Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NGUYỄN THIÊN THỤ * BUDDHA S' MIDDLE PATH V





      PART IV
THE PRACTICE OF ZEN

      


chapter Xvii

   A SHORT history

Zen is neither a theory nor an idea; it is not an intellectual concept. It is a practice. Zen is translated as meditation. According to the Wikipedia Dictionary, meditation describes a state of concentrated attention on some object of thought or awareness. It usually involves turning the attention inward to the mind itself. The word meditation comes from the Latin meditatio, which originally indicated every type of physical or intellectual exercise, then later evolved into the more specific meaning "contemplation’’. Meditation is often recognized as a component of Eastern religions, where it has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Hinduism can be considered the oldest religion that professed meditation as a spiritual and religious practice. Yoga Devanagari is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, focusing on meditation. In India, Yoga is seen as a means to both physiological and spiritual mastery.The closest words for meditation in the classical languages of Buddhism are bhāvanā and jhāna (Pāli; Skt.: dhyāna). These words were translated into Chinese  as , 禪那 , or  禪定.
  is pronounced ch’an in Chinese while  Zen in Japan. "Zen" is the name most commonly known worldwide, it is also known as Ch’an in China, Seon in Korea, and Thi n in Vietnam.
Meditation has also become mainstream in Western culture. It encompasses any of a wide variety of spiritual practices which emphasize mental activity or quiescence.

The Bahá'í Faith teaches that meditation is necessary for spiritual growth, alongside obligatory prayer and fasting. Christian traditions have various practices which might be identified as forms of "meditation." Many of these are monastic practices. Some types of prayer, such as the rosary and Adoration (focusing on the eucharist) in Catholicism or the hesychasm in Eastern Orthodoxy, may be compared to the form of Eastern meditation that focuses on an individual object. A lot of religions such as Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Taoism also practice meditation.
Meditation has always been central to Buddhism. The Lord Buddha himself was said to have achieved enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree

The seventh and eighth items  on the Eightfold Path, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, bring us into the ambit of Meditation. Meditation is a specialized activity that helps us to fully realize the Buddha’s teachings.
Theravada Buddhism emphasizes the meditative development of mindfulness (sati, see for example the Satipatthana Sutta) and concentration (samadhi, see kammatthana), in the pursuit of Nibbana (Nirvana). Traditional popular meditation subjects include the breath (anapana) and loving-kindness (mettā).

In Japanese Mahayana schools, Tendai (Tien-tai), concentration is cultivated through highly structured ritual. Especially in the Chinese Ch’an Buddhism school  ts'o ch'an meditation(坐禅) and koan[1] meditation practices are extremely important. Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana) emphasizes tantra for its senior practitioners; hence its alternate name of Tantrayana Buddhism. 

Buddhist meditation encompasses a variety of meditation techniques that develop mindfulness, concentration, tranquility and insight. Core meditation techniques are preserved in ancient Buddhist texts and have proliferated and diversified through the millennia of teacher-student transmissions. Non-Buddhists use these techniques for the pursuit of physical and mental health as well as for non-Buddhist spiritual aims. Buddhists pursue meditation as part of the path toward Enlightenment and Nirvana



Chapter XIII

Preparations for Meditation


I. PHYSICAL POSTURES 

The basis of Zen meditation is to adopt a posture of body and mind (viewed as inseparable) that allows one to remain comfortably (relatively anyway) for long periods of time without expending significant amounts of energy. There are four postures for the practitioners: walking, standing, lying and sitting. In Zen practicing, there are four things matter: you must be still, comfortable, relaxed, and alert. You must be still because movements distract you from meditation.You must be comfortable because pain distracts. You must be relaxed because bodily tension produces mental tension. You must be alert because maintaining attention is central to meditation. Any position that allows all four factors is ideal. Generally, sitting is the best position for meditation. It is difficult to maintain sufficient alertness whilst lying down. Standing still becomes uncomfortable after a few minutes. There are valuable methods for meditating whilst walking -- but the method you are learning now requires physical stillness. 



If you want to meditate while sitting on the floor and do not have an appropriate cushion, you can fold and stack some blankets. Or if you initially find it more comfortable, you can sit on a hard chair that allows you to plant both feet firmly on the floor. 




