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Monday, September 13, 2010

The Guiding Principle!!!

Practice with pure awareness. No discrimination. No delusion.


"By sound and form, Huang-po was referring to the sense objects (dusts) of the six sense organs and their respective consciousnesses. The six sense organs and consciousnesses are the eyes and seeing, the ears and hearing, the nose and smelling, the tongue and tasting, the body and feeling, and the mind and thinking. The six dusts are forms, sounds, odors, flavors, objects, and symbols. Since humans rely mostly on their ears and eyes to interact with others and the environment, many methods of concentration make use of these two senses, and their accompanying objects - sound and form - to train the mind.

Nothing is intrinsically wrong with the methods of practice, but problems can arise in the minds of practitioners. In the course of meditation, one will undoubtedly hear sounds and see things. Some of these phenomena will be external, and some will come from within, but all should be regarded as illusion. As the mind begins to move from scatteredness to clarity, it will often reach out to grasp things: the hum of the refrigerator may sound like beautiful music. The rule of practice is not to attach to phenomena, even if the sights and sounds of paradise fill your eyes and ears.

As the mind quiets, the senses become more acute and the mind becomes more expansive. The sound of an ant moving across the floor may sound like a stampeding buffalo. You may become so immersed in a particular sound that everything else around you fades away. The sound may grow, like ripples expanding outward when a stone is thrown into a pond, until you yourself become the sound, and the sound becomes one with the entire universe. Likewise, you may see flashes and circles of light in your visual field. One retreatant saw his fellow practitioners surrounded by golden halos. You may sense light emanating from your chest, and if your mind is stable and clear, the light might expand, like sound, until you, the light and the universe are one.

What I have described may happen to you on the path of practice. They are good experiences and signposts of progress, but they are not the final destination. If you become attached to these phenomena, they become serious obstructions. Even if you experience oneness with the entire universe, it is not liberation. It is attachment to sound and form. Huang-po said that attaching to sound and form, no matter how beautiful or expansive it may seem, is not in accordance with enlightenment, and has nothing to do with liberation. Better it would be for the mind to be like a withered trunk or cold ash. These analogies describe a mind that is settled and undisturbed by sound and form. Such a mind, though not enlightened, is close to Ch'an.

The mind of Ch'an is one that is boundless, illuminating, and free from entanglements, like a sun hanging in empty space. One should strive in practice to be like this sun, empty of all attachments. One does this by letting go of the previous thought - the past - and the next thought - the future. When this happens, the present thought will naturally fall away as well, leaving one unattached to existence and emptiness. This is true Ch'an practice."

Excerpts from The Principles of Transmitting the Mind
Commentary by Master Sheng-yen


Really famous Zen Masters, or "Watch it, whether you answer correctly or incorrectly to Zen master's question, you still get 30 whacks from the incense stick. Ouch!!!"

Huang-po (d.850) was the disciple of Baizhand and the teacher of Linji Yixuan. Here is an account of Huang-po had with one of his monks.

"One day Huang-po made his hand into a fist and said, "All the teachers under heaven are right here now. If I let out a string of words about it, it will just confuse you. If I don't say a single phrase, you'll never get rid of it."

A monk asked, "What happens if you let out a string of words?"

Huang-po said, "Confusion."

The monk said, "If you don't let out a single phrase and it can't be gotten rid of, then what?"

Huang-po said, "Everywhere." ...from Zen's Chinese Heritage by Andy Ferguson, pg. 120


Please note: we have a new meeting place at Courtenay Elementary School. 7 to 9 p.m, thursday evenings, by donation.


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Call Adrian at 250 898 8201, email

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