Talks about Meditation by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Put everything down.
Let no thought arise.
A talk by Elder Master De Ching Hsu Yun of Jen Ru Monastery, on Yun Ju mountain, in the province of Jiang-Xi, the Forty-fourth Patriarch in India, the Seventeenth Patriarch in China, and the Eight Patriarch in the Wei Yang Lineage.
The goal of investigating Chan is to understand the mind and see the true nature. That is, to remove all the defilements in our minds and to actually see the image of our self-nature. Defilements refer to false thoughts and attachments, while the self-nature refers to our inherent wisdom and virtue, which is identical to that of all Buddhas. The Thus Come Ones’ wisdom and virtue is embodied within all Buddhas and sentient beings and is not dual or different. Anyone who can be apart from false thoughts and attachments can certify to the Thus Come Ones’ wisdom and virtue and become a Buddha. Otherwise, we remain ordinary sentient beings.
Immeasurable eons ago we became caught in the cycle of birth and death. By now, we have been defiled for so long that we cannot just suddenly get rid of our false thoughts and see our original nature. That is why we have to investigate Chan. Therefore, the first step in investigating Chan is to eliminate false thoughts. How can false thoughts be eliminated? Sakyamuni Buddha talked a lot about this. The easiest method is none other than ceasing. The saying goes: ceasing is Bodhi.
The Chan School was transmitted to China by Great Master Bodhidharma, who became the first patriarch. That transmission continued, being received eventually by the Sixth Patriarch. Thereafter, the teaching of Chan spread far and wide. Through the ages, its impact has been tremendous. However, the teaching given by Venerable Bodhidharma and the Sixth Patriarch is considered the most important. It is, in essence, making everything still and then not letting a single thought arise. Making everything still means putting everything down.
Those two phrases of putting everything down, and not letting a thought arise are the essential requisites for investigating Chan. If we fail to meet these two requirements, then we will not be able to master the rudiments of Chan, how much the less succeed in investigating Chan. How can any of us say we are investigating Chan when we are still covered over and bound by the myriad conditions, and our thoughts come into being and cease to be without interruption? Put everything down. Let no thought arise. Those are the requisites for investigating Chan. Since we know this, how can we achieve them?
First, we need to put each and every thought to rest until no more arise. Doing that, we will certify to Bodhi instantly without any trouble. Second, we need to be reasonable in dealing with all matters and to fully understand that the self-nature is originally pure and clear. We need to realize that affliction, Bodhi, birth, death, and nirvana are all merely names and, as such, have nothing to do with our selfnature. All material objects are like dreams and illusions, bubbles and shadows.
In the scope of our self-nature, our bodies and our environment, both of which are composed of the four elements, are just like bubbles that randomly form and vanish in the sea, without affecting the original substance. We should not get caught up in the coming into being, dwelling, changes, and ceasing to be of the illusory things in this world. Nor should we indulge in fondness and dislike, grasping and rejecting. By totally disregarding this body, just as if we were a dead person, we will naturally reduce the effect of being tainted by our sense faculties and our mind consciousness.
In that way, we will be able to eliminate greed, hatred, ignorance, and emotional love. We will no longer be influenced by pain and pleasure this body experiences, including hunger and cold, satiation and warmth, honor and humiliation, life and death, misfortune and blessings, good or ill luck, slander and praise, gain and loss, safety and danger.
At that point, we will have achieved putting down. If, in putting things down, we can do so totally and permanently, then we will have achieved putting everything down. When we have put everything down, false thoughts will naturally vanish, discriminations will no longer be made, and we will be far apart from attachments. At the point when not a single thought arises, the light of our self-nature will manifest completely, and we will then naturally have fulfilled the requirements for investigating Chan. It is only by diligently applying our skill in investigation that we have the chance of understanding our mind and seeing our true nature.
Recently, many Chan practitioners have come to ask questions. There is actually no Dharma to speak because what can be expressed in words or commented upon in language will not be the true meaning. Always remember that our mind was originally the Buddha. All along, it has continued to be inherent in each of us. Self-declarations about cultivation and certification amount to the words of demons.
