The Yoga of Daily Life
Appendix III of Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical
By C. M. Chen as written down by Rev. Kantipalo
In fact the subject matter of this booklet is to be found in all three
yanas but in the Vajrayana it is called Inductive Yoga while in Chan it
appears in the common circumstances of everyday life. We may conveniently
call both by our common title which has become quite well known by now.
Daily life Chan is yoga in the position of Consequence but Inductive
Yoga is found in all the three "Cs." Even in the Hinayana and Mahayana
the practitioner should induce all the miscellaneous affairs of everyday
life into the subject of his yoga practice. Among persons with no religion,
the main thing in life is money and how to acquire greater wealth with
that money. The religious man is different. For him time is most important
and all his time is spent in religious work except when resting between
his meditations. Even periods of rest should be well utilized to complement
the meditation. Under this subject we should first know the principle and
then after that we shall come to the practice.
I. The Principle
This first part is a guide from which one may know how to take all
the sundry affairs of daily life and bring them into a yogic discipline.
- From his wisdom of hearing and thinking, the yogi should establish his
philosophy of life and of the universe both in the Buddhist sense; and
no other thoughts should be allowed to mix with this one which is centered
on Buddhist principles. Most Buddhists have not read many Buddhist books
or established a philosophy of life and of the universe but still try to
practice some meditations. Such people cannot even talk about Daily Life
Yoga let along practice it, as they lack the essential basis.
- A Buddhist should declare to all society: "Now I am a Buddhist and my character
is under the guidance of the Buddha. My life is therefore charged and I
shall no longer do evil things but strive to do only good according to
the Buddhist Sila." Such a declaration may encourage him really to make
an effort not to do evil and to learn to do good?(Dharmapada 183). This
is an important point for laymen.
Giving an example of what cannot be done, Mr. Chen said: There are
some in the West who still cling to ideas of an Absolute Creator God while
trying to practice meditationssuch half and half beliefs can only do harm
and will not prove really beneficial.
As for Bhikshus, they are already wearing the Buddhist monks robes
so what they do is naturally according to the Buddhas principle.
- Try to develop the Bodhicitta. If there is no basis for this already established
in ones regular meditations, how can a person take up daily life yoga?
- A meditator should know very exactly what his position is in the three
yanas of Buddhism. What is he able to practice, the Hinayana, Mahayana
or Vajrayana? He must examine himself carefully and without any self-deception
decide exactly which yanas meditations are suitable for him, and he will
then come to know his meditation stature.
- According to his meditation position, he should develop a central thought:
- If he is in a position to practice Hinayana then he should establish a
central thought of Hinayana, that is, one centering upon Impermanence,
Renunciation, the Precepts and the No-Self of person. These four are most
important for establishing this central thoughtand nothing conflicting
or worldy should be mixed with it. His daily life then centers upon and
is guided by this.
- If he is already very skilled in the Hinayana, he should make some progress
into Mahayana. Then he should make the sublimation in Mahayana meditation
into his central thought. He must:
These constitute the main principles of Mahayana upon which an advanced
yogi must centre.
- Try to meditate on the Sunyata of Dharmakaya and thereby recognize that
there is no difference between himself and others, love and hate, right
and wrong, good and evil. All these are in the Sunyata of Dharma-nature
and knowing this constitutes his first step.
- From this he will see the suchness (tathata) of Dharmakaya Sunyata and
will establish in his mind that I?and others?are in harmony because
all are in the same entity of the Dharmakaya.
- From this same entity of Dharmakaya, a yogi will establish his true relation
to other beings. By this causation of Sunyata, as he perceives that all
are in the same body, the Dharmakaya and thus all creatures are his parents
whirling on and on, bound to the wheel of Re-becoming. From this realization
arises the great compassion of the same entity.
- From this Great Compassion issues out the Bodhicitta of Will and of Conduct
enabling one to do many good deeds such as those emphasized in the six
Paramitas, and all without becoming tired.
- When his practice of Mahayana is very perfect, then he should take the
way of Vajrayana. He would at this time know that from the Great Pride
of Buddhahood come many good deeds to help others and that to accomplish
them there are methods in the position of Consequence. The Great Pride
and the function of a Buddha are his central thoughts here.
These are the three main principles of practice and what we have
to say about Daily Life Yoga must be harmonized with and guided by them.
Without a thorough realization of these principles, talk about Daily Life
Yoga is foolishness.
Under this section we can only show a few examples selected from
each of the three yanas. A meditator who follows the whole system of this
book will find that his conditions change even from day to day so that
he will be able to practice the different principles progressively. Therefore,
we cannot lay down any wooden rule for these examples and we should emphasize
in their practice that constant re-assessment and flexibility are required.
First then, we will introduce a mixture of the principles of the three
yanas in the three positions and after that give examples of Daily Life
Yoga in Chan.
1. When preparing to get up, the first step is to awake the mind. This
is the main thing necessary, for without it one will never arise. If one
practices the Vajrayana, many dakinis with damarus (small hand-drums) may
be heard calling out to one with loud voices. If one is a Mahayana meditator,
many heavenly girls playing music may awake the mind. One who practices
the Hinayana will probably not see forms but may hear a heavenly voiceeven
that of the Buddha himself.
Anyway, whatever the Yogis condition, a sound will awake him: "Bhikshu,
Yogi, so many sentient beings await salvation, so many good deeds are to
be done, so many Buddhas are waiting to see your Full Enlightenmentwith
so much remaining to be done, get up early."
A Bodhisattva should get up to do many good things necessary in the
Saha world, while Arhat Bhikshus must hear the voice of the Buddha calling
out to them: Wake up to the Mahayana Way. At this time, the meditator may
get some short and powerful instructions which may amaze him.
2. The eyes must be opened after the mind is thoroughly awake. During
awakening, lie on the back, do not open the eyes while lying on one side
or the other. When the mind is awake, think to oneself: The Buddhas, dakinis
and gods are so merciful to me, if I was not called by them I might die
in my sleep.
In Hinayana think: All things are impermanent and I am very fortunate
to be able to get up again. Should I not take advantage of my waking and
get up early?
Then prepare to open the eyes. First take a long and deep breath and
then several short ones like a dog sniffing. In this way the air seems
to penetrate all of the skull and freshens the mind. Under the still-closed
eyelids revolve the eyes three times to the right and then to the left.
This gets rid of eye-troubles. Then vigorously rub first the inside corners
of the eyes and then the outside, after which open them widely and look
up at the sky (or ceiling). If one is old and has eye trouble, one should
first say: Praise to the Sun God, Praise to the Moon God, Namo Subama Prabhasa.
This will cure eye diseases but if one is not afflicted by these troubles
then it is not necessary to repeat the prayer.
3. Getting up to a sitting position. If the yogi practices the Vajrayanas
Great Perfection then he should sit in the Lion posture (simhasana) and
visualize the median nerve. From his heart comes out five Red "As" which
are flung upwards out of the Buddha-hole in a straight line and which stop
five feet above his head. Meditate upon this with the thought that this
stirs up the Great Perfection view until it becomes very vivid. Then four
As of a white colour appear under the red ones. These symbolize the smoothly
flowing current of Great Perfection meditationas though the mind was smooth
as water. Three green As then take their position showing that in the
Great Perfection one may do every meditation freely and without any obstacle
just as the wind goes where it pleases. Two yellow As make the Great Perfection
very firm like the earth. One A of blue color shows that an accomplished
yogis mind has the nature of Sunyata as the sky. These five different
colours are kept in one straight line of five-foot long. Then again, visualize
the red As contracted into the white, the white into the green, green
into yellow, yellow into blue, and then withdraw the blue A into the heart.
If one practices the common Vajrayana and not the Great Perfection,
then establish ones sitting position and with folded hands repeat the
vowels and then the consonants (of the Sanskrit alphabet):
A, AA, I, II, U, UU, RI, RII, LI, LII, E, AI, O, AU, ANG, AH
KA, KHA, GA, GHA, NGA, CHA, CHHA, JA, JHA, NYA, TA, THA, DA, DHA, NA,
PA, PHA, BA, BHA, MA, YA, RA, LA, VA, SHA, KSHA, SA, HA, KSHYA (Consonants)
After this repeat your Yidams incantation and think that every Buddhas
wisdom has been bestowed upon you to practice meditation without any ignorance.
