Buddhist Meditation
Systematic and Practical


A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi

Written Down by

First Published in 1967





The subject matter of this appendix is to be found in all three yanas, but in the Vajrayana it is called "Inductive Yoga" and in Chan, "Daily Life Chan." We may conveniently call both by our common title which has become quite well-known now.


Daily Life Chan is yoga in the position of consequence, but Inductive Yoga is found in all three "C"'s. Even in Hinayana and Mahayana, the practitioner should integrate all the affairs of everyday life into his yoga practice. Among persons with no religion, the main thing in life is money and how, with that money, to acquire great wealth. The religious man is different. For him, time is most important and all his time is spent in religious work, except when resting between his meditations; and even rest-periods should be utilized to complement the meditation. In this subject we should first know the principle and after that the practice.


A. Principle


This first part is a guide from which one may know how to take all the various affairs of daily life and bring them into a yogic discipline.


1. From his wisdom of hearing and thinking, the yogi should establish the Buddhist philosophy of life and of the universe, and no other thoughts should be allowed to mix with this one, centered on Buddhist principles. Most Buddhists have not read many Buddhist books or established the Buddhist philosophy of life and of the universe, but still they may try to practice some "meditation." Such people cannot even talk about daily life yoga, let alone practice it, because they lack the essential basis for it.


2. A Buddhist should declare to all society: "Now I am a Buddhist and my character is under the guidance of the Buddha. My life is therefore changed and I shall no longer do evil things, but strive only to do good according to the Buddhist sila." Such a declaration may encourage him really to make an effort "not to do evil and to learn to do good (Dhammapada 183)." This is an important point for laymen.


Giving an example of what must not be done, Mr. Chen said:


There are some in the West who still cling to ideas of an absolute Creator God while trying to practice Buddhist meditationssuch a half-and-half belief can only do harm and will not prove really beneficial.


As for bhiksus, they are already wearing the Buddhist monk's robes, so what they do is naturally according to Buddha's principles.


3. Try to develop bodhicitta. If there is no basis for this already established in one's regular meditations, how can one take up daily life yoga?


4. A meditator should know very exactly what his or her position in the three yanas of Buddhism is. What is he or she able to practice, the Hinayana, Mahayana, or Vajrayana? One must examine oneself carefully and without any self-deception decide exactly which yana's meditations are suitable, and one will then know one's meditation position.


5. According to one's meditation position, one should develop a central thought:


a. If one is in a position to practice Hinayana, then one should establish a central thought of Hinayana, that is, one centering on impermanence, renunciation, the precepts, and the non-self of persons. These four are most important for establishing this central thought—and with it nothing conflicting or worldly should be mixed. One's daily life then centers upon and is guided by this.


b. If one is very skilled in the Hinayana, one should progress into Mahayana. Then one should make the sublimation in Mahayana meditation into his central thought. Such a person must:


i. Try to meditate on the sunyata of Dharmakaya and thereby recognize that there is no difference between oneself and others, love and hate, right and wrong, or good and evil. All these are in the sunyata of Dharma-nature and knowing this constitutes one's first step.


ii. From this one will see the suchness (tathata) of Dharmakaya sunyata and will establish in the mind that "I" and "others" are in harmony, because all are in the same entity of the Dharmakaya.


iii. From this same entity of Dharmakaya, a meditator will establish his or her true relation to other beings. By this causation of sunyata one perceives that all are in the same body—the Dharmakaya—and thus all creatures are one's parents, whirling on and bound to the wheel of samsara. From this realization arises the great compassion of the same entity.


iv. From this great compassion issue out the bodhicittas of will and of conduct, enabling one to do many good deeds such as those emphasized in the six paramitas, and doing all without becoming tired.


These constitute the main principles of Mahayana upon which an advanced yogi must center.


c. When one's practice of Mahayana is quite perfect, then one should take the path of Vajrayana. One would at this time know that from the Great Pride of Buddhahood come many good deeds to help others and that to accomplish them there are methods in the position of consequence. The Great Pride and the functions of a Buddha are one's central thought here.


