Why Investigate Chan?

When thoughts cease, confusion ends.


We humans are born confused and die confused. We are confused while asleep and confused while awake. What value is there in that kind of life? So does that mean that we do not want to be human beings anymore? No, but we have to understand where we came from when we were born and where we will go after death. Someone may say, "I know how to find out about death. I can overdose on drugs or hang myself or jump into a river. Would I not know then?"

Suicide will not free you from birth and death. It will only increase your karmic burden. We sit in meditation in order to find a way to ensure that, when it is time for us to die, we will not suffer physical sickness, we will not crave wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep, and our minds will not be upside down. Death should be just as if we had entered into Chan samadhi. We want to pass away with a smile, be without discomfort, and have Amitabha Buddha welcome us with a golden dais. We want to be able to predict our own passing and to know of its coming in advance. We want to know the year, month, day and even the precise time when we will pass away once all our tasks have been completed.

Cultivation is just for that purpose! If we do not know about that crucial moment, then we will remain confused throughout our entire life. Nor will that confusion end with death. In death after death we will still be confused. In life after life we will be unclear. How pitiful to be perpetually confused.

The reason we practice sitting in meditation and want to learn Buddhism is because we do not want to be confused. Many people spend their time doing scientific research aimed at trying to determine the makeup and workings of the physical body so that they can reproduce it. Those who seek scientific solutions outside themselves are forsaking the roots and going after the branch tips. When we understand our original self, we will then gain great wisdom. Learning Buddhism will allow that great wisdom to unfold.


Freedom over birth and death is freedom to come and go


Those who investigate Chan can become masters over their own birth and death. They can come and go freely without any restriction. As it is said, My destiny is determined by me, not by heaven.

Even Old Man Yama will no longer have control over us! Why not? We will have transcended the Three Realms. What does freedom to come and go involve? It refers to freedom to be born and to die. If we want to live, we can live. If we want to die, we can die. The choice will be ours, as we wish. Please take note, however, that this kind of death does not mean committing suicide. This freedom allows us to relate to our physical body as we would our house. If we want to go out and travel, we will be free to go wherever we want. If we wish, we can have a hundred million transformation bodies to teach sentient beings throughout empty space and the Dharma Realm. If we do not wish to travel, we can stay in the house and no one will disturb us.

We should know that everything in empty space and in the Dharma Realm is included within the Dharma-body. Nothing can go outside the Dharma-body. All of you have gone to a lot of trouble to attend this Chan session, and to work non-stop day and night. You are doing this because you hope to gain freedom and security over birth and death. You want to control your own life and to be your own master. Being able to do that is truly the state of freedom over birth and death. In investigating Chan, you need to reach the state of not knowing that there is sky above, earth below, and people in between. You need to become one with empty space. Then there is some hope for enlightenment. Right now, walking and sitting, sitting and walking provide the key that will open our wisdom.


The great functioning of the entire substance is clearly understood


If we do not investigate Chan and do not practice sitting in meditation, we will continue not to know where we came from at birth and where we will go after death. Not knowing those things, we will again be born and die in confusion. To keep living lives in that manner is indeed pitiful!

Those who work hard at Chan practice can awaken and recognize who they were before their parents gave birth to them. They will suddenly see everything very clearly. They will understand in fine detail the ins and outs of all matters. They will fathom the great functioning of the true mind. Those who realize such a state are destined to attain the fruition of Buddhahood. In the future they will attain unsurpassed, right and equal enlightenment.


By investigating Chan and sitting in meditation, we can gain enlightenment


How do we get enlightened? Enlightenment is like unlocking a door that has been restricting our entry and exit. We need a key to unlock that door. Without a key, we will remain locked up in this room forever. So, where is the key? It is right there with you. It is very easy to find. How will you find it? You can do so by investigating Chan and sitting in meditation, or by chanting the Buddhas' names and holding mantras. Practicing in those ways is equivalent to searching for the key. When will you find it? That depends on your stage of cultivation. If you practice with vigor and fortitude, you will find it very quickly. But if you are lazy and lethargic, you will never find it, not just in this life, but even in future lives you will not find it. This is a very simple principle.


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We want to learn how not to be attached to self and others


All things come to life,
each time spring returns.
Shatter empty space, be free and at ease.
Break attachments, let self and others go.
Expand to fill the Dharma Realm,
however vast that is.

When we investigate Chan, we have the chance to be enlightened. The brightness of our self-nature will shine forth just as when spring returns to the great earth and everything comes to life again. Empty space is originally without shape. When even this shapeless void has been shattered, one becomes free. From then onwards, one no longer attaches to the mark of others or the mark of self. The Dharma Realm may be large but we can still encompass it. Having done that, will we not be great heroes?