When Venerable Bodhidharma came to China, he pointed directly at people’s minds as the way to see their nature and become Buddhas. In this way, he clearly indicated that all sentient beings on earth have the Buddha nature. We need to recognize that this pure and clear self-nature accords with conditions without being defiled. We need to realize that in every moment, in everything we do, our true mind is no different from that of the Buddhas. If we certify to that, then we will have become a Buddha right here and now. Once we certify to that, then there will be no need for any further mental or physical exertion. We will not need to talk, to think, or to do anything at all. In that sense, becoming a Buddha is actually the easiest and most comfortable thing to do.
Sentient beings need only wish not to revolve continually in the cycle of the four types of rebirth in the six realms of existence, where they are always sinking in the sea of suffering. If sentient beings wish to become Buddhas and to attain the eternity, joy, true self, and purity of nirvana, then they should truly and sincerely believe in the Buddha’s teachings, put everything down, and stop having thoughts of good or evil. By doing that, each of us can become Buddhas. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as well as all patriarchs through the ages, have vowed to save all sentient beings. This is not without basis or evidence. They did not make great vows for nothing, nor were they engaging in false speech.
Biography of Master Hsuan Hua
The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua was also known as An Tse and To Lun. The name Hsuan Hua was bestowed upon him after he received the transmission of the Wei Yang Lineage of the Chan School from Venerable Elder Hsu Yun. He left the home life at the age of nineteen. After the death of his mother, he lived in a tiny thatched hut by her grave for three years, as an act of filial respect. During that time, he practiced meditation and studied the Buddha’s teachings. Among his many practices were eating only once at midday and never lying down to sleep.
In 1948, the Master arrived in Hong Kong, where he founded the Buddhist Lecture Hall and other monasteries. In 1962, he brought the Proper Dharma to America and the West, where he lectured extensively on the major works of the Mahayana Buddhist canon and established the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, as well as the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the International Translation Institute, various other monastic facilities, Dharma Realm Buddhist University, Developing Virtue Secondary School, Instilling Goodness Elementary School, the vocational Sangha and Laity Training Programs, and other education centers. The Master passed into stillness on June 7, 1995, in Los Angeles, California, USA, causing many people throughout the world to mourn the sudden setting of the sun of wisdom. Although his life has passed on, his lofty example will always be remembered. Throughout his life he worked selflessly and vigorously to benefit the people of the world and all living beings. His wisdom and compassion inspired many to correct their faults and lead wholesome lives.
Here we include the Records of the Mendicant of Chang Bai written by the Venerable Master. This verse serves as a model for all of us to emulate.
The monk from Long White Mountain,
simple and honest by nature,
Was always quick to help people
and benefit others.
Forgetting himself for the Dharma,
he made lifelong sacrifices.
Dispensing cures for people’s ills,
he spared not his marrow and blood.
His vow was to join in substance
all the millions of different beings.
His practices swelled to fill space itself,
as he gathered in all with potentials.
Unhindered by mundane distinctions
of past, future, and present,
His scope reached beyond the confines
of north, south, east, or west.
--Composed by Master Hua
Verse in Expression of Faith from
Dhyana Master Hsu Yun
Proclaiming [Hsuan] Wei’s wonderful meaning,
Causes the sect’s teaching to be echoed far and wide.
The transformations [Hua] inherited from Ling Peak
Exalt the Dharma Path.
Taking Across (Du) the forty-sixth,
The mind seal is transmitted.
The wheel [Lun] revolves unceasingly,
Rescuing the suffering hordes.
“Year of the Buddha” 2983, the year Bingshen
Written by De Qing Hsu Yun,
the eighth generation of the Wei Yang,
at the Dharma Lecture Hall of Zhenru Chan Monastery
1. Why Investigate Chan?
When thoughts cease, confusion ends. We humans are born confused and die confused. We are confused while asleep and confused while awake. What value is there in that kind of life? So does that mean that we do not want to be human beings anymore? No, but we have to understand where we came from when we were born and where we will go after death. Someone may say, “I know how to find out about death. I can overdose on drugs or hang myself or jump into a river. Would I not know then?”