These are the three main principles of practice, and our discussion of daily life yoga must be harmonized with and guided by them. Without a thorough realization of these principles, talk about daily life yoga is foolishness.


B. Practice


Under this section we can only show a few examples selected from each of the three yanas. A meditator who follows the whole system of this book will find that conditions change, even from day to day, so that he will only be able to practice the different principles progressively. Therefore, we cannot lay down any "wooden" rule for these examples and we should emphasize that in their practice constant reassessment and flexibility are required.


First, then, we introduce a mixture of the principles of the three yanas in the three positions and after that give examples of daily life yoga in Chan.


1. Waking Up


When preparing to get up, the first step is to awaken the mind. This is the main thing necessary for without it one will never rise. If one practices the Vajrayana, many dakinis with damarus (small hand-drums) may be heard calling out to one with loud voices. If one is a Mahayana meditator many heavenly women playing music may awaken the mind. One who practices the Hinayana will probably not see forms but may hear a heavenly voice—even that of the Buddha himself.


Anyway, whatever the yogi's stage, a sound will awaken him, calling: "bhiksu, yogi—so many sentient beings await salvation; so many good deeds are to be done; so many Buddhas are waiting to see your Full Enlightenment—Thus with so much remaining to be done, get up early!"


A bodhisattva should get up to do the many good actions necessary in the Saha world, while arhat, bhiksus must hear the voice of the Buddha calling out to them: "Wake up to the Mahayana way!" At this time of the day, a meditator may get some short, powerful, or even amazing instructions.


2. Opening the Eyes


The eyes must be opened after the mind is thoroughly awake. During awakening, lie on the back; do not open the eyes while lying on one side. When the mind is awake, think to oneself, "The Buddhas, dakinis, and gods are so merciful to me; if I were not called by them I might die in my sleep."


In Hinayana think, "All things are impermanent and I am very fortunate to be able to get up again. Should I not take advantage of my waking and get up early?"


Then prepare to open the eyes. First take a long and deep breath and then several short ones like a dog sniffing. In this way the air seemingly penetrates the entire skull and freshens the mind. Under the still-closed eyelids, revolve the eyes three times to the right and then three times to the left (this rids one of eye-troubles). Then vigorously rub first the inside corners of the eyes and then the outside ones, after which open them widely and look up at the sky or ceiling. If one is old and has eye trouble, one should first say, "Praise to the sun-god; praise to the moon-god; Namo Suvarna-prabhasa." This will cure eye diseases but if one is not afflicted by these troubles then the prayer is not necessary.


3. Sitting Up


If the yogi practices the Vajrayana or Great Perfection then he should sit in the lion posture (simhasana) and visualize the median channel. From the heart emerge five red "A"'s which fly upwards out of the Buddha-hole in a straight line and stop five feet above the head. Meditate upon this with the thought that this arouses the Great Perfection view, until it becomes very vivid. Then four white "A"'s appear under the red ones. These symbolize the smoothly flowing current of the Great Perfection meditation, as though the mind were smooth as water. Three green "A"'s then take their position, showing that in the Great Perfection one may do every meditation freely and without any obstacle, just as the wind goes where it pleases. Two yellow "A"'s make the Great Perfection very firm like the earth. One blue "A" shows that the accomplished yogi's mind has the nature of sunyata, like the sky. These five different colors are kept in one straight line of five feet. Then again, visualize that the red "A"'s contract into the white ones, the white ones into the green ones, the green ones into the yellow ones, and the yellow ones into the blue one. Then withdraw the blue "A" into the heart.


If one only practices the common Vajrayana and not the Great Perfection, then establish one's sitting position and with folded hands repeat the vowels and then the consonants (of the Sanskrit alphabet):


Vowels: A, A:, I, I:, U, U:, RI , RI :, LI, LI:, E, EI, O, OU, ANG, A.


After this, repeat the yidam's incantation, and think that every Buddha's wisdom has bestowed on you the capacity to practice meditation without any ignorance.


4. Dressing


Whatever yidam the meditator has taken, one should think of all one's clothes as belonging to that yidam. With a mind of good will say, "May all sentient beings take the perfection of patience as their clothing and the perfection of diligence as their armor." By so doing one will never suffer hunger or thirst and will escape the effects of past miserliness, always receiving the warm benevolence of the Buddhas.


5. Putting On One's Shoes


In Vajrayana, there is the mantra: OM KAPILA KON SVAHA, which is recited at this time, while blowing on the soles of the shoes. Any small animal which is killed by being stepped upon will thus be saved from repeated birth in the unhappy realms.


A Mahayanist may exclaim, "May I not kill any living being under my feet today," and think regretfully, "I have not yet gained realization as great as the venerable Atisha's, for he always walked two inches above the ground." Also, one may think, "May all sentient beings hear the name of the Buddha and themselves become as the "Greatest Among Bipeds" (the Buddha)! May they and I walk on the great Bodhi path!"


If one practices the Hinayana, it is right to think: "May I tread the Noble Eightfold Path and be able to realize the Four Noble Truths!"


6. Washing


While washing the hands and face, a Vajrayanist will repeat the Mantra of Wang: OM SARVATATHAGATA ABHIKINKATA SAMAYASIHA HUM SVAHA, and think of his own and all others' sins washed away, fervently praying that he may never break the precepts. Also may all sentient beings get the nectar from the Buddha which will irrigate the bodhicitta until one gets Full Enlightenment.


7. Brushing the Teeth


Think of the water as the nectar of the Buddha and the brush as washing away the karma of the four kinds of evil speech. Think, "Today may I not use any of them! May I not quarrel with anybody! May all quarrels be finished by this yoga, and today may I only speak words of truth and friendliness!"


8. Shaving


When one shaves, think, "May I cut off the roots of the sorrows, and may all sentient beings have the chance to become bhiksus!"


9. In the Bathroom


While urinating, repeat the mantra: OM O MUDSA AHA LIBE SVAHA; and think, "May this urine be transformed into fragrant drink to offer to the deity Ucchusma!" He rules over the many hungry ghosts congregating in lavatories, cesspools, and other dirty places, ever seeking food, which at the moment of eating they find is only water and dung. With the above mantra one offers this to them transformed into really nutritious food. A meditator who does this will be without disease or obstacle.


Mr. Chen then related that when the Buddha had lain down before his Mahaparinirvana, a mantra came out of his heart and, leaving the left side of his body, vanished towards the latrines. So compassionate was he for the salvation of even these wretched ghosts.


When moving the bowels, the mantra: OM O BIDSA AHA LIBE SVAHA should be used to convert it into fragrant food. When the waste has left the body, one should think, "Just as I have practiced the hundred-syllable mantra to purify the body and mind, so may this body be purified by ejecting the stool and the waste transformed to feed these ghosts!"


10. Walking


When doing this, keep one's guru in mind and visualize him as seated either on the head or on the shoulder. Walk upright, straight, and without delusion. Think, "May all sentient beings walk on the way of the bodhisattva and accomplishing the ten stages freely and quickly, and may they achieve the goal of Buddhahood!"


11. Ascending and Descending


Whether it is stairs, steps, a ladder, or a mountain, with a mind full of good will think while ascending, "May all sentient beings, whatever stage of the bodhisattva path they are on, never fall down!" While descending, think, "May all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas never forget sentient beings! May they descend from their transcendental spheres and heavens to save them!"


12. Sweeping


Think of all the dirt in the world: "May it be swept away, and no one gather the dirt of the poisons!"


13. Drinking Tea


Say before drinking: "OM AH HUM," and take a drop of it on the fingers, offer it to the Buddhas, and then flick it off. By the mantra, the remainder which one drinks has become nectar.


14. Eating Rice


One should offer some of it first. Then meditate: "Today I hold this rice-bowl but even tomorrow I may not be able to do so." In this way, develop the idea of impermanence. Also renounce delicious tastes and textures of the food, regarding it as medicine to keep the body fit for meditation practice. If one thinks of it in the ordinary worldly way, then it is like poison. Think of the grace of the patron who has so generously given this food for one's maintenance.