Meditation and samadhi are vital to our Dharma-body


Sitting in meditation and cultivating samadhi is like feeding our Dharma-body. The physical body needs to be fed and clothed, needs to sleep, and is always busy working to achieve these needs. One cannot go without food, clothes, and sleep for even one day. Everyone is the same in this respect. We cannot do without any one of these things. But our Dharma-body also needs food, clothes, and sleep. Sitting in meditation provides our Dharma-body with natural food. By absorbing the true nutrients from empty space, our Dharma-body will thrive. Entering samadhi gives our Dharma-body essential rest. If we never enter samadhi, our Dharma-body gets no rest. And finally, our Dharma-body must be clothed in tolerance. Meditation and samadhi are vital to our Dharma-body. When we meditate long enough our Dharma-body will taste the flavor of Dharma and can absorb the true goodness of empty space.

The physical body needs these three items, and so does the Dharma-body. When we cultivate, we should clothe our Dharma-body in our own tolerance. We should enter the Thus Come One's abode by entering samadhi. And ultimately we should ascend to the Thus Come One's seat. This is how we should nurture the Dharma-body every day.


Sitting long brings Chan, which cleanses and purifies the mind


The aim of sitting in meditation is to open our wisdom. Enlightenment is the opening of our wisdom. With wisdom, we will no longer be confused, the way we have been in the past. If we sit without moving and our mind does not wander, we can enter samadhi. When we have samadhi, our wisdom will naturally open up and all our problems will be solved effortlessly. The Buddha is not very different from an ordinary person.

The difference is that he has great wisdom. Great wisdom accesses spiritual penetrations whereupon the mind and spirit have no obstruction. Wisdom and spiritual penetrations are dual and yet not dual, but they are not the supernatural power of ghosts. Ghostly penetrations arise from using the perceptive minds' deduction. Ghosts may think that they are intelligent, but they are not. Real wisdom does not require thinking. When we gain real wisdom, our knowledge of things comes naturally, and we can exercise it freely. When we have wisdom, we fully understand all things. Without wisdom, all things become upside-down. Things may be upside-down, yet one who lacks wisdom is still unaware of that. If one knows one's mistakes, one may still be saved. However, if one was unaware of one's mistakes, what results will bring real suffering!

If we want to leave suffering and gain happiness, we must have wisdom. With wisdom, we need not suffer anymore. If we understand this principle, we can avoid any more afflictions. Actually, this reasoning is very simple. However, Chan sitting requires time. As it is said,

Practice sitting for a long time and
Chan will appear.
Live in one place a long time and
affinities will develop.

Investigating Chan actually cleanses and purifies our minds. Stilling thoughts is a process of calming down our thoughts and getting rid of all the defilements. This is exactly what Venerable Master Shen Xiu meant when he said,

Time and again brush it clean,
and let no dust alight.

If we understand this principle, we should make determined effort in our Chan practice. Everyone must strive hard and be patient. Though our legs may get sore and our back may ache, we must endure that pain. Remember,

If the plum tree did not endure cold
that chills to the bone,
How could the fragrance
of its blossoms be so sweet?


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為什麼要參禪?

意不顛倒不再糊塗


我們人生來糊塗,死去糊塗;睡也糊塗,醒了也糊塗。這樣活著有何價值?那麼是不是不要做人呢?不是,但你要明白生從何來?死從何去?有人說﹕「我知道怎樣死去;或服藥、或上吊、或投河,不就知道嗎?」這叫自殺,不但不能解脫,反而增罪業。因此,打坐要想辦法,將來臨終時如何身無病苦,心不貪戀(不貪財色名食睡﹚,意不顛倒,如入禪定。或含笑而逝,或悠然而逝,或見彌陀佛手執金臺來相迎,人對生死有把握,預知時至,知道哪一年,哪一月,哪一日,乃至哪一時辰圓寂,知道這一生的事情辦好了。修行就是為這個!若不知道這最後一關,則糊塗一輩子。也不是說死了就完了,要是這樣,下一輩子仍然糊塗,再下一輩子仍是糊塗,如是者永遠糊塗,多可憐啊!