 Different spiritual traditions, and different teachers within those traditions, prescribe or suggest different physical postures for meditation. Most famous are the several cross-legged postures, including the Lotus Position.
Many meditative traditions teach that the spine should be kept "straight" (i.e. that the meditator should not slouch). Often this is explained as a way of encouraging the circulation of what some call "spiritual energy," the "vital breath", the "life force" (Sanskrit prana, Chinese qi  , Latin spiritus) or the Kundalini. In some traditions the meditator may sit on a chair, flat-footed (as in New Thought); sit on a stool (as in Orthodox Christianity); or walk in mindfulness (as in Theravada Buddhism). Some traditions suggest being barefoot, for comfort, for convenience, or for spiritual reasons. Various hand-gestures or mudras may be prescribed. These can carry theological meaning or according to Yogic philosophy can actually affect consciousness. For example, a common Buddhist hand-position is with the right hand resting atop the left (like the Buddha's begging bowl), with the thumbs touching.


 
  half-lotus position
Quiet is often held to be desirable, and some people use repetitive activities such as deep breathing, humming or chanting to help induce a meditative state. Practitioners of the Soto Zen tradition meditate with their eyes open, facing a wall, but most schools of meditation assume that the eyes will be closed or only half-open.

Zen sitting meditation, the core of zen practice, is called zazen in Japanese (坐禅; Chinese tso-chan [Wade-Giles] or zuochan [Pinyin]). During zazen, practitioners usually assume a sitting position such as the lotus, half-lotus, Burmese, or seiza postures. Awareness is directed towards one's posture and breathing. Often, a square or round cushion (zafu, 座蒲) placed on a padded mat (zabuton, 座布団) is used to sit on; in some cases, a chair may be used. In Rinzai Zen practitioners typically sit facing the center of the room; while Soto practitioners traditionally sit facing a wall.
Meditation as a practice can be applied to any posture. Walking meditation is called kinhin經行. Successive periods of zazen are usually interwoven with brief periods of walking meditation to relieve the legs.

II. preparation  FOR PRACTICE

In order to reach the level of consciousness, you have to really work hard with your mind to prepare it to be open for the Zen experience.  If you plan to have a nice garden, you will have to do a lot of groundwork first. It is very similar to Zen work. We have to spend a long time just to prepare the ground, but preparing the ground is in itself very beneficial to us in our daily life. 
1.time
The amount of time spent daily in zen by practitioners varies. For the beginners, five minutes or more daily is beneficial. The key is daily regularity, as Zen teaches that the ego will naturally resist, and the discipline of regularity is essential. Practicing Zen monks may perform four  periods of zen during a normal day, with each period lasting 30 to 40 minutes or more hours. Find a time when other people will not interrupt your practicing.
2. space
            Many people like sitting meditation. We need a clean and peaceful room, not too hot, not too cold. Select a corner in which to meditate away from distracting devices such as radios and telephones. For the majority of people, especially for poor people, life is difficult, and we have no convenience. Moreover, our world is always noisy, especially in towns and cities today. Therefore no place is available for us. So by our firm will, we have to struggle against our difficulties and obstacles. We can practice Zen  anywhere and anytime, even on train,  airplane or in prison.
            3. Clothes.
Before meditating, dress in loose clothing and be sure to remove your shoes. You can take a wash and put on your new clothing before Zen practice.
4. Food:
            Do not eat  about two hours before and after practice of Zen.

iii. in practice

1.      before practice
Like in sport, you must warm up your body before practicing Zen. Move gently your body. Massage your face, hands and legs about ten minutes.
2.      in practice
a. Breathing
Now pay attention to the breath. Steadily breathe in through the nose, down to the diaphragm, and out through the nose without any tension. Do this several times, and then let the breath breathe itself.
b. Relax
In our meditation practice we neither amplify nor suppress thoughts and feelings. We simply experience them as they are, letting them arise, grow to maturity, and dissipate without interacting with them. The most important condition is relaxing your body and your mind.
c. Awareness
Over time, as your mind learns to quiet down and become more receptive, focusing your attention on the breath and developing a detached awareness of the various sensations, feelings and imagery that arise in the mind will naturally involve less conscious effort. Always focus on your object or subject. Do not let your mind wander anywhere.  Not to be sleepy, tired and unconscious. The Buddha taught his disciples about the practice of Zen, and the most important condition is awareness:
Dispelling covetousness for the world I abode freeing the mind. Dispelling anger I abode with a mind free of anger, compassionate to all born. Dispelling sloth and torpor abode, aware of a perception of light, mindful of cleaning sloth and torpor. Dispelling restlessness and worry abode with a mind internally appeased, cleaning the mind of restlessness and worry. Abode with doubts dispelled of merit that should and should not be done.
I dispelled the five hindrances of the mind, and wisely making the minor defilements weak, secluded the mind from sensual thoughts and demerit   [2]


3.      after practice
Before finishing your practice, do not stand up  and walk quickly.  Stay at your place few minutes, breathe slowly and move gently your body. Massage your face, hands and legs about ten minutes.