Suicide will not free you from birth and death. It will only increase your karmic burden. We sit in meditation in order to find a way to ensure that, when it is time for us to die, we will not suffer physical sickness, we will not crave wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep, and our minds will not be upside down. Death should be just as if we had entered into Chan samadhi. We want to pass away with a smile, be without discomfort, and have Amitabha Buddha welcome us with a golden dais. We want to be able to predict our own passing and to know of its coming in advance. We want to know the year, month, day and even the precise time when we will pass away once all our tasks have been completed.
Cultivation is just for that purpose! If we do not know about that crucial moment, then we will remain confused throughout our entire life. Nor will that confusion end with death. In death after death we will still be confused. In life after life we will be unclear. How pitiful to be perpetually confused.
The reason we practice sitting in meditation and want to learn Buddhism is because we do not want to be confused. Many people spend their time doing scientific research aimed at trying to determine the makeup and workings of the physical body so that they can reproduce it. Those who seek scientific solutions outside themselves are forsaking the roots and going after the branch tips. When we understand our original self, we will then gain great wisdom. Learning Buddhism will allow that great wisdom to unfold.
Freedom over birth and death is freedom to come and go
Those who investigate Chan can become masters over their own birth and death. They can come and go freely without any restriction. As it is said,
My destiny is determined by me, not by heaven.
Even Old Man Yama will no longer have control over us! Why not? We will have transcended the Three Realms. What does freedom to come and go involve? It refers to freedom to be born and to die. If we want to live, we can live. If we want to die, we can die. The choice will be ours, as we wish. Please take note, however, that this kind of death does not mean committing suicide. This freedom allows us to relate to our physical body as we would our house. If we want to go out and travel, we will be free to go wherever we want. If we wish, we can have a hundred million transformation bodies to teach sentient beings throughout empty space and the Dharma Realm. If we do not wish to travel, we can stay in the house and no one will disturb us.
We should know that everything in empty space and in the Dharma Realm is included within the Dharma-body. Nothing can go outside the Dharma-body. All of you have gone to a lot of trouble to attend this Chan session, and to work non-stop day and night. You are doing this because you hope to gain freedom and security over birth and death. You want to control your own life and to be your own master. Being able to do that is truly the state of freedom over birth and death. In investigating Chan, you need to reach the state of not knowing that there is sky above, earth below, and people in between. You need to become one with empty space. Then there is some hope for enlightenment. Right now, walking and sitting, sitting and walking provide the key that will open our wisdom.
The great functioning of the entire substance is clearly understood
If we do not investigate Chan and do not practice sitting in meditation, we will continue not to know where we came from at birth and where we will go after death. Not knowing those things, we will again be born and die in confusion. To keep living lives in that manner is indeed pitiful!
Those who work hard at Chan practice can awaken and recognize who they were before their parents gave birth to them. They will suddenly see everything very clearly. They will understand in fine detail the ins and outs of all matters. They will fathom the great functioning of the true mind. Those who realize such a state are destined to attain the fruition of Buddhahood. In the future they will attain unsurpassedt and equal enlightenment.
By investigating Chan and sitting in meditation, we can gain enlightenment
How do we get enlightened? Enlightenment is like unlocking a door that has been restricting our entry and exit. We need a key to unlock that door. Without a key, we will remain locked up in this room forever. So, where is the key? It is right there with you. It is very easy to find. How will you find it? You can do so by investigating Chan and sitting in meditation, or by chanting the Buddhas’ names and holding mantras. Practicing in those ways is equivalent to searching for the key. When will you find it? That depends on your stage of cultivation. If you practice with vigor and fortitude, you will find it very quickly. But if you are lazy and lethargic, you will never find it, not just in this life, but even in future lives you will not find it. This is a very simple principle.
We want to learn how not to be attached to self and others
All things come to life,
each time spring returns.
Shatter empty space, be free and at ease.
