In Chan Meditation, We Must Pass Through the Gate of Pain
參禪要克服痛關


We have come here to practice Chan, not to fritter time away.

Today is New Year's Day, and I bid all of you a Happy New Year. This is, in fact, a worldly sentiment and we who seek to realize world-transcending wisdom should not dwell on such mundane habits. Nonetheless, we should recognize that we are still part of this world, and if we leave the mundane world too far behind, we'll also be leaving people too far behind. That's why I invoked a bit of standard etiquette to give you all my greeting: Happy New Year! I'd also like to recite a verse:
The year 1982 is now close at hand;
All ten directions' cultivators come to practice Chan.
Reverse the light and introspect: contemplate at ease.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas,
we will choose sages and worthies.

Since the New Year brings happiness, we can all realize the state of "taking the bliss of Chan as our food," and let our sustenance come from Chan meditation. A person who is genuinely doing the work of Chan has forgotten whether or not he has eaten. He has forgotten whether or not he got dressed. He has forgotten whether or not he slept. When one investigates to the ultimate point, he is no longer aware of heaven above, earth below, or people in between. He has merged completely with empty space. He no longer has any sense of self, others, living beings, or a life span. In this state he fears neither the pain in his legs nor the ache in his back. No matter what comes up, he uses the skill of patience to endure it. Since he has no sense of self, others, living beings, or a life span, who remains to feel pain? Once you pass through the gate of pain, you are no longer aware of any pain. If you don't pass the gate, however, then the pain is still there. If you pass through the gate, then not only does the pain stop, but you also feel very carefree and happy.

The Dharma-door of Chan meditation has no rival in its wondrousness; one attains the state of "taking Chan bliss for food, and being filled with the joy of Dharma." This is the way Chan meditators in ages past could sit for days on end without leaving their benches. Do you suppose their legs hurt? Of course they hurt! But they were able to endure the pain; they could tolerate what others found intolerable; they could endure what others found unendurable. They had the strength and vigorous courage to only advance and never retreat; this is how they succeeded in cultivation.

Chan meditation requires patience; patience is the basic capital of your enlightenment. For example, when we go into business, we need some capital. Only then can our business expand; only then can we hope to earn money. In Chan meditation, we must make it through the gate of pain. Penetrating this gate comes first. Once we're through, a brightly-lit road appears before us, and we travel on it straight ahead to the state where we can "understand our mind and see our nature." Before we pass through the gate, we are in a state where "the mountains have ended, the rivers have vanished, and we doubt there is a road ahead." But then once you pass the gate, your state becomes like "another village appearing, there beyond the bright flowers and shadowy willows."

If I can't renounce death, I'll never gain life.
If I can't renounce what's false, I'll never gain what's true.
If I can't let go of suffering, I'll never attain happiness.

We must use this kind of spirit in our investigation of Chan if we want to have any accomplishment.We have to smash through the gate of trouble and difficulty before we can attain another state of reality. This is why we must concentrate our minds as we meditate. Please pay attention! We have come here to practice Chan, not to fritter time away. Apply yourself to the investigation with genuine determination and true forbearance. We know that nothing in the world comes easily; how can you expect something in return for nothing? Only fools think that way; only they dream such impractical dreams. The only way to success is through your own efforts. We all bring forth our brand-new aspirations at the New Year, hoping to get enlightened, perhaps. Let's all make that our goal ahead, and not stop meditating until we actually reach the enlightened state!

A talk given during a Chan Session from January 1-8, 1982, The Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas


我們是來這裏參禪,不是來混光陰的。

今天是新年,我祝各位新年快樂。本來這是世間的風俗,我們出世的人,不應該再有這種習氣。可是要知道我們大家還在這個世界上,如果和世間距離太遠,那麼和人的距離也遠了。所以還是依世俗之禮,向你們說一句「新年快樂」。那麼我再對你們說一首偈頌:
今逢一九八二年,
十方聚會來參禪;
迴光返照觀自在,
萬佛城中選聖賢。

新年是快樂,我們參禪應該得到禪悅為食,以參禪做為飲食。真正參禪的人,吃飯或未吃飯?忘了。穿衣服或未穿衣服?忘了。睡覺或未睡覺?忘了。參到極點處,上不知有天,下不知有地,中不知有人,和虛空合成一體,到無人、無我、無眾生、無壽者的境界。既然是這樣子,那麼腿痛也不怕痛了,腰痠也不怕痠了,一切一切都要用忍耐的功夫來忍受著。既無人、無我、無眾生、無壽者,那又有誰在痛呢?尤其是這種痛要過關,痛過去就不知痛。如果過不了關,便總是在痛中;若過了關,不但不知痛,而且非常自在,非常快樂。

