Sengcan was the third patriarch of the Chan in China. According to legend, Sengcan had leprosy and was therefore first rejected by Huike and finally accepted as a disciple with the argument that the highest path makes no distinctions.

Sengcan is considered the author of the first teaching poem in the Chan (Zen) tradition, the Xinxinming (信心銘, Xìnxīn míng), the "Verses on the Faith in Mind" (Jap. Shinjinmei). In these verses, Sengcan attempts to express the entire Zen teaching in one poem. The emphasis is on non-duality and refraining from aversion and affection and refraining from separation in the past, present and future. The Xinxinming is considered an example of the integration of the teachings of Buddhism and Daoism.


Jianzhi Sengcan (circa 529–circa 606) was a Chinese Buddhist monk and poet associated with the development of Chan Buddhism, known as Zen in Japan. Not much is known about his early life, but he became a disciple of the Second Patriarch of Chan, Huike.

Sengcan is best known for his composition of the "Xinxin Ming" (Verses on the Faith-Mind), a concise and profound text that conveys the essence of Chan teachings. This work emphasizes the direct experience of the mind and the importance of transcending conceptual thinking to attain insight and enlightenment.

The "Xinxin Ming" emphasizes that the nature of reality is intrinsically pure and that delusions arise from attachments and mental constructs. Sengcan's verses encourage practitioners to let go of dualistic thinking and to realize the inherent emptiness and interconnectedness of all things.

Sengcan's teachings contributed to the development of Chan Buddhism's emphasis on direct experience, meditation, and the transmission of wisdom from master to disciple. His insights into the nature of mind and reality continue to influence the practice and philosophy of Zen Buddhism, highlighting the importance of cultivating awareness and insight in the pursuit of awakening.

Jianzhi Sengcan Texts, Tubes & Books