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As before the precious mirror,
The form and reflection gaze on each other.
You are not it,
But it is just you.

from the Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi
by Tung-shan Liang-chieh (807-869)

Are you the physical body or are you the reflection?  Can one exist without the other? Ch’an Master Sheng-Yen gives his explanation to these and other questions in his book, The Infinite Mirror;

“You cannot know a mirror exists until you see a reflection in it. You cannot see a reflection unless a mirror reflects it. The mirror and the reflection are interdependent. They are not the same; they are not separate. If you truly understand this, then you understand the precious mirror.”

He goes on to conclude that both are one and the same, both reflector and reflection are illusionary. 

As with the  priceless drops of youth that we so readily waste in the passing of our life – when youth’s illusion passes we find ourselves only thirsty for more time.  Time like the mirror’s reflection is illusionary and the now aged can never be separated from their youth.    Understanding and acceptance of the illusion allows transformation of  youth’s priceless gift into the precious gems of wisdom in our later years.  This is true alchemy.   And once the soul enters the portal of the Precious Mirror there is no returning to what has been -as the poem reads, “you are not it, but it is just you.