Systematic and Practical
A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi
C. M. CHEN
Written Down by
REVEREND B. KANTIPALO
First Published in 1967
THE YOGA OF DAILY LIFE
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.
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.
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
Giving an example of
what must not be done, Mr. Chen said:
some in the West who still cling to ideas of an absolute Creator God while
trying to practice Buddhist meditations—such
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!"
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.
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?"
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):
A:, I, I:, U, U:,
:, LI, LI:, E, EI, O, OU, ANG, A.
KA, KHA, GA, GHA, NGA, CHA, CHHA, JA, JHA, NYA, TA, THA, DA, DHA, NA, PA, PHA,
BA, BHA, MA, YA, RA, LA, VA, SHA, KSHA, SA, HA, KSHYA.
repeat the yidam's incantation, and think that every
Buddha's wisdom has bestowed on you the capacity to practice meditation without
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
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.
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!"
practices the Hinayana, it is right to think:
"May I tread the Noble Eightfold Path and be able to realize the Four
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.
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!"
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
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
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
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!"
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!"
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!"
Think of all
the dirt in the world: "May it be swept away, and no one gather the dirt
of the poisons!"
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.
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
There is a
hymn in Chinese which is always repeated before taking food:
from a patron I accept
grain of rice, there's cast
dharma-burden on my back
weights like mountain vast.
if I do not practice well
thus sambodhi gain,
I become my patron's hen
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!"
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:
you have neither bone nor hair
are Heaven and Earth, the pair,
bring you safe unto the Pure Land,
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.
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
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:
the offerings into endless abundance;
them into nectar.
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
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
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.
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.
OM AH HUM is the complete safeguard and no harm can come after it has been
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.
not be small-minded about giving alms, but contribute to all impartially.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
comes upon a quarrel or fight, whether with words or blows, one should try
one's best to settle it peacefully.
the Opposite Sex
a beautiful woman or handsome man, if you practice the Hinayana disciplines, keep the impurity meditations well in mind.
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, 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
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.")
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?"
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).
flying, we are reminded: "How can we gain the essence of Buddhism, which
is as sweet as honey?"
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?"
I wrote a poem:
pigs stay for a few days only
the old woman asks: "How are they? Fat?"
we not reflect on what our mind is fixed upon?
our progress to Enlightenment be delayed?
ask about flesh and are not concerned with their realization of nirvana.
33. Going to
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It shows very
good progress when the daily life meditations are always mindfully integrated
with whatever one is doing.
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
Zhao Zhou was
sweeping when another monk came to him. The latter said, "Has your mind
still some defilement?"
replied, "Yes, why not?"
said, "Why has it?"
said Zhao Zhou, "by just saying this the dust of defilement increases by
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?"
said, "It cannot be without speaking," and not waiting for the other
man, drank his tea by himself.
"You drink by yourself, why do you not bless us?"
"No need again."
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?"
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.
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
Nan Quan said, "We go back." And so they did not go.
You all go
here and there—do you go in this way?
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?"
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.'"
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
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
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.
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.
the mind in samadhi where it cannot be moved by the
eight worldly winds—gain, loss, pride, ridicule, sorrow, joy, praise, and
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
all the good you can,
all the means you can,
all the ways you can,
all the places you can,
all the times you can,
all the people you can,
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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[Related works:The Yoga of Daily Life