Monday, July 11, 2011

Suppose someone has done something to irritate you, or better yet, you have harmed another person with your malicious thought, action or speech. The thought of being violated, or of violating someone keeps cycling itself over and over in your mind. It's very disturbing to the tranquility and awareness you are usually able to maintain.

As a beginning technique, one method is to label the obstruction either Greed, Anger or Delusion everytime the specific, persistent thought occurs in your thinking, and number each time it occurs one to ten. So the nuisance landlord becomes Anger #1, and then Anger #2, all the way up to #10 and start over again at Anger #1.

Like all impermanent things, the energy of the specific thought will begin to dissipate. Then, return to your regular practice of Silent Illumination or Huatou. If the thought of the nuisance landlord returns, once again return to labelling and counting the thought. When it dissipates, and it will,  return to your regular practice.

But what about those huge obstructions that seem to verge on life or death, when your back is against the proverbial Wall?

Then you can depend on the energy of your Vows to push your practice, your very life, through the obstruction. Package the following vows together, and before your sitting practice, commit yourself to recite (with awareness of who is reciting these Vows) every day.  

1. The Great Vow:  This is a personal vow. No one else but perhaps your teacher is to know this vow. It can be open and expansive.  Kshitigarba, a bodhisattva, took a vow "to deliver all sentient beings in Hell before becoming a buddha." So your Great Vow could be, "I vow to (............make your own up.............................) for all sentient beings."

2.    a.) "Due to my self-centered discriminatory and attachable nature , I have acquired many vexations. 
       b.) These vexations have harmed many people through my vexatious mind, speech and actions.
       c.) I vow to no longer harm people and I vow to practice Chan diligently for the benefit of all sentient beings."

3. a.) I vow to deliver innumerable sentient beings.
    b.) I vow to cut off endless vexations.
    c.) I vow to master limitless approaches to Dharma.
    d.) I vow to attain supreme Buddhahood. 

4. "I dedicate this meditation (today's) for the benefit of all sentient beings (or a specific person)."  

Then, proceed with your sitting or walking practice. Definitely, this is a mouthful of vows and initially hard to remember. But you will be saying these vows for the rest of your life, so may these words come to you as easily as the obstructions will melt away. 

Master Sheng Yen writes in Shattering the Great Doubt, "Sometimes we recite the vows without really meaning them. When we take these vows, we should say them from the depths of our heart so that we actually mean it. Some people fear making vows because they think the vows are too lofty for them to accomplish. They should know that the vows at least give us a direction and a path, and we try to fulfill them according to our own abilities and at our own pace."  Pg. 63. 

Also check out these Chan sites of interest:

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

4. The Western Chan Fellowship at

Call Adrian at 250 898 8201,
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picture by joanne carscadden

picture by joanne carscadden

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