Break attachments, let self and others go.
Expand to fill the Dharma Realm,
however vast that is.
When we investigate Chan, we have the chance to be enlightened. The brightness of our self-nature will shine forth just as when spring returns to the great earth and everything comes to life again. Empty space is originally without shape. When even this shapeless void has been shattered, one becomes free. From then onwards, one no longer attaches to the mark of others or the mark of self. The Dharma Realm may be large but we can still encompass it. Having done that, will we not be great heroes?
Meditation and samadhi are vital to our Dharma-body
Sitting in meditation and cultivating samadhi is like feeding our Dharma-body. The physical body needs to be fed and clothed, needs to sleep, and is always busy working to achieve these needs. One cannot go without food, clothes, and sleep for even one day. Everyone is the same in this respect. We cannot do without any one of these things. But our Dharma-body also needs food, clothes, and sleep. Sitting in meditation provides our Dharma-body with natural food. By absorbing the true nutrients from empty space, our Dharma-body will thrive. Entering samadhi gives our Dharma-body essential rest. If we never enter samadhi, our Dharma-body gets no rest. And finally, our Dharma-body must be clothed in tolerance. Meditation and samadhi are vital to our Dharma-body. When we meditate long enough our Dharma-body will taste the flavor of Dharma and can absorb the true goodness of empty space.
The physical body needs these three items, and so does the Dharma-body. When we cultivate, we should clothe our Dharma-body in our own tolerance. We should enter the Thus Come One’s abode by entering samadhi. And ultimately we should ascend to the Thus Come One’s seat. This is how we should nurture the Dharma-body every day.
Sitting long brings Chan, which cleanses and purifies the mind
The aim of sitting in meditation is to open our wisdom. Enlightenment is the opening of our wisdom. With wisdom, we will no longer be confused, the way we have been in the past. If we sit without moving and our mind does not wander, we can enter samadhi. When we have samadhi, our wisdom will naturally open up and all our problems will be solved effortlessly. The Buddha is not very different from an ordinary person.
The difference is that he has great wisdom. Great wisdom accesses spiritual penetrations whereupon the mind and spirit have no obstruction. Wisdom and spiritual penetrations are dual and yet not dual, but they are not the supernatural power of ghosts. Ghostly penetrations arise from using the perceptive minds’ deduction. Ghosts may think that they are intelligent, but they are not. Real wisdom does not require thinking. When we gain real wisdom, our knowledge of things comes naturally, and we can exercise it freely. When we have wisdom, we fully understand all things. Without wisdom, all things become upside-down. Things may be upside-down, yet one who lacks wisdom is still unaware of that. If one knows one’s mistakes, one may still be saved. However, if one was unaware of one’s mistakes, what results will bring real suffering!
If we want to leave suffering and gain happiness, we must have wisdom. With wisdom, we need not suffer anymore. If we understand this principle, we can avoid any more afflictions. Actually, this reasoning is very simple. However, Chan sitting requires time. As it is said,
Practice sitting for a long time and
Chan will appear.
Live in one place a long time and
affinities will develop.
Investigating Chan actually cleanses and purifies our minds. Stilling thoughts is a process of calming down our thoughts and getting rid of all the defilements. This is exactly what Venerable Master Shen Xiu meant when he said,
Time and again brush it clean,
and let no dust alight.
If we understand this principle, we should make determined effort in our Chan practice. Everyone must strive hard and be patient. Though our legs may get sore and our back may ache, we must endure that pain. Remember,
If the plum tree did not endure cold
that chills to the bone,
How could the fragrance
of its blossoms be so sweet?
2. What is Chan?
Concentrating on a focal point is the key to success in everything
The method of sitting in meditation is essential to learn in cultivation. What does the word Chan mean? Chan is a Chinese abbreviation for the Sanskrit word, Dhyana. Dhyana means thought cultivation that leads to stilling our thoughts. Chan meditation is the method used to reach Dhyana, a stilling of our thoughts. Normally, when we sit, our minds wanders. Where do our minds go? They indulge in false thinking, which sends us anywhere our thoughts take us. Without having to pay for traveling, we can take a rocket trip. The false thoughts fly everywhere without restraint. Why is it people do not have wisdom? It is because the mind wanders about. Why do we age day-by-day? It is because the mind rushes to all sorts of places. Suppose someone drives a new car recklessly and aimlessly. Doing that will definitely consume and waste a lot of fuel.
