chan patriarchs
By Daniel Scharpenburg

I want to talk about Ch’an meditation.

Master Xu Yun said that it means “unperturbed abstraction.” If we can see through our delusions, then we will be Awakened, we will be Buddhas. That is the message of the Ch’an school.

The teaching of our sect consists of directly realizing our true nature, which is beyond words.

Once a student asked the old master Nan Chuan, “What is the way?” and Nan Chuan replied, “The ordinary mind is the Way.”

Because we bind ourselves with our delusion, we fail to realize that we are all Enlightened within.

When Ch’an Master Fa Ch’ang asked Master Ma Tsu, “What is Buddha?” Ma Tsu replied:

“Mind is Buddha.”

Enlightenment is our true nature and that is the message of our lineage.

Master Yuan Miao said: “Ch’an training is like throwing into a deep pond a tile which sinks to the bottom.”

When we engage in a meditation practice like this we must persist until we reach the “bottom”, until we see our true nature.

The only reason we do not realize our Enlightenment is because our practice hasn’t flowered to the point of penetrating our delusion and seeing our true nature.

Self-cultivation is like building a fire by rubbing sticks together. We have to know how to do it and if we don’t know how, having someone around to teach us really helps. This is why having a teacher or a community (or both) really helps us on our journey.

Although we know that Mind is Buddha, that our true nature is Enlightened already, we have trouble accepting this. Our methods, whether they are shamatha, hua tou, chanting, or devotion, are the tools that we are using to try to start the fire of Enlightenment.

When we know our method well and we use it unceasingly, we will build that fire. We will come to Awakening.

If we believe in the path and pursue it, then Awakening.

Now let us pursue it.


Editor: Ty H Phillips

Photo: (source)



Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg is an independent dharma teacher in Kansas City. He gives teachings Monday nights through the Open Heart Project, an online meditation community with over 20,000 members.

He went through teacher training and took Bodhisattva and Lay Ordination Vows in the Rime Tradition. He also spent time as a novice monk in the Five Mountain Zen Order.

Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook and Youtube
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