「參禪」這一法門,沒有再比它更妙的,能得到禪悅為食,法喜充滿的境界。因為這個緣故,所以古來參禪的人,可以連坐幾天,不起於座。那麼他的腿痛不痛?當然痛啊!可是他能忍受,能忍人所不能忍的,受人所不能受的。他有一種勇猛精進的力量,只知向前進,不知向後退,所以才有成就。

參禪要有忍耐心,那是開悟的本錢。好像做生意一樣,有了本錢,生意才能發展,才有希望賺大錢。我們參禪,要克服痛關;通過痛關,過了關之後,光明大道就在眼前,直達明心見性的境界。沒有過關時,就好像「山窮水盡疑無路」的境界;過了關,好像「柳暗花明又一村」的境界。
捨不了死,換不了生;
捨不了假,成不了真;
捨不了苦,得不了樂。
我們參禪,要有這樣的精神,才能有所成功。要把困苦艱難的關打破,然後才能得到另外一種境界。因為這個緣故,所以我們要專一其心來參禪。各位注意!我們是來這裏參禪,而不是來這裏混光陰的,要拿出真正的志願來參,拿出真正的忍耐來坐。要知道世間的事,沒有不勞而獲的,沒有出力,而想得到代價,哪有這樣容易的事?那是癡人妄想,不可能的事。非得拿出真正的力量來,才能有所成就。新年大家都有新希望,希望今年開悟,希望大家向這個目標邁進,若不到開悟的境界,不停止參禪。
一九八二年禪七 一月一日至八日開示於萬佛聖城萬佛寶殿


What Makes One Qualified to Practice Chan Meditation?
怎樣才夠資格參禪?


You must patiently put up with the tasks you dislike doing. Trials you find unbearable must be borne anyway.

No matter what we do in the world, we can only hope for success after undergoing a period of smelting and refining. Practicing the Dharma-door of Chan meditation is even more difficult. We can make headway only after enduring toil and discipline in every way. Patience is the single most important requisite for meditators. You must patiently put up with the tasks you dislike doing. Unbearable suffering must be patiently endured. With this kind of spirit, you are qualified to practice Chan meditation. If you cannot be this patient, then there's nothing more to say. If your body is sitting in the hall, but your mind is out roaming far beyond the hall, your efforts will be entirely fruitless; you won't achieve any success.

The purpose of investigating Chan is to smelt a Vajra-indestructible body. Since you have your heart set on smelting a Vajra-body, you should go ahead and endure as much suffering as you can put up with. Because, as the saying goes,
Enduring suffering ends suffering; Enjoying blessings uses up blessings.

As for the things we like to do, we should do them with even more alacrity, and not fail to fulfill the intent that brought us to the Chan Hall in the first place. Everyone should take note of this!


不願做的事,要忍耐去做;受不了的苦,要忍耐去受。

無論做什麼事情,都要經過一番的鍛鍊,然後才會成功。參禪的法門,更不容易,要受多方面的辛苦和鍛鍊,才能上路。凡是打禪七的人,最重要的要有忍耐心;自己不願做的事,要忍耐去做;受不了的苦,要忍耐去受。要有這種精神,才夠資格參禪,否則一切免談。身在禪堂內,心在禪堂外,參到何時,亦是枉然,無有成就可言。

參禪就是要鍛鍊金剛不壞身,既然心甘情願來受鍛鍊,那麼能受得了苦,更應該去受,所謂
受苦是了苦,享福是消福。

我們歡喜做的事情,更要努力去做,不要辜負了來打禪七的初衷。這一點,各位要特別注意。


Attachment to States Leads to Demonic Possession
貪著境界會招魔


Cultivators of Chan should be free of greed and attachment.

This method of Chan meditation requires that as we meditate, we adopt a down-to-earth attitude. We have to cultivate with our "nose to the grindstone," so to speak. We have to be courageous as we advance. We absolutely may not retreat. With this persevering attitude, we are qualified to be called true Chan meditators.

As we meditate Chan-style, we use patience to overcome all pain. If our legs hurt, we pay no attention. If our back aches, we pay it no mind. If you really want to get enlightened, you have to be patient. If you can't be patient, then you can't get enlightened. The patience that I am talking about includes patience with hunger, patience with thirst, cold, and pain. You have to endure all these different trials. If you can endure them, then you can break through attachment to a self. If you have no attachment to a self, then when you look inside to contemplate your mind, you won't find it. When you look outside to contemplate your body, your body is also gone. When you look afar at all the different things in the universe, none of those things exist either. That's the time when "inside you find no body and mind, and outside you find no world." This is a state of emptiness.