Eventually, the car and its parts will be damaged and mechanical difficulties will result. This analogy applies to the human body as well. If we do not know how to take good care of it, if we endulge it without restraint, it will definitely consume a lot of ‘fuel’. What ‘fuel’ would that be? That fuel is our precious mental energy. No matter how many times we refuel, we keep using it up. Take for example people who consume tonics everyday, thinking that they are replenishing their bodies with nutrients
If people do not treasure their mental energy and are selfindulgent, then no matter how much tonic they consume, they will never replenish the wasted energy. As a proverb says, “Concentrating on a focal point is the key to success in everything.”
We have to gather our thoughts and concentrate on a focal point. Then we will not deplete our mental energy. In other words, if we know how to drive well, we will not drive around recklessly and meet with an accident. Our car will also last longer. Similarly, if we know how to take care of ourselves, then it is possible to neither age nor die.
Twirling a flower, the Buddha revealed the mind-to-mind seal
Shakyamuni Buddha initiated Chan investigation when he held aloft a flower in the Vulture Peak Assembly to indicate the transmission of the subtle and wonderful mind seal Dharma door. At that time, Patriarch Mahakasyapa understood the intention of the Buddha, and smiled broadly. From then on, the mind seal Dharma door of the Buddhas and Patriarchs was transmitted. Actually, Patriarch Mahakasyapa was already over a hundred years old and because he vigorously practiced asceticism, he normally would not have smiled. On this occasion, his smile was an indication that he had just received the Buddha’s mind-to-mind seal.
Only quiet contemplation can initiate Chan
Chan means stilling thoughts. We will only realize Chan if we still our thoughts. Samadhi means not moving. If we move, we have no samadhi.
By taking Dharma bliss as food, Chan samadhi will manifest. When we cultivate the Way, we practice sitting in meditation. To develop Chan, we need to sit down. As we sit in meditation, our skill will manifest. It should not be the case that as soon as you sit in meditation knowing anything at all. Entering samadhi requires one to sit in an upright posture. One sits with a straight back and holds the head straight without nodding or inclining the neck. What is meant by samadhi power? Samadhi has a certain power that supports and maintains your body in an upright posture so that you do not lean forward or tilt backward. Sitting upright effortlessly, you can enter Chan samadhi. In the midst of samadhi, there is an unimaginable joy that is inexplicable and indescribable. Because it surpasses what your mind can imagine, it is described like this:
The path of words and speech is cut off.
The place of the mind’s activity is gone.
In Chan samadhi, you will experience a bliss that is continuous and unceasing. Experiencing the bliss of Chan samadhi inspires in us courage and vigor that surpasses the ordinary. That kind of courage and vigor is extremely strong and powerful. No other forces can overcome that type of power.
Thought cultivation eliminates false thinking
Chan sitting is also known as thought cultivation. From this definition, we know that it is impossible not to have false thinking during Chan sitting. Normally, our false thinking comes and goes just like waves on water. Waves come up because of wind. When we meditate, why do false thoughts arise? It is because our self-nature still contains falsehood. This falsehood is like the wind, and false thoughts are like waves stirred by the wind.
As we practice meditation, we need to silence our thoughts. That means we must stop the false winds. Thought cultivation aims at reducing false thoughts and stopping the waves that constantly arise in our minds. Stilling means quieting the thoughts so they cease their movement. When we cease thinking and deliberating, we can give rise to samadhi power. Over time, as samadhi power develops, wisdom will manifest. With wisdom, our minds can illuminate the true nature of all dharmas.
When not a single thought arises,
the entire substance manifests.
