Experiences Likely to Arise

Do not be upset if, while practicing, you suddenly grow very hot, perspire profusely, shake, perhaps even violently, hear what seems like all-pervading sound, find yourself assuming various positions without intending to and, possibly, see apparitions. Do not attempt to suppress any of these manifestations However, most practitioners never have any such experiences, but, on the contrary, practice successfully and have the benefit of improved health as well. One might wax mysterious and say that...

What To Be Mindful Of

Every moment of every day presents an opportunity for meditation. However, you may feel that you are too busy or that you need a structure. In that case, you might try it upon arising in the morning and or just before retiring at night. If you can make the attempt only once a day, experiment to find out what the best time for you is, not only in regard to availability but also in regard to the time when you feel most alert and responsive to practice. Look for quality in the short time set...

Breathing Practice

While you are relaxed, it becomes profoundly evident that breathing simply goes on and that there is the knowing that it does. You can intentionally breathe in a certain way, but the need for doing so is based upon some external circumstances bringing about the need for the intention, so that the matter of choice seems somewhat obviated thus, intention seems to come about almost capriciously, in spite of yourself, as it were. This paradox exists in everything that we do. Meditation takes place...

The Practice of Chih Kuan in Relation to Coarse and Distracted Mind

When a beginner sits down to practice, his or her mind is usually coarse and unsettled. Practicing Chih is conducive to mind control, but, failing that, one can switch to Kuan. Let us see what it all means. The first approach, called Chih, has three components, as follows 1. According to the sutra, a fixed mind that cannot stray is like a bound monkey. As applied to practice, it means fixing your attention on the tip of your nose, on your navel, or an inch and a half below it. 2. The sutra...

Regulating Sleep

It is said that overindulgence in sleep results from ignorance, clouds the mind, and should be discouraged. He who sleeps too much will soon not only cast aside his practice of Dharma but will also quickly lose his ability to practice, as his mind becomes confused and all his good roots come to no avail. Therefore, one should awaken to the impermanence of life and regulate one's sleep in order to keep one's spirit high and one's mind clear for the purpose of abiding in the state that leads to...

Concentration

If you make the sun's rays converge, using a magnifying glass, and focus the resulting point of light onto a sheet of paper, you can easily burn a hole through it. Similarly, when you concentrate your thoughts, you are empowered in many ways. A lay Buddhist, Yang Jen San, once found a copy of The Surangama Sutra in an old bookstore. He was overjoyed. It was just what he had been looking for. He sat down and read and read in complete absorption, oblivious to his surroundings, until someone...

Also Known as Cumulative Discipline

Formally stated, the sevenfold assembly consists of the upasaka (male lay devotee), upasika (female lay devotee) siksamana (female candidate for novitiate), sramanera (novice monk), sramanerika (novice nun), (fully ordained monk), and bhikhuni (fully ordained nun). These terms designate levels of commitment to practice, starting with the basic five precepts, or training rules, for laity. Not formally stated, but of equal importance, is the vow to do good and refrain from doing evil. One's...

Useful Hints For Better Practice And Better Health

As you progress in your practice, you are required to sit motionless for longer and longer periods of time at a stretch. It is then that some very important physical limitations may oblige you to make some adjustments in the way that you sit. Should you choose to ignore them, thinking that there is just one right way to practice, you may cause yourself needless pain and distraction (which means that you will not be able to concentrate) and you may possibly expose yourself to irreparable...

Meditation and Chan Ting

Suffice it to say that there are many approaches to meditation in Buddhadharma that are to be found under the headings of Ch'an and Ch'an Ting. Ch'an Ting alone is an umbrella name for many methods the Four Dhyanas, the Four Infinities, the Four-Void Worldly Ch'an, the Nine Observations, the Samadhi of Nine Degrees (supramundane), the Ch'an of Self-Nature and the Ch'an Ting. These approaches can lead one to deep dhyana, where real wisdom is to be found and with real wisdom, there can be self-...

Realization of the State of Purity

The practice of purification consists of contemplation on discriminating views. When the mind is still like calm water and there is an absence of false thinking, the Real Mind, which does not exist apart from false thinking, manifests. This water-without-waves sort of Mind is called The Realization of Purity. These Six Profound Dharma Gates may be seen as consisting of a preliminary set of methods, involving counting and following the breath, the two main practices of Chih and Kuan, and the...

