Chan Practice

Chan practice, making space for mind

禪修找尋心靈的空間-心道法師Before Chan practice, we should break through the rigidity in terms of our habitual thinking process. Let’s try to feel our mind first. Some people try Chan practice out of curiosity, some are following the trend, some look for healthiness and longevity, and some anticipate being free from samsara.

In order to exit from samsara, be free from reincarnation, to eradicate afflictions, and seeing our Buddha nature – we need to have an understanding of living and dying. “Who” is reincarnating? There’s got to be an “I” to reincarnate, if not, who is? Is there a real “I” or not? This is something to contemplate on for Chan practice, to find out who am “I”?

This physical body is made up of the Four Primary Elements: earth, water, fire, and air. At death, the elements dissolve and that’s why the body is subject to collapse. Often, people misidentify this body as “I”. When we die, “I” am gone. In fact, the reason of living and dying is because of karmic memories. These memories contain information of whom we’ve interacted with, the attitude of living, and the manners of communicating, and more.

禪修找尋心靈的空間-心道法師If we know the principle of karmic seeds or memories, we would act appropriately. This is to build up the future environment and interactions. Be mindful of your actions now as they are the factors of your future memory drive and functioning software, may they be good or bad, virtuous or not.

Our mind tags along with phenomena, feelings, and opinions. We internalize the surrounding people, events, and matters to determine our thinking process, opinions, and behavior. We falsely believe that the external constituents make up our mind and who we are. Hence, we become confused. Is that really so? Or maybe not? With this analysis, we can contemplate with mindfulness and would become more diligent with Chan practice.

Chan, is the space of mind. How do we make space for the mind? It is through realization. In this context, the Mandarin Chinese word is “cān wù (參悟)”. “cān(參)” is to figure things out, while “wù (悟)” is to realize or comprehend. Chan – is to make space for the mind.