Chapter xix
        methods of  meditation
  

The practice of Zen is to develop the Bodhi Mind - the aspiration to achieve Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. On a more mundane level, perhaps we'll be able to remember past lives, walk on water (yes, that's in the ancient Buddhist scriptures, too), and stuff like that.
But the path is the goal, the journey is the destination. We don't practice to get something, we practice to cultivate wholesome states and to abandon unwholesome states.
The Buddha was asked:
What makes you different from other people?
He replied:
I am awake.
The first step to awakening is to "put mindfulness in front of you" as taught by the Buddha in the Anapanasati Sutta.   Placing mindfulness up front is a two step practice.
As taught by the Venerable Ajahn Brahm, a monk of the Theravada school, we begin Present Moment Awareness meditation by instructing our mind to:
1. Forget the past;
2. Drop thoughts of the future; and
3. Experience only the present moment. 
While seated on our meditation cushion, we can listen to birds chirping, street sounds, and so on, as long as we are only listening to the sounds of the present. We can enjoy the smell of incense as well.
Venerable Ajahn Brahm calls this practice "Present Moment Awareness" and his invaluable book, Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond discusses how to practice Present Moment Awareness in wonderful detail.
It requires consistent, day-by-day, every day practice to learn how to sit in Present Moment Awareness. It is an amazingly rewarding practice. We soon discover that the days we practice Present Moment Awareness are very different from the days we don't.
So we quickly develop a desire to practice Present Moment Awareness every day.
The first step in Zen practice, the first step to Buddhahood, is to cultivate happiness which is the same thing as cultivating mindfulness as we are about to discover. This is the way we transcend the tenth dharma realm and rise to the ninth.
We will learn what dharma realms are as we encounter them.
We cultivate happiness by practicing Present Moment Awareness. Mindfulness of the present moment produces happiness. It frees us from the past and the future. And it allows us to experience the present, a time few people ever experience, a foreign country few people ever visit.

As a preliminary practice, we can prepare ourselves for Present Moment Awareness by walking in kinhin. To walk calmly in kinhin for a few minutes is our first Zen practice each morning.
At the beginning of our kinhin, we mentally recite the Three General Resolutions of Zen:

I resolve to avoid evil.
I resolve to do good.
I resolve to liberate all sentient beings.

Reciting these three general resolutions on a daily basis at the beginning of our morning kinhin helps us plant the seeds of happiness that will lift us from the tenth dharma realm (the lowest one) and prevent us from returning to it.

We cultivate happiness every day by beginning and ending each day with kinhin. Kinhin is the practice that ties together all of our daily practices. We can think of the ten steps of this program as a kinhin sandwich because we begin the day with kinhin and we end the day with kinhin.
Even when things go crazy on some days and we can't complete the three steps of Beginning Zen, the six steps of Intermediate Zen, and the step of Advanced Zen, we can still walk in kinhin at the beginning and end of each day.
The Buddha taught us a lot of methods of meditation:

Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing, it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction. What is it? It is recollecting the Teaching, ... re ... the Community, ... re ... virtues, ... re ... benevolence,. ... re ... gods ... re ... mindfulness of in breaths and out breaths, ... re ... death, ... re ... mindfulness of the body, ... re ... mindfulness of appesement . If this single thing is recollected and made much, it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction. .  .     . If he develops the meditation object water, for the fraction of a second, it is said he abides in jhana. Has done his duties by the Teacher, and eats the country's alms food without a debt. If he makes much of that, it would be more gainful. 
445. If he develops the meditation object fire, for the fraction of a second, it is said he abides in jhana. Has done his duties by the Teacher, and eats the country's alms food without a debt. If he makes much of that, it would be more gainful. . If he develops the meditation object air, for the fraction of a second, it is said he abides in jhana. Has done his duties by the Teacher, and eats the country's alms food without a debt. If he makes much of that, it would be more gainful. .  ., .. If he develops the meditation object blue color, for the fraction of a second, it is said he abides in jhana. Has done his duties by the Teacher, and eats the country's alms food without a debt. If he makes much of that, it would be more gainful. [3]

Especially, the  Buddha  focused on  the method of breathing because it is safe. He taught Rahula:


Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.'  Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.'  

He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming bodily fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming the bodily fabrication. He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to rapture.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to rapture.'  He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to pleasure.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to mental fabrication.' 

He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to mental fabrication.'  He trains himself, 'I will breathe in calming mental fabrication.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out calming mental fabrication.'
 He trains himself, 'I will breathe in sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out sensitive to the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out satisfying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in steadying the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out steadying the mind. He trains himself, 'I will breathe in releasing the mind.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out releasing the mind.'
He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on inconstancy.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on dispassion.'5 He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on dispassion. 'He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on cessation.' 

He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on cessation.'  He trains himself, 'I will breathe in focusing on relinquishment.' He trains himself, 'I will breathe out focusing on relinquishment.'
This, Rahula, is how mindfulness of in-and-out breathing is developed and pursued so as to be of great fruit, of great benefit.
"When mindfulness of in-and-out breathing is developed and pursued in this way, even one's final in-breaths and out-breaths are known as they cease, not unknown.That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Rahula delighted in the Blessed One's words.[4]

 
In many sutras, the Buddha also emphasized this method:

How does the bhikkhu abide reflecting the body in the body? Here, the bhikkhu gone to the forest, to the root of a tree, or to an empty house, sits cross-legged, the body erect and mindfulness established in front. He mindfully breathes in and out. Breathing in long he knows, `I breathe in long.' 