This emptiness, however, is not something to become attached to. If you still hang on to an emptiness, then you are still clinging. Only if you can get rid of emptiness as well, can you become one with, and the same as, the Dharma Realm. You will not be different in any way from empty space. When this state reaches an ultimate point, you'll attain samadhi. Within samadhi, you are not confused and muddled; you are extremely clear and sharp. We call it a state of being "Thus, thus unmoving; understanding, and constantly aware." It's not that when I sit in meditation, I chart out a plan, I have a motive, and I'm greedy for a state to occur. If you have these vain thoughts, you'll be disturbed by demons.

In the Vajra Sutra it says,
All appearances are false.
If you can see all appearances as false,
Then you'll see the Tathagata.

Therefore, people who meditate cannot attach to states, nor do they want to get greedily attached to spiritual powers. As soon as you have an attachment, you can be possessed by a demon. Nor do you want to be greedy for and attach to phony fame and profit. Otherwise, you can easily run afoul of cults, or join the followers of demons, and that's something you should fear to the extreme. Cultivators of Chan should be unattached and free of greed. That's why we say,
When the Buddha comes, slay the Buddha; When the demons come, slay the demons.

Use your royal Vajra-jeweled sword (wisdom) to slice through everything. Don't crave good states, and even less should you crave bad states. By no means should you crave tiny states and assume that they are signs of spiritual skill. If you do, you will surely go down the wrong road. You must not be careless at all.

During the period of our meditation retreat, you must forget yourself, forget other people, forget about time and space. That is to say, "Sweep out all dharmas. Leave all marks and attachments behind." Don't attach yourself to anything; put everything down. At that time you will be able to enter into states of the Four Dhyana Heavens.


參禪的人,應該要無著無貪。

「參禪」這一法,要腳踏實地參,埋頭苦幹地修,勇猛向前進,絕不向後退。有這種的恆心,才是真正的參禪人。

在參禪時,要用忍耐心來克服一切疼,腿痛不管它,腰痠不理它。要想開悟,就得忍耐:不能忍耐,就不能開悟。這個忍,包括忍飢、忍渴、忍寒、忍痛,一切都要忍耐。若是能忍,就破除我執。若沒有一個我的執著,向內觀心,心也沒有了;向外觀形,形也沒有了;向遠觀一切物,物也沒有了。這時,內無身心,外無世界,這就是一個空。

這個空,還不能執著它,如有一個空的存在,那還是一種執著。要把空也沒有了,才能與法界合而為一,與虛空沒有什麼分別。這種境界到了極點,就是一個定。在定中,不是糊糊塗塗的,而是明明白白的,所謂「如如不動,了了常明。」不是說,我坐禪有所企圖,貪著有個什麼境界現前。如果有這種妄想,便會招魔來擾亂。

在《金剛經》上說:
凡所有相。
皆是虛妄。
若見諸相非相。
即見如來。

所以參禪的人,不能執著境界的存在,更不要貪著神通;若有貪著,便會走火入魔。也不要貪著虛妄的名利,否則會走入旁門左道,成為魔王的眷屬。這實在是可怕之至!我們參禪的人,應該要無著無貪,所以才說:
佛來佛斬,魔來魔斬。

用金剛王寶劍(智慧)斬斷一切,好的境界不貪,壞的境界更不貪。千萬不要貪小小的境界,認為這是功夫,那會誤入歧途,不可不慎!

打禪七時,把我忘了,把人忘了,把時間忘了,把空間也忘了。所謂「掃一切法,離一切相」,什麼也不執著,一切放下,這時候,便能進入四禪天的境界。




The States of the Four Dhyana Heavens
四禪天的境界


When not even one thought arises, the entire substance appears. But when the six sense organs suddenly move, you're covered by clouds.

When you as a Chan cultivator enter into a state where you forget yourself and forget others, you have reached the stage of the First Dhyana, which is called the Stage of the Happiness of Leaving Birth. At this stage, you have broken away from the attachments of living beings and experience the feeling of "taking Dhyana bliss as food and being filled with the joy of Dharma." In this samadhi, your breath will have stopped; you will no longer inhale or exhale. There is a unique happiness that is wonderful and inexpressible. This happiness is one that most people never experience.

