Starting from March 01, 2021, monastic sanghas of LJM entered the annual Spring Term Retreat. We had students from Germany and Austria in the past few years. This year, due to Covid-19, we connected through the internet. It is my hope to introduce everyone to the boundless wisdom through the simple Chan practice.
Chan practice is all about returning to our original face. This very essence has always been present before our birth, before the formation of the physical body, we are not fixated on any specific form yet. At all times, the original face stays with us. We can connect to the primordial state of being. It is termed, "spirituality", "primordial awareness", or emptiness.
The purpose of Chan practice is to break through cyclic existence, be free from living and dying, be free from afflictions. That’s why we must recover our original face that is “no arising, no cessation; no impurity, no purity; no increase, and no decrease.” The truth of all dharmas is emptiness. We must pacify all the afflictions and attachments to return to our “ancestral spirit”, the original self. It has been there even before the universe was formed. Such essence is the “oldest” spirituality that is unchanging, unarising, and unceasing.
The Buddha was the earliest man who revealed the tathagatagarbha within every sentient being. This mind of Buddha-nature is endowed with wisdom and right mindfulness. It is unarising and unceasing. The mind has wondrous awareness and wisdom. Chan practice is to approach and enter the essence of the Buddha, or the teaching of the mind. In other words, Dharma practice is to emulate the mind, the awareness, and the wisdom of the Buddha. Remember, everyone has the same nature. However, we must stay with our minds with clarity so as to approach our original face.
See how fortunate we are to practice Chan. We can explore and expand our unchanging nature through sitting meditation. We can discover our unarising and unceasing mind of unchangingness. As well, we can find our inexhaustible wisdom to cut through afflictions, living, and dying. Why is Chan so straightforward? It helps us to realize that nothing is attainable. Find our original self with the realization that nothing is attainable. As we contemplate on Chan, we are examining our mind through concentration. Eventually, we can understand our minds with clarity.
The 49-day retreat is the constant review and immersion of Chan. Too often, we get carried away by all sorts of phenomena and changes in this world. We are too distant from our original face. However, through Chan practice , we can remove all the impure intents and thoughts gradually until there are no defilements. Then, our minds would be like a cloudless sky or the full moon that are refreshing and clear.