我們打坐、學佛,就是想不糊塗,想真正明白本身的化學工廠,如何把這化學工廠建立起來,研究真科學之所以然。你到外面去找科學,是捨本逐末。 你把本身明白了,才得大智慧,學佛即是學大智慧。


生死自由來去自由


參禪的人,對於生死自己能做主宰,來去自由,不受任何限制,所謂「性命由我不由天」,就是閻羅老子也管不了,對你無可奈何!為什麼呢?因為你已經出離三界的緣故。

何謂來去自由?也就是生死自由,愛活就活,愛死就死,隨心所欲,可是要注意,這種死並不是自殺,也不是服毒。

我們的身體,好像房子,願意外出旅行,到什麼地方去,都是自由。願意化 身千百億,盡虛空遍法界去教化眾生,任運自如;不願意旅行,就在房子住, 沒有人來干涉。要曉得盡虛空遍法界,都在法身中,沒有跑到法身之外邊。

大家辛辛苦苦來參禪,晝夜不停來用功,就希望生死自由,能控制自己的生命,對生死有把握,能做得主,那才是得到生死自由的境界。參禪的人,參到上不知有天,下不知有地,中不知有人,與虛空合而為一,到了這種境界便有開悟的曙光了。行行坐坐,坐坐行行,便是開智慧的鑰匙。


全體大用了然明白


如果不參禪,不打坐,生從何處來?死往何處去?不知道。不知道就糊糊塗塗生來,又糊糊塗塗死去,這樣一輩子,多麼可憐!用功參禪的人,開了悟,認識父母未生之前的本來面目,豁然貫通,則眾物之表裏精粗無不到,而吾心之全體大用無不明。得到大造大化的境界,將來能成就佛果,得到無上正等正覺的地位。


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參禪打坐才能開悟


人怎樣才能開悟呢?開悟好像開鎖一樣。鎖能把門鎖上,禁止你出入,你一定要有一把鑰匙,才能把門鎖打開,否則,將永遠被禁在屋中。那麼這把鑰匙放在哪裏?就在你自己的身邊,很容易找到。怎樣去找呢?你現在參禪打坐,念佛持咒,就是在找鑰匙。什麼時候能找到呢?就要看你自己的修行程度而定。如果精進,很快就找到;如果懈怠,就永遠找不到,不但今生,即使來生也找不到。這種道理非常簡單。


從此不落人我相


大地春回百物生 粉碎虛空自在翁
從此不落人我相 法界雖大盡包容

我們參禪就有機會開悟,自性光明現前,猶如春回大地百物滋生。虛空本來是無形的,無形的虛空也被粉碎,你就得自在了。從此不再執著人相,做到人相空,我相也空。法界雖然大,我也能包容,豈不是成大丈夫嗎?


打坐入定法身復活


坐禪修定,是給我們法身之食糧。肉身天天要吃飯、穿衣、睡覺,忙忙碌碌,為衣食睡奔波。一天不吃飯也不行,一天不穿衣也不行,一天不睡覺也不行。這三件事皆不可少缺,每人都這樣,缺一不可。可是,法身也要吃、穿、睡。打坐就是給法身天然的飲食,吸收虛空裏的真營養品,令法身增長健康。打坐若入定了,就是法身在睡覺、休息;若不入定,法身仍然沒有睡覺、休息。法身的衣服是忍辱,能入定,法身就復活。靜坐久了,法身就能得到法味,能吸收虛空所含之真營養品。人肉身需要這三種東西,法身亦需要。我們修行,天天要著忍辱衣、入如來室(入定﹚、升如來座,這個法身不能一天不滋養他的。


久坐有禪清淨其心


坐禪的目的就是要開智慧,所謂開悟也即是開智慧。有了智慧,就不會像從前那麼顛倒,你若坐在此處身不動、心不動,便能入定;有了定,自然開智慧,而一切問題也迎刃而解了。

佛沒有什麼地方與旁人不同之處,只是他有大智慧。大智慧,也即是神通,精神通達一切。智慧與神通二而不二,但這不是鬼通。鬼通是用自己的識心揣測,自命聰明,其實不是聰明。真正的智慧不用想,是自然知道,任運自在的。你有智慧,一切通達;若無智慧,則事事顛倒。明明是顛倒,自己還不知;若知道做錯了,尚有得救;若做錯了而又不知,就是很苦啦!

我們若想「離苦得樂」,我們就要有智慧,有了智慧便不再苦了。若明白了這個道理便不會生煩惱。其實這道理很簡單,但坐禪必要拿出時間來,所謂「久坐有禪,久住有緣」。參禪,即是清淨其心;靜慮,是要把思慮平靜,把思慮收拾乾淨。這就是神秀大師所謂的「時時勤拂拭,勿使惹塵埃」,把這道理懂了,便能立志修禪。

各位要努力,要拿出忍耐心。腿痛腰痠也要忍。所謂「不受一番寒徹骨,怎得梅花撲鼻香?」