圖 / 三乘佛學院文 / 文獻中心
CHAN IS COMING HOME
Chan is the return of our heart and mind to its home. It is a matter of transmission of experience and not of intellectual knowledge. Chan does not rely on thinking, but is about pure and constant awareness. We human beings are composed of thoughts, consciousness and memories, and these stored up memories and thoughts keep our mind constantly busy with the production of new thoughts, using mental analysis and discrimination, never giving it some rest. Our hearts become very unsettled as a result of this.
What do we need to do in order to change this system of stored up memories and function of our consciousness, so that we can let our thoughts return back to our original mind? Many people may not agree with this, but our thoughts are not our original Self: they are just layers and layers of baggage. If we want to return to our origin, we need to let go of the baggage, throw it out, clear it out completely, over and over again. We practice Chan meditation to clear out the baggage. We simply do it over and over again, constantly returning home, persistently clearing out the baggage, steadily returning back to the origin. Our most original Self is called Nirvana, which is the realm of no birth and no death. Our original Self neither gets old nor dies. Why is that so? This is so because it is not a thing; it is without any form, any distinguishing marks or characteristics. It is just itself, and it does not die.
Now some may want to ask: “How is it possible to become a Buddha through meditation?” To answer this question I’ll give you story about Chan Master Mazu Daoyi, one of the great ancestors of the Chan tradition. He came from a very poor farmer’s family and became a monk at a very young age, unfailingly sitting in meditation every single day. One day his teacher asked him: “What are you doing?” Mazu answered, “I am practicing meditation – I want to become a Buddha!” Thereupon his teacher picked up a brick and started polishing it, day after day, day after day…. Mazu, sitting in meditation, started to wonder about this strange behavior of his teacher and asked him: “Master, why are you rubbing this tile every single day – what do you want to do with it?” His teacher responded: “I want to make this tile into a mirror.” “How can a tile become a mirror through polishing?” Mazu asked. “If my polishing cannot make the tile into a mirror, then how can your sitting make you a Buddha?” his teacher replied.
This is called “Wisdom Chan” or “Daily Life Chan.” My hope is that we can become enlightened through daily life, that it teaches us to understand, to let go and live fully and realistically. If we want a real life, we need to be able to really face ourselves. If we really want to face ourselves, we need to practice Chan, because it is in the practice of Chan that we find our true Self, our real home and return back to it, enjoying the life of the spirit.
The material world entices us to live our life in pursuit of material things, but material things can never truly satisfy us, because they don`t ever give our heart and mind a complete rest. Only the experience of spiritual joy can give us a true understanding of the problem of material culture. Therefore spend some time with yourself, spend some time to understand yourself, and spend some time to get in touch with yourself. Let yourself constantly return home, and become your true Self. That needs a bit of time and practice.
Dharma Master Hsin Tao
(Translated by Maria Reis Habito)