The most important thing during meditation, whether seated or walking, is concentration. During walking meditation, be aware of each movement of your feet. In this way, you will feel that you will start becoming familiar with yourself, that you will come back to yourself, that you will come back to every movement of your feet and be clearly aware that “now, I am lifting up my foot, and now, I am putting it down.” If your heart/mind is not wildly dashing about outside, you will experience how joyful it is to come back to yourself.
Why do so many people enjoy the practice of Chan meditation? It is because meditation lets our spirit return home to itself. Our heart/mind is always wildly dashing about - as soon as there is anything out there, we perceive it and get involved with it. And so our heart is never really at home with itself. In walking Chan, we find a way of getting a hold of our heart, and once we have a hold of it, we can be home with ourselves. If we continue practicing walking Chan for a long time, we will find our original face.
Do you know where you are right now? Do you see that you are residing in the body? This deceptive body of ours does what it wants. When it has to die, it simply dies. When it has to get sick, it simply gets sick. Whatever it is, it does what it has to do. And so our body becomes a hindrance for us--- a hindrance that is conditioned by Karma. Since we live in this body we are restricted by our bodily conditions and receive the karmic effects of our body. In other words, we feel the condition of our body; we get sick, and we experience pain.
But who is it that feels the pain? If our spirit was not there, we would not experience any feelings whatsoever. If we did not live in this body, we would not get sick. This body is a result of Karma---it is the one that receives the effects of Karma, whether these may be good or bad. But our spirit is not the body – it is without any form or shape. So how can it experience pain? It is because of the effects of Karma.
So again – what does it mean to say that we practice seated meditation or walking meditation? It means that we let our spirit come home to itself. Without the body, we have no way of seeing or understanding our spirit, our Buddha nature, or to return home to our original face. If we want to become enlightened, we have to find our original face. This is what all the Buddhas have always told us. If we cannot find our original face, we cannot overcome the cycle of life and death, we cannot be free from suffering. Therefore, if we practice seated or walking Chan, we slowly learn to concentrate our mind, and to let our heart return to itself, so that the heart will be able to see itself, so that the heart will be at home with itself, so that it will be one with itself.
Dharma Master Hsin Tao
(Translated by Maria Reis Habito)