There is a hymn in Chinese which is always repeated before taking food:


Though from a patron I accept

One grain of rice, there's cast

A dharma-burden on my back

That weights like mountain vast.


Oh, if I do not practice well

And thus sambodhi gain,

May I become my patron's hen

And suffer grievous pain.


This is the Hinayana idea. The Mahayana follower reflects, "Whatever food I take is only for accomplishing the first three paramitas and for the realization of sunyata. If I had practiced very diligently then I would be able to get food from meditation, and there would be no need for me to worry about worldly foods; because of this, I am ashamed to take food from my patrons. As I take their food, I will also take on myself the fruits of their misdeeds, at the same time increasing their good deeds by accepting their food offerings."


If a patron has offered meat, then a practicing Vajrayanist will pronounce the meat-mantra or the usual OM AH HUM, which will have the effect of liberating that dead animal from evil births and converting the meat into nectar. Thus, one has a good chance to help that animal and one should declare: "When I am a Fully Enlightened Buddha, by this karmic connection may that animal become one of my disciples!"


Then one reflects on one's indebtedness both to the patron and to the animal—how then would it be possible not to practice meditation diligently?


When he was given an egg, a Chan monk spoke the following verse:


Though you have neither bone nor hair

Within are Heaven and Earth, the pair,

I'll bring you safe unto the Pure Land,

And free you from cook's killing hand.


This is not an excuse for a vegetarian to take eggs, for that Chan monk was very spiritually accomplished. Once he took some chicken and then vomited out a live hen, minus one leg which had been stolen by his servant. If you can do the same with either eggs or chicken, then you may eat them both—without such accomplishments, it is better to keep strictly to a vegetable diet.


From taking food carefully and thoughtfully, two qualities may be strengthened: the mental attitudes of gratitude and regret. Here I have my own experience: when I was living in a cave, I was taking only a little rice and no vegetables as they were not available. From fifty miles away, a lady to whom I was distantly related brought me some beef. Then I noticed that greed had arisen in me. "What is the use," I thought, "of being a hermit and finding that on the first temptation to take tasty food, strong desires for it are stirred up?" So I threw that offering, disgusted, on the table. The lady asked me why I behaved like that and I told her. She nevertheless cooked the food for me and then went away. Even in a cave, a hermit may still get some offering, so he should first develop full renunciation, so that this sort of thing would not happen to him. If, after two years of hermit life, one suddenly has a craving for meat, then one knows that renunciation is not very strong. Always keep renunciation, even when one is offered something good. If one takes it, then it should be offered to the Buddha, thinking, "O Blessed One, you are my teacher. My religion is the way you have shown, and your teaching is the way of renunciation. Therefore, please accept this proffered gift!"


In the Buddhist fire-sacrifice, the good and precious things which have been offered by patrons are all consigned to the flames and not a scrap of anything is kept for oneself. Even the merit of performing the sacrifice is transferred to the patron. This I do often.


In daily life one has many contacts with others, as when one receives food offerings. Have the habit of offering everything and do not think of oneself as a hermit, and therefore quite independent of others. After one has offered the gift to the Buddha, then he gives it back again, so that when one takes it one has in addition gratitude to the Enlightened One and of course, dedicates the merits of having made this body fit for Dharma-work over to the patron.


When cloth or other useful things are given, one should proceed in the same way. With any gift presented by any person, remember to pronounce OM AH HUM, thus making the merits available to others:


OM—transforms the offerings into endless abundance;

AH—purifies them;

HUM—transforms them into nectar.


Whatever food is offered, do not take it all; share it also with birds, dogs, and any other creatures. First offer it to the Buddha and then renounce a part of it for the animals.


After taking food, the bowl has to be washed. Here one should know that there was a certain Dharma-protector who vowed to the Buddha to protect his disciples if only they would give to him the water from washing-up. To dedicate the waste water to this protector, there is the mantra: OM WUCHITSA PALINDA KAKA KAHI KAHI. I do this every day with the thought: "Please take this." I offer it with both hands and pour it on the ground. If a dog comes, some spirit may be with it, so do not drive the animal away. In fact, one should let any creature take it.