Breathing out long knows, `I breathe out long.' Breathing in short knows, `I breathe in short.' Breathing out short knows, `I breathe out short.' He trains, `feeling the whole body I breathe in. Feeling the whole body I breathe out.'
He trains, `Calming the bodily determination I breathe in, calming the bodily determination I breathe out.' Just as a clever turner or his apprentice, pulling the bellows long knows, `I pull them long,' and pulling the bellows short knows `I pull them short.' In the same manner, breathing in long, knows `I breathe in long;' breathing out long, knows `I breathe out long.' Breathing in short knows, `I breathe in short,' and breathing out short knows `I breathe out short.' He trains, `Calming the bodily determination I breathe in, calming the bodily determination I breathe out.'
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally, or he abides reflecting the body in the body exterrnally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. Or he abides reflecting the arising of thoughts in the body. 




Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body, Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.
Again, the bhikkhu, going knows, `I go;' standing, knows `I stand;' Sitting, knows `I sit;' lying, knows, `I lie.' What and whatever posture the body maintains, that and that he knows.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally, or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. Or he abides reflecting the arising of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body. 

Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.
Again the bhikkhu becomes aware, going forward or turning back, looking on, or looking about, bending, or stretching, He becomes aware bearing the three robes and bowl, becomes aware enjoying, drinking, eating, or tasting. He becomes aware going, standing, sitting, lying, speaking, or keeping silence.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. Or he abides reflecting the arising of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body. Or he establishes mindfulness,

 `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.


Again, the bhikkhu abides reflecting this body up from the sole, down from the hair on the top, and surrounded by the skin as full of various impurities. 

There are in this body, head-hair, body-hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, veins, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, lower intestines, bowels, stomach, excreta, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, eye secretions, saliva, snot, oil of joints, and urine.
Just like a bag of provisions open on both sides, is filled up with various grains such as rice, paddy, green grams, beans, sesame, and fine rice. A man who could see would pull it out and reflect, This is rice, this paddy, this green grams, this beans, this sesame, and this is fine rice.û In the same manner the bhikkhu abides reflecting this body, up from the sole, down from the hair on the top, and surrounded by the skin as full of various impurities. 

There are in this body, head-hair, body-hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, veins, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, lower intestines, bowels, stomach, excreta, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, eye secretions, saliva, snot, oil of joints, and urine.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. Or he abides reflecting thoughts that arise in the body. Or he abides reflecting thoughts that fade in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body. 

Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.
Again, the bhikkhu abides reflecting this body as elements in whatever posture it is. There are in this body, the elements, earth, water, fire, and air. Just as a clever butcher or his apprentice would be seated in a hut at the four crossroads with a killed cow dissecting it into small bits. In the same manner, in this body, there are the elements earth, water, fire, and air.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. Or he abides reflecting the arising of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body.

 Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body.' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.
Again, the bhikkhu reflects this body as a dead body thrown in the charnel ground, either after one day, two days or three days, bloated, turned blue and festering. This body too is subject to that same, has not gone beyond it.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. 

Or he abides reflecting thearising of thoughts in the body, Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body, Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.
Again, the bhikkhu abides reflecting this body as a dead body thrown in the charnel ground eaten by hawks, vultures, dogs, foxes, or by various other living things. This body too is subject to that same, has not gone beyond it.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. 

Or he abides reflecting the arising of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body. Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.
Again, the bhikkhu abides reflecting this body as a corpse thrown in the charnel ground, a skeleton with flesh and blood and connecting veins. .. A skeleton without flesh, smeared with blood and connected with veins. .. a skeleton flesh and blood gone, connected by veins ... a disconnected skeleton thrown about everywhere. 

In one place a hand bone, in another a foot bone, in another a knee bone, in another a thigh bone, in another a hip bone, in another the back bone, in another the skull. This body too is subject to that same, has not gone beyond it.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. 

Or he abides reflecting the arisisng of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body. Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body.
Again, the bhikkhu abides reflecting this body as a corpse thrown in the charnel ground bones turned white like the colour of pearls, bones rotten and turned to powder. This body too is subject to that same, has not gone beyond it.
Thus he abides reflecting the body in the body internally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body externally. Or he abides reflecting the body in the body internally and externally. Or he abides reflecting the arising of thoughts in the body. Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in the body.

 Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in the body. Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a body,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the body in the body,Bhikkhus, how does the bhikkhu abide reflecting the feeling in feelings?