The Second Dhyana is called the Stage of the Happiness of Producing Samadhi. In this samadhi, you experience the greatest joy. When you're sitting, you don't want to eat or drink. Your pulse has stopped. You're just like a dead person, but you still have thoughts and you are aware that you are sitting in meditation.

The Third Dhyana is the Stage of the Wonderful Bliss of Leaving Happiness. In this stage of samadhi, you leave the happiness of "taking Dhyana bliss as food and being filled with the joy of Dharma" and attain a kind of wonderful bliss that is impossible to describe. It's subtle and inconceivable. In this particular state, your thoughts have stopped. You have no thoughts. It's been described as: "When not even one thought arises, the entire substance appears. But when the six sense organs suddenly move, you're covered by clouds."

The Fourth Dhyana is the Stage of the Purity of Renouncing Thought. When you reach this state, not only are your thoughts stopped, they are eliminated entirely. At this time, you attain an extremely pure and wonderfully subtle joy. However, the state of the Fourth Dhyana is still at the stage of a common mortal. You have not yet realized fruition of your cultivation. Do not assume you are a special person, because you're still far from realizing the fruition. You should still work hard at your cultivation and meditate diligently, because if you can advance, you'll reach the state of the Five Heavens of No Return. That's when you enter the Dharma-nature stream of sages.

There was a person known as the Unlearned Bhikshu, who had cultivated to the stage of the Fourth Dhyana, but mistakenly assumed that he had realized the fruition of Arhatship. He went about announcing that he had realized the fruition. Because he did not have a thorough understanding of the Buddhadharma, he uttered a major lie and later fell into the uninterrupted hells.


一念不生全體現,六根忽動被雲遮。

參禪參到忘人無我的境界,便到初禪「離生喜樂地」。在這個階段,破了眾生的執著,而得到禪悅為食,法喜充滿的受用。在此定的境界上,呼吸停止,無呼無吸,不出不入,有一種特別的快樂。這種快樂,是妙不可言的,總之,這是一般人得不到的快樂。

二禪是「定生喜樂地」,在定中得到最大的歡喜。坐在那裏,不飲不食。脈搏也停止,等於死人一樣,可是還有意念,知道自己在靜坐。

三禪是「離喜妙樂地」,在定中離開禪悅為食、法喜充滿這種的歡喜,而得到一種妙樂。這種妙樂,沒有法子可以形容,是微妙不可思議的。在此境界,把念頭也止住了,沒有意念,所謂「一念不生全體現,六根忽動被雲遮。」

四禪是「捨念清淨地」,到了這個境界,意念不但止住,而且也捨了。這時候,得到非常清淨、非常微妙的快樂。四禪的境界,還是凡夫的地位,尚未證果,不要以為了不起。此境界離證果尚有一段距離,應該努力去參,再接再厲去參,進一步才到「五不還天」的境界,那才是入聖人法性流。

有個無聞比丘,他參到四禪的境界,誤認為證了果位,所以到處宣傳,自己證了果。因為他對佛法不徹底了解的緣故,所以打妄語,最後墮於無間地獄。





The Secret to Success in Chan Meditation
參禪的祕訣


You should apply effort within your own nature and not seek outside.

Chan translates as "stilling the thought." It also means "thought cultivation." "Thought" refers to investigating the meditation topic. "Stilling the thought" means, "At all times, wipe it clean, and let no dust alight." "Thought cultivation" is done by means of raising the meditation topic in thought after thought and never forgetting it. As it is said, "We do it in the morning, and we also do it in the evening." You should apply effort within your own nature and not seek outside. If you follow after any external state, it is easy to go astray. Only states that arise from your own nature are true states. I hope all of you will note this point clearly. Otherwise, you will be tricked by the demon king and end up as one of his followers.

This Dharma-door of "stilling the thought" requires that you apply continuous, unrelenting effort, without any interruption. In your meditation, you should as concentrated as a mother hen sitting on her eggs. You should also be as careful as a dragon guarding its pearl. Furthermore, you must be as patient as a cat waiting outside a mousehole. Chan meditation requires determination, sincerity, and perseverance. You cannot be arrogant and assume that you're higher and better than everyone else. If you have thoughts like these, that means a demon of insanity has possessed you, and your skill will never advance.

When you cultivate Chan, you should not indulge in idle thoughts. When you have idle thoughts, you don't gain any benefit, and you waste a tremendous amount of time. Sitting in Chan requires patience and perseverance. The secret of success in Chan meditation is patience; whatever you cannot endure, you must still endure. If you can endure to the ultimate point, then suddenly you can penetrate through and experience the clarity of enlightenment. If you lack patience and cannot endure bitterness and fatigue, then you will surrender to the states that you encounter. To give in like that is a great mistake; it is the great taboo in Chan meditation!


