Chan Practice

Spring Term Monastic Retreat – Immeasurable Love in Emptiness

European Chan Program - Sculpting a Buddha with Nothingness-MasterHsinTaoSome people say that it is boring to be in emptiness if one sits and meditates for too long. They don't know what to do! The reason behind boredom is the lack of compassion and love. When we are doing Chan practice, compassion is needed to enter the bliss of emptiness. With compassion, empathy would be inspired. With empathy, there comes commiseration.

When compassion and emptiness are joined together, there comes a noble being or a sage. Being a sage is to have a great love for everything, mankind, and sentient beings. Just like Guan Yin (Avalokiteshvara) who is on-call in responding to suffering every second, every moment, and 24/7. She is forever responsive to all the suffering to serve all beings. As long as we need Guan Yin, she’d be right there for us and to help. Accomplished Buddhas and bodhisattvas’ qualities are love, compassion, and aspiration. These qualities are also the value of a bodhisattva.

European Chan Program - Sculpting a Buddha with Nothingness-MasterHsinTaoThe value comes from the attainment of an unchanging and loving intention of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. They aspire to benefit all the suffering beings. They also teach beings to be free from suffering and attain the ultimate happiness through spiritual pursuit – liberation for ease. Slowly, we'd uncover our original face through sitting meditation. Seeing our original face, we'd break through all confinements for freedom. Within such freedom, we're capable of great compassion.

When we’ve found that unchanginess, life span doesn’t matter anymore. We can perform compassionate activities in a short lifetime or a long lifetime. These activities are uninterrupted in unchanginess. Seeing the pain of another being is like we’re going through the same pain. Seeing the happiness of others is like we’re happy too.

The great Indian pandit Asanga spent twelve years in serious meditation at Kukkuta Padagiri. Yet, there were no signs of accomplishment. Discouraged, Asanga left his retreat cave. On his way to the village, he saw a mangy dog with its body covered in sores and a host of maggots feeding on the wounds. Out of great compassion, Asanga wanted to help the dog so he moved the maggots with his tongue. Just as Asanga stuck out his tongue, Maitreya, whom he had been praying to appear. 

European Chan Program - Sculpting a Buddha with Nothingness-MasterHsinTaoSeeing Maitreya, Asanga said, “Why did you come so late?” Maitreya responded, “I’ve never been separated from you. Because your loving mind hasn't emerged, you couldn't see me. When you generated great compassion for the dog, all the obscurations are purified. Hence, you can see me directly now."

Like the story of Asanga, we learn that Dharma practice doesn’t stand alone from love. However, before we've attained the ultimate freedom, we might be attached to all kinds of love. When we've realized emptiness, we'd no longer attach but are liberated to give immeasurable love.