Here, the bhikkhu, feeling a pleasant feeling, knows, `I feel a pleasant feeling.' Feeling an unpleasant feeling, knows, `I feel an unpleasant feeling.' Feeling a neither unpleasant nor pleasant feeling knows, `I feel a neither unpleasant nor a pleasant feeling.' Feeling a pleasant material feeling, knows `I feel a pleasant material feeling.' Feeling a pleasant immaterial feeling knows, `I feel a pleasant immaterial feeling.' Feeling an unpleasant material feeling, knows `I feel an unpleasant material feeling.' Feeling an unpleasant immaterial feeling, knows `I feel an unpleasant immaterial feeling.' 

Feeling a neither unpleasant nor pleasant material feeling, knows, `I feel a neither unpleasant nor pleasanat material feeling.' Feeling a neither unpleasant nor pleasant immaterial feeling, knows `I feel a neither unpleasant nor pleasant immaterial feeling.
Thus he abides reflecting the feeling in feelings internally. Or he abides reflecting the feeling in feelings externally. Or he abides reflecting the feeling in feelings internally and externally. Or he abides reflecting the arising of thoughts in feelings, Or he abides reflecting the fading of thoughts in feelings. Or he abides reflecting the arising and fading of thoughts in feelings. Or he establishes mindfulness, `There is a feeling,' and abides not supported on anything in the world. Thus too the bhikkhu abides reflecting the feeling in feelings.
Bhikkhus, how does the bhikkhu abide reflecting the mental state in the mind?
Here, the bhkkhu with a greedy mind knows, `It is a greedy mind.' With a non-greedy mind knows, `It is a non-greedy mind.' With an angry mind knows, `It is an angry mind.' With a non-angry mind knows, `It is a non-angry mind.' With a deluded mind knows, `It is a deluded mind.

With a non-deluded mind knows, `It is a non-deluded mind.' With a non-scattered mind knows, `It is a non-scattered mind.' With a scattered mind knows, `It is a scattered mind.' With a developed mind knows, `It is a developed mind;' and with an undeveloped mind knows, `It is an undeveloped mind.' With a mind with compare knows, `It is a mind with compare.' With a mind without compare knows, `It is a mind without compare.' With a concentrated mind knows, `It is a concentrated mind.' With an unconcentrated mind knows, 'It is an unconcentrated mind.' With a released mind knows, `It is a released mind; and with an unreleased mind, knows `It is an unreleased mind.' [5]


Chapter xx

Experiences 

Zen is useful for our life and our mind.  For many centuries ago till now, a lot of religions have practiced meditation although they had different methods and goals. Zen is good for our health and mind. Zen is a path to improve ourselves.

To come to the Zen experience, you will have to do a lot of work, sitting for many years. But the time you are using in order to get to that point where you really experience Zen is not wasted, because all along on the way to the real Zen experience, you will undergo many transformations and changes -- many experiences of liberation. And that is all setting the groundwork necessary for the actual Zen experience. 

During the long time to practice Zen, what did we see, what did we feel and what is the result of Zen practice? We have different methods, different masters and different goals, therefore we will have different results. But some books give us  the same information. 

Generally, there are many benefits to be gained from "doing" Zen . First of all, you will experience a new way of looking at the world itself. And, of course,  your understanding of this world is different. And here we already begin with changing our consciousness. 

Like in sport practice, you will recognize a progress. Automatism is a character of out body and of Zen practice. In your practice you are being guided to make those experiences yourself. Very little is being taught in Zen, in terms of teaching. All that is taking place is guidance for your own mind to find its natural way to higher levels of consciousness. This is the main characteristic in Zen -- that each practitioner makes his or her own experience -- not that you are being taught a lot of theories or dogmas, but being taught what to watch out for, what to avoid, so that your mind no longer just, let us say, moves on a horizontal plane, but gradually moves higher and higher, like a spiral:
-At first, we can practice five minutes but during months and years, we can practice 30 minutes or longer.
-At first, we breathe in and out loudly but during months and years, our breath become gentle.
-At first, we feel uneasy, but little by little, we will feel easy.
-At first, our body and mind are anxious and agitated, but after a long time, we will feel peaceful and tranquil. The state of peace and tranquility lasts a minute, but later it last longer. At that time, we will feel joyful and happy a little bit.
- If you focused on a point between two eyes, you would see   light and color.
-If you focused on a point about 2 inches below the navel, your abdomen will move gently following your breath.
In practice, our body will get some feelings. Monk Zhiyi [6] in his book entitled The Fundamental Zen, stated eight phenomena that are good omens for the practitioners:
                        (1). Light: we  feel that our body is light as a cloud.
(2).  Warm.-
(3).  Cold
(4). Heavy-
(5). Moving (hands and body move gently).
(6).  Itching 
(7). Stingy
(8). Smooth    
In my opinion, there are three more states of mind while practicing Zen:
            (1). Tranquil
            (2). Joyful
            (3). Happy
The Buddha mentioned  these states in Zen practice:

