Chan School of Buddhism
- Faith is confidence in oneself and the path.
- Understanding refers to the insights gained on the path.
- Practice transforms our negative habits and distorted views.
- Awakening is the actualization of wisdom and compassion.
Equilibrium Between Movement and Stillness
Relaxation - A Key Point in Practicing the Method
When trying to relax, most people either become too lax, leading them to sink into dullness, or try too hard, resulting in a tense or scattered mind. Relaxing does not mean that the body becomes slack and the mind becomes lazy; it means your whole being is in repose, wholeheartedly and single-mindedly aware of itself just sitting. Without relaxing it would be difficult to gain power from this practice.
Regulating Body, Breath and Mind
Regulating the mind involves learning to be in control of your thoughts. Usually, methods of samatha and vipassana are used to collect and calm the scattered mind. Traditional methods within Buddhism—counting the breath and following the breath—help you reach a calm and collected state of mind and body. You can also calm and balance mind and body by practicing prostration, walking meditation, and recitation of the Buddha’s name. The traditional purpose of sitting meditation practice is to concentrate and unify the mind. When people reach this state, they usually think they are enlightened, or that they have achieved the state of no-self. In reality, whatever they may experience is at most a stage of samadhi. There are eight stages of samadhi; none of them go beyond the state of the unified mind. These states are not the wisdom of emptiness, because attachment to the self still exists even when the mind is unified. In Chan the understanding of samadhi is very different.
The above passages are taken from two books authored by Chan Master Sheng Yen, namely “Dharma Drum” (originally published in 1996 by Shambhala Publications) and “The Method of No-Method” (originally published in 2008 by the same publisher).
In true Silent Illumination there is only clarity. One is clear that one’s mind is free from attachment, and one is clear that there is no opposition, no dualism, in relating to others or the world. Furthermore, this illumination is in perfect harmony and union with silence. Silence and illumination mutually enhance each other inseparably. This is very much unlike the dualistic conception of illumination, where there is an illuminator and that which is illuminated. Although I say, “one’s self is aware,” and “one’s mind is not in opposition” these are just ways I am trying to communicate the idea with words. This pure illumination, or clarity, always exists together with silence, or nonattachment. If illumination were separate from silence, it would not be illumination; it would be ordinary clear-mindedness, and it would be dualistic because it involves a relationship between self and subject. On the other hand, if silence were separate from illumination, it could easily become dull stupor, an experience of blankness.
This article is an excerpt from “The Method of No-Method” by Chan Master Sheng Yen, originally published in 2008, Shambhala Publications.
To conceptually understand this is not enough; certainly it has no bearing on our vexations and life problems. You have to personally experience this. In practice, you must abandon concepts, knowledge, and previous experience until the huatou becomes the only thing in your mind, and you must eventually smash through the huatou itself.
This article is an excerpt from “Shattering The Great Doubt” by Chan Master Sheng Yen, originally published in 2009, Shambhala Publications.
Chan Practice in Daily Life
Chan is a way of life, a foundational practice that brings clarity, peace, wisdom, and compassion to enhance your daily experience. It provides an emotional stability that frees you from stress, anxiety and despair. In turn, it develops a deep understanding and compassion for others. Proper practice includes the cultivation of mindfulness, compassion, intuition, and wisdom.