When the mind is completely stilled so that not a single of shred of false thinking remains, we will be able to enter samadhi and our original wisdom will thus manifest. We will then truly understand the basic reason why we are human beings, and will no longer be moved by external things. When the myriad external conditions do not move our minds, we can then be considered to be:
In unmoving suchness where all is absolutely clear and constantly understood.
At that time, none of the eight winds: praise and ridicule, sorrow and joy, gain and loss, defamation and eulogy, will be able to move our minds.
People may praise us or ridicule us as they wish.
In favorable or adverse conditions,
We will advance vigorously.
No suffering or joy will move our minds.
Gain refers to things that benefit one, loss refers to things that harm one; defamation means to slander; eulogy is to commend or glorify one’s name.
Unmoved by the eight winds,
I sit erect on a purple-golden lotus.
Not being blown about by the eight winds is the result of thought cultivation, of silencing the mind. By not being moved by external factors, we can then understand how to practice sitting meditation.
Silencing the mind reveals our wisdom
Investigating Chan requires non-movement of the mind and thoughts and this means silence. The Chan method works like the thrust of a knife, cutting right through. Because Chan investigation is apart from the mind-consciousness, it is known as putting an end to the mind. Ending the mind means ending all mental activities of the mind-consciousness. Only when all the activities of the false mind are stopped will thoughts be silenced. When that happens, we gain the power of knowing and seeing that comes with suddenly enlightening to the nonarising of all things. We then have patience with the nonarising of people and dharmas. And we certify to four stages of practice, which are heat, summit, patience, and first in the world.
1. Heat. This warm energy comes as we sit in meditation.
2. Summit. That energy rises to the crown of our head as we continue to practice.
3. Patience. It becomes very difficult to be patient, but we must still be patient.
4. First in the World. We become a world-transcending great hero.
If we want to attain these four stages, we must first learn to silence the mind. Our mind-consciousness must remain unmoving.
Our thoughts are like waves that cannot be calmed. Sitting in meditation aims at stopping the mind-consciousness from moving. Eventually, it stops naturally. Once stopped, the mind is silent. When it is completely silent, wisdom comes forth. When wisdom arises, we become self-illuminating.
When silence reaches an ultimate point,
the light penetrates everywhere.
That is the power of knowing and seeing that comes with sudden enlightenment to the non-arising of all things.
The flavor of lightness and ease is infinitely wonderful
What is the flavor of Chan? It is the joy of realizing Chan samadhi, which brings a feeling of lightness and tranquility. This infinitely wonderful experience defies conceptualization and verbal description. Those who have personally experienced this state tacitly accept it. Just as when a person drinks water, he himself will know whether it is hot or cold, so too lightness and ease is something we ourselves will know when it happens to us. If all of you want to know whether the flavor of Chan is sweet or bitter, you will have to work very hard at investigating Chan. When you have reached a certain state, you will naturally know the flavor.
Therefore, you have to investigate, and when you have investigated until the truth emerges, then you will experience the flavor of Chan. Chan is not to be spoken of but is to be investigated. This is why the Chan sect does not teach using words or literature. Its truth is transmitted outside the Teaching. It is a method that points directly to the human mind so that one can see one’s own nature and attain Buddhahood. When a person who investigates Chan has reached a high level of attainment, he will never get angry. He will not fight or contend with others, because he has attained the Samadhi of Non-Contention. He will not pursue fame nor gain, because he looks upon wealth as being dewdrops on flowers. He looks upon official status as being frost on a rooftop. Both vanish without a trace in no time.
3. Ten Benefits of Chan
Ten benefits of Chan are gained from proper practice
1. Adhering to practices that bring peaceful dwelling. When we sit in meditation and investigate Chan everyday, we acquire a certain deportment. This deportment takes practice. When we investigate Chan year after year, month after month, day after day, hour after hour, and minute by minute, there are proper ways to practice.
Running meditation is one example. When it is time to do running meditation in the Chan hall, someone shouts “Run!” Everyone runs. We may run until we perspire and almost pass out. We may run until we are not aware of the heavens above, the earth below, and people in between. During running meditation we can become unaware of our self, and fundamentally, there is no longer a self. When our running meditation reaches the point that we have no notion of self and others, we will be contemplating at ease. In the absence of self, we will have no false thinking. In the absence of people, we will have no false thoughts of others. At that moment, we will be contemplating at ease.