-And then later on I see that by realizing it for himself with direct knowledge, he here and now enters upon and abides in the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom that are taintless with the destruction of the taints, and is experiencing extremely pleasant feelings.[7]
 
-For one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- the mind becomes concentrated. When the mind of one who is at ease -- his body calmed -- becomes concentrated, then concentration as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development  [8]

During the first period, we felt tired and painful at our legs and backbone. After a long time, five or ten years, we will feel easy.  One day, we will feel that our body suddenly stops moving. Everything is quiet, bright. It seems that we also stop breathing. That phenomenon lasts one or two minutes, and next time it will gradually increase. When the mind begins to become still, we then begin to truly see it. When you first try to stabilize and pacify the mind, initially it will become very busy because it’s not accustomed to being still. 


Eventually you will find yourself in a state where your mind is clear and open all the time. It is just like when the clouds are removed from the sky and the sun can clearly be seen, shining all the time. This is coming close to the state of liberation, liberation from all traces of suffering.  At that time, we will feel joyful and happy.  Wu (in Chinese 悟, or Japanese Satori is the spiritual goal of Zen Buddhism, roughly translates into individual Enlightenment, or a flash of sudden awareness. Satori is as well an intuitive experience. A brief experience of Enlightenment is sometimes called Kensho (見性). Semantically, Kensho and Satori have virtually the same meaning and are often used interchangeably in describing the Enlightenment of the Buddha and the patriarchs.
Before attaining Wu or Satori, we will have some experiences. Our body and mind will improve gradually:
            - We will be healthy
            - We will feel happy and active.
            - We will eliminate our bad habits
            -We can acquire some talents or powers. Some practitioners can foresee, write poems.  Anyway, like the flowers, these talents and powers do not last long.  Power is not the goal of a  Buddhist.
According to the Indian Yoga school, our body  has spinning energy centers that look like spinning wheels and are called Chakras. Each center  relates to some powers. Practicing Zen can stimulate these centers:
(1)  Chakra Seven: Crow, violet
Thought, Universal identity, oriented to self-knowledge.
(2).  Chakra Six: Third eye, Indigo
Light, Archetypal identity, oriented to self-reflection
This chakra is known as the brow chakra or third eye center.
(3). Chakra Five: Throat,  Blue
Sound, Creative identity, oriented to self-expression
This is the chakra located in the throat and is thus related to communication and creativity.
(4). Chakra Four: Heart,  Green.
Air, Social identity, oriented to self-acceptance
This chakra is called the heart chakra and is the middle chakra in a system of seven.
(5). Chakra Three: Solar Plexus,  Yellow.
Fire, Ego identity, oriented to self-definition
(6). Chakra Two: Sacral, Orange
Water, Emotional identity, oriented to self-gratification
The second chakra, located in the abdomen, lower back, and sexual organs, is related to the element water, and to emotions and sexuality.

 (7). Chakra One:Base- Red.
Earth, Physical identity, oriented to self-preservation
Located at the base of the spine, this chakra forms our foundation.


What I present above are the  phenomena and experiences of good training. One phenomenon appears  a short time then disappears. After a long time, another phenomenon appears, disappears. We will experience a lot of phenomena. Gradually, we advance and get more success. Anyway, what we gain today are only some certificates of the elementary school. The way to doctor degree is still far. We have to work hard and continue our job until we attain the Perfect Happiness.
When many people succeed in practicing Zen, the others do not.  There are many reasons for their failure:
Firstly, they do not follow the Buddha’s Middle Way in practice of Zen. Don't do too much and don't fail to do enough. We must avoid two extremes of sensual-indulgence and self-mortification; over-aroused  persistence  and overly slack persistence according the
Buddha’s teachings:
 In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme. [9]

Secondly, they follow wrong or bad methods. For example, some people focused on the sun, and looked at the sun.  We do not know whether they acquire power or not, but certainly they will be blind.
Thirdly, they do not focus firmly on their subject or object. They let their mind wander anywhere may be in Heaven or Hell.  In fact,  they are not  aware of reality, so their mind was led to illusion. Do not follow the images and voice in Zen practicing because all of them are not real.
The Surangama Sutra 首楞嚴經 warns the practitioners of fifty false states caused by the five aggregates:
In this state of dhyàna, as form vanishes and receptiveness manifests, the practiser may achieve the condition of bright purity and awaken to the profound noumenon to which he conforms, thereby suddenly experiencing infinite weightlessness. He will think that he is a saint which gives him comfortable independence. This is weightless purity which is harmless if he knows that it is not a saintly state, but if he regards it as such, he will succumb to the demon of weightless purity who will control his mind causing, him to be well satisfied with his (incomplete) achievement and to refrain from striving to advance further. He is like the untutored bhikùu who misled others and then fell into the avãci hell. He will thus lose all benefit from the dhyàna so far achieved and will  sink into the lower states.   [10]