The Chih Kuan Dharma Gate

To recapitulate, remember that in order to prepare for meditation you should sit properly and regulate your breath to stabilize and control your mind. This requires a great deal of patience for most practitioners because the mind is, ordinarily, quite unruly. Not succeeding at it should not keep you from doing Chih-Kuan, how ever nor does it mean that you should quit your practice of regulating your body, speech and mind. As it is, you soon discover that the mind's activity is like a monkey,...

Regulating Body Breath and Mind

Body, breath and mind are all interdependent and are sometimes conceived of as being aspects of the same thing. In Buddhism, there are practices that have been devised to work with these aspects. Also, there are methods that are designed to take you through preliminary, intermediate, and final practices. These methods and practices are employed to prepare you to enter into and to come out of, some say, the heart of it all- meditation. Your everyday activity must have a gentle quality. If there...

The Psychophysiological Effects Of Meditation

The Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), emphasized the role that the cerebrum plays in physiology. At first glance, one might assume this to be merely a statement of fact, because that part of the brain is usually thought to involve little else other than thinking. Actually, it takes part in the production of many hormones, both directly and indirectly. Every aspect of a person is interrelated, and that is how and why thoughts and emotions can have such far-reaching effects. That is,...

Sustained Meditation

Meditation ultimately is simply awareness without intention. However, you are encouraged to be constantly aware and to know whether your body, breath and mind are properly regulated. If, after having regulated your body and having sat for awhile, you notice that your sitting has become strained or loose, that you are inclined to one side, drooping, holding your shoulders up or pulling them backward or forward, or that you are somehow not just right, you should make the proper adjustments in...

Regulating The Breath

For meditation successfully to take place, the breath must first be regulated. There are, traditionally, four kinds of breath audible, gasping, coarse and restful. The first three are considered to be somewhat disruptive. If you can hear your breath, it is said to be audible. If it is not audible, and is also obstructed or not free, it is called gasping breath. If the breath is neither audible nor fine, it is said to be coarse. When it is neither audible nor gasping nor coarse, but continuous,...

The Method of Counting the Breath

The breath-counting method offers two possibilities, as follows After you have regulated your breath, so that it is neither too tight nor too loose, count slowly from one to ten on either your inhalation or exhalation. Do not count on both. For example, breathing in, count one then exhale and upon inhaling again, count two, and so on. Your mind soon becomes fixed on the activity and does not wander as readily. If it wanders off before you have reached the count of ten, return gently and without...

Coming Out of Meditation

Before your meditation session is over, you should, in a manner of speaking, put it aside and exhale, using your mouth while visualizing the air leaving your psychic centers. Then gently rotate your shoulders, arms, hands, head and neck next wiggle your toes to relax them. Having done this, rub your body with your hands, and then rub your palms together and put them over your eyes, cupping them for a while. Finally when you feel that you have cooled down sufficiently, you can leave your seat....

Meditation And Dhyana

In Buddhism, the ordinary man is seen as leading a life steeped in suffering through the defilements of greed, anger and delusion. It is only when he finds out, firsthand, that there is, indeed, nothing that he does that is free of defilement and suffering and that there is a way out of it all, that he may become sufficiently well-motivated to gain that freedom. This is traditionally likened to the discovery that the pretty, colored rope that one has found and treasures is actually a very...

The Relationship Between Mind And Meditation

The metaphor of the mirror, often referred to in Ch'an, is most suitable here in pointing out the most salient aspects of meditation as practiced in this tradition. The mirror-mind does not respond at all, and it is by this lack of agitation that all things are clearly known. This is how the mind is said to be when there is no clinging. The mind, to be like a mirror, must be passive, detached, uninterested and quiet. It is a time of rest, recuperation and of learning to be undefiled in the...

Reciting the Name of Amitabha Buddha

As you may have realized, it is not unusual for thoughts to assail you relentlessly when you sit down to practice. Usually it is beyond your control, and, even with the best of intentions, one might eventually feel that there is no way to begin to practice. If you find that is more the rule than not for you, you might try the Pure Land approach, which is simply to recite the name of Amitabha Buddha over and over again. It is a very simple practice and can be very effective, but it requires a...