There are more reasons for offering food or drink before taking it oneself, as the following story shows. A monk in Tibet was once passing through a mountainous area. An evil spirit of that place transformed itself into the shape of a female wine-seller, but what was sold as wine was really poison. The monk, after toiling over such a rough road, was very thirsty. Seeing the wine, he wanted to drink some. He took a glass of it, raised it to his lips, and then, just in time, remembered to offer it first. He pronounced OM AH HUM, and then saw the true poisonous nature of the wine. If he had not remembered to make the offering, he would have died.


Some persons also give with a concealed intention—they desire you or want to get something from you. For this purpose they may present a yogi with charmed food over which a spell has been spoken. If one greedily takes it all oneself, then one is cursed and falls into their power. On the other hand, if one offers the food and only takes part of it, then only a partial effect is possible.


In general, OM AH HUM is the complete safeguard and no harm can come after it has been pronounced.


15. Giving Alms


If a beggar asks for alms, then one should give to him to the best of one's ability. It is not proper to consider first whether or not he is a Buddhist or whether you are rich or poor. Do not think about what a beggar's religion is, just give to him. While giving alms to a non-Buddhist, but through my almsgiving, some day he may become a Buddhist. Some beggars not only ask for money, but carry with them the image of their god and know his mantra. Therefore, one should think: "He is willing to take my offering so he should also take my refuges." At the same time be careful of some beggars who have obtained certain powers with their mantras, and while giving to them, protect yourself by taking the refuges. Thus, we see that refuge-taking at the time of almsgiving to beggars has two advantages, one for the beggar and one for the practitioner.


One should not be small-minded about giving alms, but contribute to all impartially.


16. Travelling


Suppose one is travelling and encounters obstacles; for example, when one is walking and sees potentially dangerous objects on the path, such as broken glass, banana peels, or stones, then one should remove them and with good will think: "May the Buddha remove all obstacles along the eight-fold noble paths!"


If you see some paper with words on it, take it and put it in a higher place with this idea: "May these words be used in Buddhism to manifest the truth!" For this reason, such pieces of paper should not be stepped on. When one sees paper of the same color as one's yidam, then think: "Oh, this is my yidam's color, and certainly should not be trampled underfoot."


If one is in a car or bus, visualize the vehicle as rolling forward on Dharma-wheels, and causing no harm or injury to anyone. From my own practice, I have a story: I was a professor of two colleges, one in the North and one in the South of the city. When I took the bus to go from one to the other, I would sit down and visualize as I have described, while inwardly repeating OM MANI PADME HUM, the wheels of the vehicle becoming the revolutions of the mantra. As I did this, I concentrated my mind on mercy, thinking that not even a small ant should suffer under the wheels.


One day, travelling in this way, I met a professor of biology and started to converse with him. I forgot to repeat the mantra, but soon after, I distinctly heard a heavenly voice, "Why do you not repeat the mantra?" Hurriedly recollecting myself, I had barely repeated it twice when I heard the screeching of brakes and the cursing of the driver. An old person had stepped into the road and nearly been run over. As it was, the victim suffered little harm, but could easily have been killed.


To repeat a mantra and to visualize in this way is a small thing to do but indeed has great results in saving others. It is possible to use the mantra of any yidam for this purpose.


17. In a City


When one passes through the streets of a city, many beautiful things are to be seen, such as gorgeous objects or luscious foods. If a greedy thought arises in the mind, think: "These things are too good for me and should be offered to the Buddha." Maintain at this time the mind of renunciation.


If one can meditate in the Mahayana way, one may see all these material objects as shadows. This may be done very nicely in the case of clothing shops, where the live owner and his plastic dummies may sometimes be seen side by side. Depending on the force of one's meditative power, one may see both the live person and the models quite clearly as shadows.


18. Meeting Old People


When one meets with an old or dying person, think as the Buddha did: "These are all signs offered to me by the gods, as reminders that one day I will also die." If a meditator practicing the Vajrayana comes to a dead or dying person, phowa should be practiced to help them gain a good rebirth.