在自己的自性上用功夫,不是向外馳求。

禪譯為「靜慮」,又為「思惟修」。思惟就是參;靜慮就是「時時勤拂拭,勿使惹塵埃」。思惟修就是教你提起話頭,念玆在玆,時刻不忘的意思。所謂「朝於斯,夕於斯」,在自己的自性上用功夫,不是向外馳求。凡是外來的境界,若是跟著它跑,便很容易走錯路。從自性生出的境界,才是真境界。這一點,希望各位要弄清楚,否則便上魔王的當,結果成了他的眷屬。

靜慮這個法門,要綿綿密密地用功,不要間斷。在用功的時候,要好像母雞在孵蛋那樣地專心,又好像龍在養珠那樣地謹慎,又好像貓在捕鼠那樣地忍耐。參禪要有堅、誠、恆的心,不可有驕傲的心。不要以為我比誰都高,比誰都強。如果有這種思想,那就是狂魔入體,功夫不會進步。

參禪的時候,不可打妄想。打妄想就沒有真實的受用,浪費大好的時光。參禪要有忍耐心、長遠心。參禪的祕訣,就是忍,忍不住也要忍;忍到極點,就豁然貫通,明朗開悟。若沒有忍耐心,不能吃得苦,不能耐得勞,遇到境界,便投降了,這種行為最要不得,是參禪的大忌。


The Vajra-King Jeweled Sword Cuts Through Idle Thoughts
金剛王寶劍斬妄想


Why can't we become Buddhas? It's simply be-cause of our idle thoughts and attachments.

Idle thoughts are a stumbling block to getting enlightened. Investigating "Who is reciting the Buddha's name?" is a Vajra-king jeweled sword which can cut through all idle thoughts. When Shakyamuni Buddha first accomplished Right Enlightenment beneath the Bodhi Tree, he said, "How strange, how strange! All living beings, without exception, possess the wisdom and virtuous characteristics of the Tathagata (the Buddha). It is because of their idle thoughts and attachments that they cannot certify to them." The Buddha clearly told us why we can't become Buddhas. It's simply because of our idle thoughts and attachments. So we must break through these idle thoughts and attachments. How do we break through them? We use the word "Who?" We drill down into it, drilling until the truth is brought to light. That's when we succeed.

When we meditate, we are investigating the question, "Who is reciting the Buddha's name?" At all times, in the ocean of our consciousness, we look into this question without cease. After doing this for a long time, there will naturally be good news. It's said,
After we sit for a long time, Chan will appear.
After dwelling somewhere for a long time, we will have affinities.

After sitting for a long enough time, we will experience the states of Chan. And when we live somewhere long enough, we develop affinities with our neighbors. We will share a harmonious relation-ship and live peacefully together. When we have investigated Chan to the point that our skill is close to perfection, not only will we be free of idle thoughts, but our temper will also be smaller, our afflictions will be fewer, our personality will be noble, and our mind capacity will also be great. At that time, wisdom will come forth. We will understand how to tell right from wrong. We will be able to clearly discriminate between good and evil. We will have washed clean our greed, hatred, and stupidity, so that only the light of precepts, concentration, and wisdom remains, revealing that the Five Aggregates are all empty.


為什麼不能成佛?就因為妄想執著。

妄想是開悟的絆腳石,參「念佛是誰?」就是一把金剛王寶劍,能斬斷一切的妄想。釋迦牟尼佛在菩提樹下,初成正覺時,便說:「奇哉!奇哉!大地眾生,無不具有如來智慧德相,但因妄想執著,不能證得。」佛明明白白地告訴我們,為什麼不能成佛?就因為妄想執著,所以要破妄想執著。如何破法呢?就用「誰」字,向下鑿,鑿到水落石出,便是成功時。

參禪,就是參這個「念佛是誰?」時時刻刻在腦海中研究這個問題,不間斷地研究。時間一長,自然有消息。所謂:
久坐有禪,久住有緣。

坐的時間久了,自然有禪。居住的時間久了,東鄰西舍自然有緣份,情感融洽,和平相處。參禪參到火候時,不但沒有妄想,而且脾氣小了,煩惱少了,人品高了,氣度也大了。這時候,智慧現前,明白是非,辨別善惡,把貪瞋癡清理得乾乾淨淨,只有戒定慧大放光明,照見五蘊皆空。