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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So what exactly is zazen?

"Cease from the practice of intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inward to illuminate yourself. Body and mind of themselves will drop away and your original face will be manifested. If you want to attain suchness, you should practice suchness without delay. Cease all movements of the conscious mind, the gauging of all thoughts and views. Have no designs on becoming a Buddha. Zazen has nothing whatsoever to do with sitting or lying down. The zazen  I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma Gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of total accumulated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. In addition, the bringing about of enlightenment by the opportunity provided by a finger, a banner, a needle, or a mallet, and the affecting of realization with the aid of a hossu, a fist, a staff, or a shout cannot be fully understood by our human discriminative thinking. Indeed, it cannot be fully known by practicing or realizing supernatural powers either. It must be deportment beyond human hearing and seeing. It is not a principle that is prior to our knowledge and perception. Thus, intelligence or lack of it does not matter. Between the dull and the sharp-witted there are no distinctions. If you concentrate your efforts single-mindedly, that in itself is negotiating the Way. Practice/realization is naturally undefiled. Going forward in practice becomes a matter of everyday affairs."...Dogen, in The Eight Gates of Zen by John Daido Loori, pg. 86


Also check out these Chan sites of interest:
3. How to chan meditate: Master Sheng Yen in Facebook
4. The Western Chan Fellowship at
Call Adrian at 250 898 8201, email
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Monday, April 18, 2011

What is the one thing you rely upon in this chaotic world?

Your bank account with the impressive numbers that grants you financial security? Your partner is an oasis of calm? Lots of friends? Food on the table? Your belief that your good deeds will guarantee you a place in heaven or a beneficial reincarnation? Everybody at work loves your creativity, your finess, your positive attitude? Good looks?

If you rely on something, that object of reliance is something you can rest upon; it is a port of safety, something/someone you know that you can depend upon and always turn toward in a moment of doubt,  a moment of danger, a moment of chaos.

What is it like to be enlightened? Imagine a world in which you are open to everything. And in that open world, there is not a single solitary thing upon which you can rely upon.

For the one who experiences no-self, that is the world of freedom. For the rest of us in delusion, how do we free ourselves from that one attachment we so dearly rely upon?

The Chan master will always say, 
"Return to the method."


2. How to chan meditate:
3.Master Sheng Yen in Facebook; 

4. The Western Chan Fellowship at

Call Adrian at 250 898 8201,
Please notify me if you wish to be removed from the email list.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


"The spiritual source is bright and pure.
Branching out and secretly flowing forth."

The spiritual source refers to the potential for Buddhahood, or the seed of Buddhahood, that is within all of us. It is called Buddha-nature. The spiritual source can also be described as the undefiled master that is within each of us.

The Chinese character which is translated as 'spiritual source ' has other connotations. It alludes to something that  is free, yet soft, like a gentle, unobstructed light that has the power of illumination. The same Chinese characters are sometimes used to describe moonlight; moonlight is considered gentle and undefiled. Hence, the spiritual source is completely unobstructed, bright, pure and clear.

From an enlightened person's point of view, the spiritual source is pure and unmoving. It has no power because no power is needed; there is only Suchness. For ordinary sentient beings, however, the spiritual source has the power of illumination, because they are in the darkness of ignorance and they need the power of illumination to escape that darkness. When the spiritual source displays this power of illumination, it is called wisdom.....from Chan Master Sheng Yen in The Infinite Mirror's Inquiry into Two Halves, pg. 23

Also check out these Chan sites of interest:
2. How to chan meditate:
3. Master Cheng Yen in Facebook; 
4. the Western Chan Fellowship at

Call Adrian at 250 898 8201,
Please notify me if you wish to be removed from the email list

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vows and bowing

"What is the proper attitude? You should incorporate vows into your practice. Each time, before practicing, vow to work hard, vow to attain enlightenment. Yes, you should seek enlightenment, but when you sit, and use your method, all thoughts of seeking must vanish. There is nothing to seek; there is nothing to gain or lose. Just practice. Vows strengthen determination. Every sitting should begin with a sincere vow"....Sheng Yen in The Infinite Mirror, pg. 90

The four Universal vows Ch'an uses are:
1. I vow to deliver innumerable sentient beings.
2. I vow to cut off endless vexations.
3. I vow to open all Dharma gates.
4. I vow to attain the Buddha Way.

The wording will change from nation to nation; for example in the third vow, doors can be sometimes expressed as gates. Essentially , they are universal vows. The bow is a full prostration: the full face touches the ground and the palms face upward. In Ch'an, we combine the initial four vows with the bowing.  

Auxiliary Practices: Repeat each morning... 

1. Your great vow: “I vow to (make up your own obligation).”
2. Renewal: “I realize that because of my self-centered attachment I have hurt sentient beings, those I know and those I don’t know. I have decided not to do this again.”
3. Transfer Merit: “I transfer all the merit I have accumulated thus far to all sentient beings (and /or to a specific individual in need.”)

"Bowing is a very important practice for diminishing our arrogance and egotism. It is not to demonstrate complete surrender to Buddha, but to help get rid or our own selfishness. "...Bowing is second only to zazen...It is Buddha bowing to Buddha. If you cannot bow to Buddha, you cannot be Buddha. It is arrogance."...David Chadwick in The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki, Pg200-201.

Also check out these Chan sites of interest:


2.  Master Sheng Yen in Facebook; 

3. the Western Chan Fellowship at



Call Adrian at 250 898 8201,
Please notify me if you wish to be removed from the email list.