Neither in emptiness nor in form
Does one see the Thus Come One.
The Buddha does not fall into the categories of emptiness or existence, which means he is neither empty nor does he have substance. Therefore, if we realize that the Dharma-body of the Thus Come One is neither empty nor has substance, then we have seen the Dharma-body of the Thus Come One. We arrive there by adhering to practices that bring peaceful dwelling.
2. Using kindness in what we do. This does not necessarily mean being nice to others. When it is necessary to use kindness, we should use kindness and compassion to teach and cross over the other person. We use the method of gathering in. If we encounter a sentient being who needs to be exhorted or admonished so that he can gain an awakening, we should be motivated by kindness and compassion as we exhort or admonish him. Or, in the Chan Hall, the incense board is often used to tap people into an awakening. In the Chan Hall, there are often cases of people being hit. However, this kind of hitting is different from ordinary hitting for the intention here is to enable that person to be awakened. This is for his own good because we hope that he will observe the rules and get rid of his false thoughts. That is how to use kindness in what we do.
3. The absence of the heat of regret. The heat of regret is an affliction. In regretting, the mind indulges in affliction and that generates heat. Therefore, this third benefit means to be without afflictions.
4. Safeguarding the sense faculties. This means watching over the six sense faculties. Why do we need to safeguard the six faculties? If we do not, they will run away. The eyes will be drawn to forms; the ears will be enticed by sounds; the nose will react to smells; the tongue will get involved in tastes; the body will be influenced by touch; and the mind will endulge in mental constructs. That is why we have to safeguard the six faculties until they emit light and cause the earth to quake. Why do they emit light? Light is emitted when we have no more false thoughts and our original wisdom manifests. When the light of wisdom shines throughout the trichiliocosm, the six sense faculties emit light and the earth quakes.
5. Knowing the joy of non-eating. A person who investigates Chan will obtain the joy of Chan as food and be filled with Dharma joy. When that happens, then even though we do not eat substantial foods, we will be joyful. Despite not consuming any food, we are happy so long as we can
investigate Chan. Has this happened to any of you?
6. Being apart from emotional love and desire. When our minds do not entertain thoughts of emotional love and desire, then our minds are clear and pure. Emotional love and desire are defilements and defilements result in birth and death. Why do ordinary human beings like us experience birth and death? It is because we have not cut off emotional love and desire. Why do ordinary people keep revolving continuously in the six paths of rebirth without ever ending birth and death? It is because they entertain thoughts of emotional love and desire and can never stop doing so. If you cannot cut off love and desire, you cannot end birth and death. As long as we have not ended birth and death, we will revolve continuously in the six paths. If people who investigate Chan can be apart from thoughts of emotional love and desire, then the doors of hell will remain closed and they will not go there.
7. Cultivating will not be done in vain. What does that mean? It means the only thing to fear is that we will fail to cultivate. If we do cultivate, we will not pass the time in vain. When we sit in meditation for an hour, our wisdom-life will lengthen by an hour. When we meditate for two hours, our wisdom-life will extend by two hours. If we investigate Chan every moment, every hour, every day, every month and every year, our inherent wisdom will certainly become evident. Hence, Chan cultivation will never be done in vain. For as long as we cultivate, we will not pass the time in vain.
8. Remaining free of demonic karma. Cultivators can keep clear of the karmic power of demons. When we are free from the karmic obstructions of demons, no demon can disturb or hinder us in any way.
9. Dwelling peacefully in the Buddha’s realm. If we can investigate constantly, we will gain this ninth benefit of dwelling peacefully in the Buddha’s realm.
10. Gaining complete liberation. This is the benefit that everyone hopes for. Complete liberation means to be without obstructions. Having no obstructions, we realize the clear and pure Dharma-body.
Those are the ten benefits of investigating Chan.