Finally, you need guidance from somebody who has the experience, whom you can trust, and who will guide you to reach those higher levels of consciousness
Zen is reality. A number of people have gained many benefits  from  practicing Zen . The Buddha told us his experiences when he arrived at Ultimate Nirvana or Parinirvana after 49 days and nights of meditation under the Bodhi Tree:
Partaking coarse food and gaining strength, secluded from sensual thoughts and thoughts of demerit with thoughts and discursive thoughts and with joy and pleasantness born of seclusion I attained to the first jhàna. Aggivessana, even those arisen pleasant feelings did not take hold of my mind and settle. Overcoming thoughts and discursive thoughts, with the mind internally appeased, and brought to a single point, without thoughts and discursive thoughts and with joy and pleasantness born of concentration I attained to the second jhàna. Aggivessana, even those arisen pleasant feelings did not take hold of my mind and settle. 


With equanimity to joy and detachment abode mindful and aware, and with the body experienced pleasantness and attained to the third jhàna. To this abiding the noble ones said, abiding mindfully in pleasantness. Aggivessana, even those pleasant feelings did not take hold of my mind and settle. Dispelling pleasantness and unpleasantness, and earlier having dispelled pleasure and displeasure, without unpleasantness and pleasantness and mindfulness purified with equanimity, I attained to the fourth jhàna. Aggivessana, even those pleasant feelings, did not take hold of my mind and settle.
When the mind was concentrated, pure, free from minor defilements, malleable workable not disturbed, I directed the mind for the knowledge of previous births. I recollected the manifold previous births, one birth, two births, three, four, five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, innumerable forward cycles of births, innumerable backward cycles of births, innumerable forward and backward cycles of births. There I was of such name, clan, disposition, supports, experiencing such pleasant and unpleasant feelings and with such a life span.


 Disappearing from there was born there with such name, clan, disposition, supports, experiencing such pleasant and unpleasant feelings, with such a life span, disappearing from there, is born here. Thus with all modes and all details I recollected. the manifold previous births. Aggivessana, this is the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night, ignorance dispelled, knowledge arose, as it happens to those abiding diligent for dispelling. Aggivessana, even these pleasant feelings did not take hold of my mind and settle.
When the mind was concentrated, pure, free from minor defilements malleable workable not disturbed, I directed my mind for the knowledge of the disappearing and appearing of beings. With the heavenly eye purified beyond human, I saw beings disappearing and appearing un -exalted and exalted, beautiful and ugly, arising in good and bad states according to their actions: These good beings misbehaving by body, speech and mind, blaming noble ones, with the wrong view of actions, after death are born in loss, in decrease, in hell. 


As for these good beings, well behaved in body speech and mind, not blaming noble ones, with the right view of actions after death are born in heaven. Thus with the heavenly eye purified beyond human, I saw beings disappearing and appearing. Aggivessana, this is the second knowledge I attained in the second watch of the night. Ignorance dispelled, knowledge arose, as it happens to those abiding diligent for dispelling. Aggivessana, even these pleasant feelings did not take hold of my mind and settle.
When the mind was concentrated, pure, free from minor defilements, was malleable workable not disturbed, I directed the mind for the destruction of desires. Knew this is unpleasant, knew this is arising of unpleasantness, knew this is cessation of unpleasantness and knew this is the path to the cessation of unpleasantness as it really is. : Knew these are desires, knew the arising of desires, knew the cessation of desires and knew the path to the cessation of desires as it really is. I, knew and saw them and the mind was released, from sensual desires, from desires `to be', and from ignorant desires When released knowledge arose, I'm released, birth is destroyed, what should be done is done. The holy life is lived to the end. 

I knew, there is nothing more to wish. Aggivessana, this is the third knowledge, I attained in the last watch of the night. Ignorance was dispelled, knowledge arose, as it happens to those abiding diligent for dispelling. Aggivessana, even these pleasant feelings did not take hold of my mind and settle.[11]

 
             Huineng insisted on the theory of ‘’ Sudden Enlightenment while the others ‘’Slow Enlightenment’’. In my opinion, the result of our practice of Zen depends on what we do  and did  in present and in  previous lives.
The Buddha said about result of Zen practice:

Whoever bhikkhu develops these four establishments of mindfulness for seven years, could expect one of these fruits: either knowledge of extinction here and now, or become mindful of not returning with substratum remaining. Leave alone seven years, if he develops these four establishments of mindfulness for six years, five years, four years, three years, two years, one year .
Bhikkhus, leave alone one year - if he develops these four establishments of mindfulness for seven months, six months, five months, four months, three months, two months, for one month, or even half a month -- Bhikkhus, leave alone half a month, if he develops these four establishments of mindfulness for seven days, could expect one of these fruits either knowledge of extinction here and now, or become mindful of not returning with substratum remaining.
Bhikkhus, there is one single way for the purification of beings, for the ending of grief and lament, for overcoming unpleasantness and displeasure, for realizing knowledge and extinction, that is this fourfold esstablishment of mindfulness [12]

