Chan Practice

Spring Term Retreat - My Spiritual Journey (2)

Spring Term Retreat - My Spiritual Journey (2)-MasterHsinTaoAfter being ordained, I’ve always liked to emulate the asceticism of Mahakashyapa. He was also known for his exertion for practicing in the graveyard. I thought to myself, “If Mahakashyapa could do it, I think I can too!” That’s why I settled in the cemetery not long after ordination. Being in such an environment, the idea of ghosts was terrifying. This also pushed me to meditate and practice diligently. I wouldn’t dare to raise any wrong ideas. I just worked hard silently.

I spent 18-20 hours for daily practice. The rest of the time is left with four to six hours for meals and rest. I’ve laid down a solid foundation during that period of time. I had the determination of “die-hard” to practice. Greediness was lessened. These attaching ideas are killed. To eradicate habitual tendencies and afflictive emotions — would require a period of asceticism.

Later, I would have one meal a day. Yet, it soon seemed too excessive. So I decided to fast. Through fasting, greedy ideas no longer rise. Two years of fasting had reduced afflictive emotions. Spirituality would break through the cocoon and manifest its brilliance.

Spring Term Retreat - My Spiritual Journey (2)-MasterHsinTaoThat’s why we must block these afflictive ideas and attachments. Transform our mindstream with purity. “Our true nature is emptiness”. Habituate ourselves with this in mind. Look at our true nature without any ideas or clinging. Allow this “mind of emptiness” to integrate our daily life. That way, we can be liberated, free, clear, comprehensive, and without pressure. While there’s existence, there’s also non-existence. “Form is emptiness; emptiness also is formed.” This is the free life of a Dharma practitioner.