Recently, in speaking before a luncheon audience, I mentioned that I try to meditate for about 10 minutes every morning and 10 minutes before bedtime.
"How do you meditate?'' a woman asked.
I felt so ill equipped to answer, because I'm new to it, too, as many Westerners are.
The following pages were originally intended as new sections to be added to the second edition of my introductory book on the Dhamma, What is Buddhism?. However, as many people are greatly interested in the practice of meditation, and as many are also separated from the sources of a living tradition, it is hoped that the following may be of value even apart from the sections of the book which they supplement.
There are lots of people who are ashamed to talk about their own defilements but who feel no shame at talking about the defilements of others. Those who are willing to report their own diseases -- their own defilements -- in a straightforward manner are few and far between. As a result, the disease of defilement is hushed up and kept secret, so that we don't realize how serious and widespread it is. We all suffer from it, and yet no one is open about it. No one is really interested in diagnosing his or her own defilements....
When you hear something about Buddhism in the daily news you usually think of it having a background of huge idols and yellow-robed monks, with a thick atmosphere of incense fumes. You never feel that there is anything in it for you, except, maybe, an exotic spectacle.
I want to talk in depth today about the nature of Buddhism. Very often I read in newspapers and books some strange things that are presented as Buddhism. So here, I will point out the heart of the real Buddhist teaching, not as a theory but as an experience.
At our meditation retreats, yogis practice mindfulness in four different postures. They practice mindfulness when walking, when standing, when sitting, and when lying down. They must sustain mindfulness at all times in whatever position they are in. The primary posture for mindfulness meditation is sitting with legs crossed, but because the human body cannot tolerate this position for many hours without changing, we alternate periods of sitting meditation with periods of walking meditation. Since walking meditation is very important, I would like to discuss its nature, its significance, and the benefits derived from its practice.
The object of Ch'an training is to realize the mind for the perception of (self-) nature, that is to wipe out the impurities which soil the mind so that the fundamental face of self-nature can really be perceived. Impurities are our false thinking and clinging (to things as real). Self-nature is the meritorious characteristic of the Tathagata wisdom which is the same in both Buddhas and living beings.
There are seven basic steps:
1. Start out with three or seven long in-&-out breaths, thinking bud- with the in-breath, and dho with the out. Keep the meditation syllable as long as the breath.
2. Be clearly aware of each in-&-out breath.
3. Observe the breath as it goes in & out, noticing whether it's comfortable or uncomfortable, broad or narrow, obstructed or free-flowing, fast or slow, short or long, warm or cool. If the breath doesn't feel comfortable, change it until it does. For instance, if breathing in long & out long is uncomfortable, try breathing in short & out short. As soon as you find that your breathing feels comfortable, let this comfortable breath sensation spread to the different parts of the body.
Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường, nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.
May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland, Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below, may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma, the Land of Ultimate Bliss.