauline xx

  4. Patricia Tayloron 14 Mar 2011 at 2:11 pm

    ………and a GREAT AMEN to that.

  5. Mithraon 14 Mar 2011 at 2:35 pm

    As an Aries child, I do relate to what you have said. The restlessness within. For me the point came when I had my children. Eternity is now and this instant. Now every moment is an eternity.

  6. Cloaked Monkon 14 Mar 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Wonderful poem and reflection. I too am/was that crazy Aries. The irony is that I have settled into being a contemplative. And now I discover, thanks to the re-worked horoscope, that I am a Pisces. The Divine will have her jokes!

  7. franon 14 Mar 2011 at 5:25 pm

    thanks for the poem and personal insight, really like the image the sun shine in that moment…

  8. DGon 15 Mar 2011 at 7:39 am

    Your wonderful commentary is as enlightening as the poem itself – thank you for that!
    What a lovely way to start the day.

  9. aparrnaon 16 Mar 2011 at 3:23 am

    O Ivan, I lovvvvvvve, i totally LOVVVVVVVE today’s commentary. squeeeeze in, … with my ever expanding waistline, i will…..will try.

  10. sofiaon 16 Mar 2011 at 6:43 am

    Dear Ivan,

    I am utterly grateful to ur words of wisdom, yhey bring me back to myself and yes, this moment is indeed eternal. This moment is the only moment and i also believe we are in the right moment ,in the right time, with the right people no matter if our circumstances are negative or positive . this moment is meant to be forever now.

  11. simonbaghon 16 Mar 2011 at 11:48 am

    Hi Ivan,

    way to eternity is the road you walk on
    look into yourself to see the eternal sun
    you are thrown on an ever turning circle
    there is no beginning no end it is miracle

    simon baghdasarian [simonbagh]

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