It is difficult to become the Buddha. Anyway, some people had enjoyed many experiences of happiness in practicing Zen. Huineng when he was young and his family was poor, so he did not have the chance to learn to read or write. One day, while he was delivering firewood to an inn, heard a guest reciting the Diamond Sutra and he had an awakening.
 In a book entitled The Practice of Zen, Chang Chen Chi  told us stories of some Chinese monks:

1. Monk Hàm SÖn :
When he heard The Avatamsaka Sutra (The Flower Adornment Sutra), and when he  practiced walking  Zen, he suddenly  realized that his body and the  world were empty [13]

 
2.      Monk Vô Væn 
His Zen subject  was emptiness then changed to  I want to know. One day, suddenly he felt bright, light and empty.[14]
3. Monk Tuy‰t Nham  
His Zen subject was emptiness, and he always focused on  his subject. One day, he suddenly felt cold, bright and motionless.  And for an instant, he heard nothing. About three years later, he suddenly felt that the world was bright  [15] .
We will have another experience by a lay person:

4.Mr.Tܪng Duy KiŠu.
He  was a  Chinese, a sick man,  he followed the Taoist meditation. When he was 29 years old,  he began to practice meditation. After  three months, he felt his body  moved and hot. About 85 days, he became wealthy. His story was recorded in Chinese in 1954 [16]     
            Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of life. Buddhist practices such as meditation are means of changing oneself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The experience developed within the Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow a path -- a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood.

       
Thus Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, or gender. It teaches practical methods (such as meditation) which enable people
to realise and utilise its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives and to develop the qualities of Wisdom and Compassion.  Zen is a path  to peace of mind and development  of body. Zen is the backbone of Buddhism. Thanks to Zen, we can attain wisdom and happiness.

CONCLUSION 

The Buddha  opened a new horizon for humankind because of his new thoughts. Brahmanism was an oldest religion of our world, and it highlighted the faith in God and Gods.  Gotama was a great revolutionist and a great philosopher of his era with his theory of Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path, and Dependent Origination.  He was a great moralist because of  many moral lessons in his teachings.  The Buddha’s Middle Path is the backbone of Buddhism. It advises us to avoid two extremes, to follow the right way and to unite theory with practice.

 Moreover,   Buddhism avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. Buddhism is a religion of selflessness, wisdom and compassion. Buddhism is also a religion of Peace,and Goodwill.Buddhism has influenced on this world, and contributes a great part to humankind. Thanks to Buddhism, we have a peaceful life, create a wonderful art, and a humane culture. Buddhism is a religion of freedom  and love because it has no strict organization and rules. It always opens the door for everybody, and extends its hands to all beings.

 Nguyễn Thiên Thụ
 Ottawa, 8 June , 2012
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[1] Koans: (公案) is a story, dialogue, question, or statement in the history and lore of Chán (Zen) Buddhism, generally containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet that may be accessible to intuition. Koans are often used as meditation aids, (particularly in the Rinzai tradition). For example, one koan is known as: 'Who am I', since it is this question that guides the enquiry into one's true nature. The realization that there is no 'I' that is doing the thinking, but rather that the thinking process brings forth the illusion of an 'I', is a step on the way to Kensho. Koan is a form  of seemingly absurd riddles.
[2] MN.112. Chabbisodanasuttaü.. Upalavanna
[3] AN I, 16. Ekadhammapali. Upalavanna.
[4] MN 62. Maha-Rahulovada Sutta. Upalavanna.
[5] MN I, 10 Establishing Mindfulness  Bhikkhuni Uppalavanna
[6]  Trí  Khi -  (智顗 Zhiyi ( 538-597)  the founder of Chinese Tiantai school天台. He preached the Lotus Sutra and the Nirvāa Sutra.
[7] MN.I.   12. Mahàsìhanàda sutta.    Bhikkhu Bodhi.

[8] MN. 118. Anapanasati Sutta. Mindfulness of Breathing  . Bikkhu Thanissaro

[9] AN 6.55.About Sona. Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
[10]  The Shurangama Sutra .VIII.Translated by Charles Luk .277-289.
<http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/surangama.pdf>
[11] mn I..36. The Major Discourse to Saccaka. Upalavanna.
[12] MN.  1. 10 Satipatthànasuttaü. Upalavanna.
[13] Chang Chen Chi, Pratice of Zen. Tran. by Nhu Hanh,  195- 204).
[14] Chang Chen Chi, 221
[15] Chang Chen Chi, 226.
[16] Kinh MÆt Pháp NhÃt T¿ ñà La Ni, tran. by Thích Viên ñÙc, Saigon, 1974.

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