Buddha, Buddhism, Enlightenment, final goal, master, Meditation, Mind, Practice, present, Religion, root, sexual, true self, Truth, Uncategorized, Zen

Q230. My former master gave emphasis to sitting meditation. Do I have to sit for practice?

A. Zen meditation is not sitting itself but keeping your question. Sitting meditation is not the end but one of the means. No matter how long you may sit, it is far from Zen meditation if you don’t keep your question. Even dancing or singing, however, can be a good practice if you can keep questioning what is making your body dance or sing while dancing and singing. In fact, your posture doesn’t matter, whether sitting, standing, lying or walking, if you can keep the question.

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Let me introduce a dialogue between an ancient master and his student:

 

One day, seeing his student sitting on the rock behind the temple, the master started to grind a brick against the rock before his student.

 

Student: “Sir, what are you doing with the brick?”

Master: “I am making a mirror out of a brick.”

Student: “How is it possible to make a mirror by grinding a brick?”

Master: “What are you doing now?”

Student: “I am trying to attain enlightenment.”

Master: “How is it possible to attain enlightenment by sitting?”

Student: “What shall I do then?”

Master: “Which is right, to hit the horse or hit the cart in order to move the load?”

 

©Boo Ahm

 

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

Buddhism, Meditation, Practice, Zen

Q130. I’ve got some pain in my spine after more than ten years of meditation practice. Should I continue to practise in the same way?

A. Zen meditation is not about training our physical body; sitting upright for a long time is one of the most harmful postures to your backbone. Sitting upright can be a good posture for making strong concentration, but it is not a must. What is most essential is how to focus on your question. You can take a walk, sit leaning against something, or even lie on your back or side as long as you can make good concentration on your question. Despite having practised diligently, with good posture over a long period, you can’t be said to have practiced Zen meditation if you don’t have any change or new experience through strong concentration.

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Don’t overwork yourself (your body) in the name of meditation practice.
Would you hit the horse or the cart when you want to move the cart?
You should hit the horse. Of course, sometimes you can hit the cart to make a sound that can give a spur to the horse. However, hitting the cart to the extent that it is broken, or out of order has nothing to do with your main purpose of moving the cart. That is not moving it but destroying it.
©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway