Ten Benefits of Chan

Ten benefits of Chan are gained from proper practice.

1. Adhering to practices that bring peaceful dwelling. When we sit in meditation and investigate Chan everyday, we acquire a certain deportment. This deportment takes practice. When we investigate Chan year after year, month after month, day after day, hour after hour, and minute by minute, there are proper ways to practice.

Running meditation is one example. When it is time to do running meditation in the Chan hall, someone shouts “Run!” Everyone runs. We may run until we perspire and almost pass out. We may run until we are not aware of the heavens above, the earth below, and people in between. During running meditation we can become unaware of our self, and fundamentally, there is no longer a self. When our running meditation reaches the point that we have no notion of self and others, we will be contemplating at ease. In the absence of self, we will have no false thinking. In the absence of people, we will have no false thoughts of others. At that moment, we will be contemplating at ease.

Neither in emptiness nor in form
Does one see the Thus Come One.

The Buddha does not fall into the categories of emptiness or existence, which means he is neither empty nor does he have substance. Therefore, if we realize that the Dharma-body of the Thus Come One is neither empty nor has substance, then we have seen the Dharma-body of the Thus Come One. We arrive there by adhering to practices that bring peaceful dwelling.

2. Using kindness in what we do. This does not necessarily mean being nice to others. When it is necessary to use kindness, we should use kindness and compassion to teach and cross over the other person. We use the method of gathering in. If we encounter a sentient being who needs to be exhorted or admonished so that he can gain an awakening, we should be motivated by kindness and compassion as we exhort or admonish him. Or, in the Chan Hall, the incense board is often used to tap people into an awakening. In the Chan Hall, there are often cases of people being hit. However, this kind of hitting is different from ordinary hitting for the intention here is to enable that person to be awakened. This is for his own good because we hope that he will observe the rules and get rid of his false thoughts. That is how to use kindness in what we do.

3. The absence of the heat of regret. The heat of regret is an affliction. In regretting, the mind indulges in affliction and that generates heat. Therefore, this third benefit means to be without afflictions.

4. Safeguarding the sense faculties. This means watching over the six sense faculties. Why do we need to safeguard the six faculties? If we do not, they will run away. The eyes will be drawn to forms; the ears will be enticed by sounds; the nose will react to smells; the tongue will get involved in tastes; the body will be influenced by touch; and the mind will endulge in mental constructs. That is why we have to safeguard the six faculties until they emit light and cause the earth to quake. Why do they emit light? Light is emitted when we have no more false thoughts and our original wisdom manifests. When the light of wisdom shines throughout the trichiliocosm, the six sense faculties emit light and the earth quakes.

5. Knowing the joy of non-eating. A person who investigates Chan will obtain the joy of Chan as food and be filled with Dharma joy. When that happens, then even though we do not eat substantial foods, we will be joyful. Despite not consuming any food, we are happy so long as we can investigate Chan. Has this happened to any of you?


6. Being apart from emotional love and desire. When our minds do not entertain thoughts of emotional love and desire, then our minds are clear and pure. Emotional love and desire are defilements and defilements result in birth and death. Why do ordinary human beings like us experience birth and death? It is because we have not cut off emotional love and desire. Why do ordinary people keep revolving continuously in the six paths of rebirth without ever ending birth and death? It is because they entertain thoughts of emotional love and desire and can never stop doing so. If you cannot cut off love and desire, you cannot end birth and death. As long as we have not ended birth and death, we will revolve continuously in the six paths. If people who investigate Chan can be apart from thoughts of emotional love and desire, then the doors of hell will remain closed and they will not go there.

7. Cultivating will not be done in vain. What does that mean? It means the only thing to fear is that we will fail to cultivate. If we do cultivate, we will not pass the time in vain. When we sit in meditation for an hour, our wisdom-life will lengthen by an hour. When we meditate for two hours, our wisdom-life will extend by two hours. If we investigate Chan every moment, every hour, every day, every month and every year, our inherent wisdom will certainly become evident. Hence, Chan cultivation will never be done in vain. For as long as we cultivate, we will not pass the time in vain.

8. Remaining free of demonic karma. Cultivators can keep clear of the karmic power of demons. When we are free from the karmic obstructions of demons, no demon can disturb or hinder us in any way.

9. Dwelling peacefully in the Buddha’s realm. If we can investigate constantly, we will gain this ninth benefit of dwelling peacefully in the Buddha’s realm.

10. Gaining complete liberation. This is the benefit that everyone hopes for. Complete liberation means to be without obstructions. Having no obstructions, we realize the clear and pure Dharma-body.

Those are the ten benefits of investigating Chan.