19. Meeting the Sick


Going to the hospital to help the poor and sick is, of course, better than going to the houses of rich and healthy patrons. When a Hinayana yogi sees these patients, he should recite the sutra of protection (paritrana). A Mahayanist will meditate on sunyata to help with a cure, while a Vajrayana follower may use a mantra.


If one has money, one should always keep some effective and simple medicines for the treatment of those who need them, regardless of whether or not they are Buddhists. However, be careful of medicines for internal illnesses, for unless one is a doctor, patients may become worse instead of better as a result of one's treatment. It is good to have some medical knowledge so that the treatment may be given freely.


20. Seeing Good Done


When you meet someone doing any virtuous action—giving alms, worshipping at a shrine, asking for an explanation of Buddha dharma—always approve and, indeed, praise them. (In Theravada countries, the thrice repeated "sadhu," meaning "it is good," is usually used to express approval of meritorious actions.) If we are skilled in seeing good even in small and ordinary affairs not connected with religion, then we may easily gain many merits.


21. Using Words


In ordinary life, it is usual to have contact with many other people. With others, we should always use good words and never those that are deceitful or might lead to quarrels.


22. Doing Good


If one gets a chance to do some good, then use that opportunity to the greatest extent. Whereas Buddhists are inclined to weigh up the ensuing merits from good deeds, the followers of Confucius keep a check on the good deeds themselves and say at the end of the day: "I have done these good things today." Both are good ways.


23. Stopping Killing


If one meets a person about to kill an animal, one must try with all one's power to stop him from doing so and thus save that creature's life, also prolonging one's own life.


24. Beauties of Nature


Always maintain a mind grateful for the beauties or blessings of nature. On a cold day, when a ray of sunshine cheers, give thanks for this. When the day is hot, and a cooling breeze comes, give thanks. Sometimes one may feel drawn to meditation on such occasions; at this time recognize that one's inclination is bestowed by the Buddhas and sincerely thank them.


25. Quarrels


When one comes upon a quarrel or fight, whether with words or blows, one should try one's best to settle it peacefully.


26. Meeting the Opposite Sex


When meeting a beautiful woman or handsome man, if you practice the Hinayana disciplines, keep the impurity meditations well in mind.


The Mahayanist may think, "If the person is younger than oneself, then he or she is one's own son or daughter. When of equal age, he or she is thought of as one's own brother or sister, while those older than oneself are considered to be either father or mother and should, therefore, be respected."


A Vajrayanist in the presence of a beautiful girl recollects that she is a dakini.


27. Passing a Slaughterhouse


Passing a slaughterhouse, do not merely be disgusted, but develop the mind of great compassion for all the dead, dying and terrified animals in that place.


28. Passing a Graveyard


If one passes a graveyard or cremation ground, several things may be done. First, develop the thought of impermanence, which one must learn to accept—and from which one has to learn not to flinch. Then, for one's own protection, a mantra may be used. Finally, for the benefit of beings departed but still lingering in ghost form, practice phowa for them.


When I first came to Calcutta, and was waiting to obtain a pass, I stayed near the Chinese cemetery and saw many neglected graves there. Because there was no Chinese monk living in the city, many had died without having a religious ritual performed for them. So for three weeks I lived among the graves and, spending my own money, performed the pujas and practiced chod (offering all of oneself to the hungry ghosts, etc. See "Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines.")


29. Seeing Birds


Seeing birds fly through the air is a reminder for us and we should ask ourselves: "How can we make our sunyata meditations as perfect as those of Milarepa, who could fly in the sky?"


30. Seeing Affection in Animals


When we see any animals showing affection towards each other, then we may ask ourselves, "How can we make the world full of love?" Realize that the answer to this question lies in making Buddhism spread everywhere in the world (which means, of course, first making it spread within ourselves; that is, realizing the truth of it ourselves).


31. Seeing Bees


Seeing bees flying, we are reminded: "How can we gain the essence of Buddhism, which is as sweet as honey?"


