Song of Trusting the Heart

A Classic Zen Poem for Daily Meditation


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Winner of two awards from Nautilus Book Awards: the Gold Award in the Gift/Specialty category and the Silver Award in the Religion/Spirituality (Eastern) category. Nautilus Book Awards Silver and Gold Winners are carefully selected in a unique three-tier judging process by experienced teams of book reviewers, librarians, authors, editors, book store owners, and leaders in the publishing industry. Each book is evaluated by at least two judges at each level and consensus is required for each award.

Zen masters say only one thing matters in life—the now, and only one thing matters at death—a peaceful heart. The way to achieve both is vibrantly expressed in the poem “Song of Trusting the Heart” (also known as Hsin Hsin Ming or Faith Mind Inscription), an ancient Chinese scripture beloved by sages and considered a cornerstone of Zen Buddhism.

Written in the 6th century by Jianzhi Sengcan—the third Zen patriarch of China—the poem inspires its readers to experience life without the burdens of attachments and judgments, however the few existing translations are either dated or weighed down with commentary. Tamarack Song, a student of nature and indigenous cultures, adapts these verses to the modern seeker, while staying faithful to the poem’s original phrasing. Each stanza is embellished with a striking full-page, original illustration by the Japanese brush-painting master Jan Zaremba.

The book starts with a brief introduction to Zen, exploring its obscure origins, then offers one verse for each day of the lunar month. This beautiful little volume will become a daily meditation guide for those looking for refinement and peace in our modern world.

Tamarack Song lives in northern Wisconsin, where his passion for nature, indigenous cultures, and achieving balance in an unbalanced world led him to found the Teaching Drum Outdoors School, where he teaches his students to align with nature as our ancestors once did.


Praise for Song of the Trusting Heart


This ancient yet timeless Heart-Trust Song is one of my absolute favorite Buddhist texts and teachings. I recommend it to all my students, reminding them to re-read it constantly, and never stray far from it. You, too, can find wisdom and delight in this wonderful poem and fine translation.

—Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within

In this poem, the third Chan patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan encourages us to go beyond clinging, prejudice, and our addiction to having opinions based on our self-centeredness and ignorance. He steers us toward non-dual awareness, but arriving at that understanding is not a simple matter of our mind willing it. We need to investigate and clearly see our mistaken ways of thinking and feeling, and then through putting easeful effort into realizing how things actually exist, release them and bring to the fore love, compassion, and wisdom.

—Thubten Chodron, author of Open Heart, Clear Mind

Listen to and feel the spirit of these sacred verses. They are currents of homecoming, reminders of the vast beauty and mystery that is our essence.

—Tara Brach, Ph.D., author of Radical Acceptance

Tamarack Song’s beautiful, clear interpretation of my favorite Zen scripture especially captures the essence of true, effortless non-dual realization. May all who see it immediately open to the always open Heart.

—Gangaji, author of The Diamond in Your Pocket


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about the author

Tamarack Song

Tamarack Song, naturalist and author, is a leading authority on world cultures and surviving in the wild. Raised to embrace nature by his grandmother but disenchanted with a traditional life, he traveled across the country – a self-proclaimed “wandering Zen seeker” – then came back home to learn the ways of the indigenous tribes of the area. He learned how to commune with nature, to reap its gifts and become skilled in living as the ancestors once did. He took lifetime vows of poverty and service, and devoted forty years to study and reflection on the world’s religions, languages, and indigenous cultures. Zen kept appearing in unrelated traditions, and he realized Zen’s universality.

Song is the director, founder, and lead instructor at the Teaching Drum Outdoor School in northern Wisconsin, where his mission is to return balance to the lives of those who live without it. Founded in 1987, Teaching Drum is internationally known for its year-long wilderness immersion program, as well as its wilderness and personal development classes. The purpose of the school is to aid students in reconnecting with nature and their ancestors, and surviving in the wild. The school has been featured on MTV’s True Life: I’m Living Off The Grid and CBC News: Sunday - Real Survivor.

Song’s other books include Whispers of the Ancients: Native Tales for Teaching, Healing in Our Time and Journey to the Ancestral Self.

His websites are and