32. Seeing Pigs


Upon seeing a fat pig, think compassionately of them, raised only for their flesh. Then reflect again that their dead bodies have at least some food-value, but what of our own? Are they not useless?


In my cave in the wilds of China, near its entrance there was a small temple where, since there was no monk, an old widow stayed and fed some pigs. These were kept in a sty just next to where the image of the Buddha was placed. Everyone who passed by that way was asked by the old woman, "Are my pigs fatter now?"


Consequently, I wrote a poem:


The pigs stay for a few days only

While the old woman asks: "How are they? Fat?"

Should we not reflect on what our mind is fixed upon?

Should our progress to Enlightenment be delayed?


People only ask about flesh and are not concerned with their realization of nirvana.


33. Going to Bed


Going to bed and taking off one's shoes, question oneself: "Shall I put them on again tomorrow?" Mentally resolve that one's sleep may be short and undisturbed by bad dreams and resolve, too, upon getting up early on the next day.


34. Going to Sleep


When going to sleep, practice the sleeping meditations; thinking that the entire universe is transformed into the hermitage, the hermitage into light, light into the body, the body into the bija-mantra, and lastly, this into the Dharmakaya.


35. Dreaming


If one practices the Pure Land meditations, take advantage of dreams and try to go there. When one wakes up a little, concentrate the mind and endeavor to discover the Dharmakaya light again. Pray for this and the Pure Land should also then appear.


Males should be careful of periods in the night when one is in a half-awake state and one's organ becomes erect, lustful thoughts thus invading the mind, leading quickly to seminal discharge. As soon as one becomes aware of either of these events, visualize the organ as a vajra, the head of which turns inside itself and rises up within the body. In this process, the semen about to be discharged meets the "fire" and is melted or dispensed. In this way one retains the semen and stops the lustful thoughts.


36. Sleeping


If one is middle-aged or old it is usually neither advisable nor necessary to sleep for a long time. If the yogi cannot sleep properly and only turns over and over, he should alert himself: "I cannot sleep, so why do I not get up and practice meditation?" At midnight and in the early morning, all is very quiet and it is a fine time to practice.


Young people need enough sleep or they will only experience a sleepy mind during the day, but they should not on this account prolong their sleeping hours unduly.


C. Realization


1. Mindfulness


With so many miscellaneous events in life, it is easy to forget their identity with the principles of daily life meditation. It is essential, therefore, to maintain mindfulness to integrate one's endeavors with whatever main meditations one practices.


2. Progress


It shows very good progress when the daily life meditations are always mindfully integrated with whatever one is doing.


3. Habit


The yogi must guard against the disease of over-familiarity. In this mental attitude, the noble aspirations and the mantras just flow on without any attention being paid to them, without their having any real relationship with one's actions. Without mindfulness, the mind flies off to other things, while the mantra, etc., may go on being repeated like a cracked record on a record player. For real daily life practice, mindfulness is essential while maintaining a high degree of samatha, or it will not be effective. I have written an essay on this illness and have suggested there many ways to cure it.


Why should one take all these things so lightly? All our sections of daily life should be performed with this yoga, both carefully and seriously. If one contracts only a minor case of this disease of over-familiarity, there is danger of grave consequences and the yogi may easily commit great mistakes.


D. Daily Life in Chan


All the daily life incidents recorded in Chan sayings are in the position of consequence; unless it is "mouth Chan," it is always in this position. Here I give some examples:


Zhao Zhou was sweeping when another monk came to him. The latter said, "Has your mind still some defilement?"

Zhao Zhou replied, "Yes, why not?"

The other said, "Why has it?"

"Then," said Zhao Zhou, "by just saying this the dust of defilement increases by one speck."


Can anyone in the West understand this? Can they sweep in this way? Following this, we have a story on taking tea:


Once the monk Song Shan invited Upasaka Pang Yun to drink tea with him. Pang Yun lifted his tea up by the saucer, saying, "Bhante, everyone may share it, why can nobody speak the truth?" Song Shan said, "Simply because everyone may share it, so no body can speak it." The upasaka questioned, "Why can you speak like this?"

Song Shan said, "It cannot be without speaking," and not waiting for the other man, drank his tea by himself.

Pang said, "You drink by yourself, why do you not bless us?"

Song Shan: "No need again."

Another monk, Dan Xia, heard of this story and exclaimed, "A person other than Song Shan might have been bothered by the upasaka."

When the upasaka heard this, he is reported to have said: "Why did he not recognize it before I lifted up the cup?"


Everyone in the West who takes tea can act in this way, but do they? They may be able to speak like this, but is it based on experience or is it just playing with words? Now we present a story on walking.


Three monks, Nan Quan, Ma Gu, and Gui Zong met and wished to go together to worship the National Teacher, Nan Yang. They set out on their journey, walking, of course. In the dust of the road in front of them, Nan Quan drew a circle and said, "If you can speak out about this, then we can go on together." Then the monk Gui Zong sat down in the circle while Ma Gu just worshipped him in the manner of a woman, and as though Bodhidharma himself were there. Nan Quan said, "If thus, we need not go."

Gui Zong then exclaimed, "What a work of the mind like this!"

Nan Quan said, "We go back." And so they did not go.


You all go here and there—do you go in this way?


Another story: Pang Yun once fell down on the ground, and seeing this, his daughter came and purposely fell down beside him. Said Pang, "Why have you also fallen?"

His daughter said, "I have just come to save you." Pang just stood up and smiled.


Mr. Chen added, "But if I were Pang Yun, I would say, 'You are falling into the ordinary condition.'"


Generally we have emphasized that daily life yoga is subsidiary and is always considered after the main practice, in order to integrate the miscellaneous activities of life into the main meditation. In the second section of "Daily Life Yoga," we have seen some examples in all the three positions, but we must always keep in mind that true Chan is in the highest position, that of consequence, as are the examples given here. When one actually obtains realization of Chan, this will be found a great Dharma-benefit, but for the practice of Chan in daily life at least the first three of the four stages into which I have divided Chan must have been reached.


I have read some Soto Zen patriarch's instructions, and know from what he says that he himself could not practice in daily life. How can such instructions lead the West? This sort of doctrine is not a real one. First, one should always realize oneself, then everything may be accomplished.


Of our stages in Chan (entering into, leaving, utilizing and finished), it is in this third stage when daily life Chan is practiced. Without the first two, how can this daily life Chan practice be done? One should not deceive oneself or others in this matter.


E. Conclusion


There is no time when there is no opportunity to practice and no place where one is without a guru. In fact, there is no space where the grace of the Buddha is not present. The universe is just like a great classroom; all phenomena are our books, and all human beings are our gurus. All sounds are incantation, all spaces are shrines, and all times are for us to do good. If we govern our lives very nicely, then there are many chances to practice daily life yoga.


It is said by Confucius, "Where three people are working, from one of them I can learn something." (According to ancient interpretation this last word "working" should be "walking," but I think our sense is better.)


I am sure, however, that instead of learning from only one in three it is possible to learn from everyone. From equals one gets help; those superior are one's gurus; while people worse than ourselves show us their mistakes, thus warning us which way we should not go.


We should always take good examples from the conduct and meditations of the famous ancients, but not compare ourselves with persons of the present age, as they are full of pride. Therefore, frequently read the biographies of the real sages of Buddhism and let their daily life practice inspire you.


Do not think, "Many persons do evil much of the time, so why should I not do likewise? Why not accept the common standard, as rogues often appear to go unpunished and may even thrive (for the time being)." Falling into this error, one really becomes, in the Buddhist sense, a low-caste person.


Always keep the mind in samadhi where it cannot be moved by the eight worldly winds—gain, loss, pride, ridicule, sorrow, joy, praise, and blame.


Always keep bodhicitta, particularly the wisdom-heart of will and of conduct. Based upon this principle, one may do every good deed, as John Wesley (1703-91) said:


Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.


"Thus your daily life will not pass in vain," the yogi added.


Again, I must stress: daily life yoga is subsidiary and is only practiced to the extent that the aim of one's main meditation is furthered. If one has not accomplished the main practice, what will daily life yoga mean?



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