4. Putting on ones clothes. Whatever yidam the meditator has taken,
he should think of all his clothes as belonging to that yidam. With a mind
of good will say: May all sentient beings take the perfection of Patience
as their clothes and the perfection of Diligence as their armour. By so
doing, one will never suffer hunger or thirst and will escape the fruits
of past miserliness, always receiving the warm benevolence of the Buddhas.
5. Putting on ones shoes. In Vajrayana there is the mantra:
OM KAPILA KON SVAHA
which is recited at this time while blowing on the soles of the shoes.
Any small animal which is killed by being stepped upon will thus be saved
from repeated birth in the unhappy realms.
A Mahayanist may exclaim: May I not kill any living being under my feet
today and think regretfullyOh, I have not yet gained realization as great
as that of the venerable Atisha who walked always two inches above the
ground. Also he may think: May all sentient beings hear the name of the
Buddha and become themselves as the Greatest among Bipeds (Dvipaduttamathe
Buddha). May they and I indeed walk on the Great Bodhi Path.
If one practices Hinayana, it is right to think: May I tread the Noble
Eightfold Path and be able to realize the Four Noble Truths.
6. Washing the hands and face. A Vajrayanist will repeat the Mantra
OM SARVA TATHAGATA ABHIKINKATA SAMAYASIHA HUM SVAHA
and think of his own and all others?sins as washed away, fervently praying
that he may never get any chance to break the precepts. Also may all sentient
beings get the nectar from the Buddha which will irrigate the Bodhicitta
until one gets Full Enlightenment.
7. Brushing the Teeth. Think of the water as the nectar of the Buddha
and the brush is used to wash away the karma of the four kinds of evil
speech. Today, may I not use any of them. May I not quarrel with anybody.
May all sentient beings live without quarrels. May all quarrels be finished
by this yoga and today may I only speak truth and friendliness.
8. Shaving. When one wants to shave, think: May I cut off the roots
of sorrows and may all sentient beings have the chance to become Bhikshus.
9. In the Bathroom. While urinating, repeat the Mantra:
OM O MUDSA AHA LIBE SVAHA
May this urine be transformed into fragrant drink to offer to the deity
Ucchusmana who rules over many hungry ghosts congregating in lavatories,
cesspits and other dirty places, ever seeking food which at the moment
of eating they find is only water and dung. With the above mantra one offers
this to them transformed into really nutritious food. A meditator who does
this will be without disease or obstacle.
Mr. Chen then related that when the Buddha had lain down before His
Mahaparinirvana, a mantra came out of His heart and leaving the left side
of His body, vanished towards the latrines. So compassionate was He for
the salvation of even these wretched ghosts.
When passing stool, the Mantra:
OM O BIDSA AHA LIBE SVAHA
should be used to convert it into fragrant food. When the waste has left
the body one should think: The 100 syllable mantra has been practiced by
me to purify the body and mind, so may this body by ejecting this stool
be purified and the waste transformed to feed these ghosts.
10. Walking. When doing this, keep ones guru in mind and seat him either
on the head or on the shoulder and walk upright, straight, and without
delusion. Think: May all sentient beings walk on the way of the Bodhisattva
and passing the Ten Stages freely and quickly; may they achieve the goal
11. Ascending and descending. Whether it is stairs, steps, a ladder
or a mountain, with a mind full of good-will think: May all sentient beings
whatever stage of the Bodhisattva Path they are on, whether the first to
the tenth or the fourteenth, may they never fall down. In descending think:
May all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas never forget sentient beings and may
they descend from their transcendental spheres and heavens to save them.
12. Sweeping. Think of all the dirt in the world: May it be swept away
and may nobody gather the dirt of the poisons.
13. Drinking Tea. Say before taking: OM AH HUM, and take a drop of it
on the fingers and offer it to the Buddhas and then flick it off. By this
mantra, the rest which one drinks becomes nectar.
14. Eating Rice. We should offer some of it first. Then meditate: Today
I hold this rice bowl but even tomorrow I may not be able to do so. In
this way develop the idea of impermanence. Also renounce delicious tastes
and textures of food, regarding it as medicine to keep the body fit for
meditation practice. If one thinks of it in the ordinary worldly way, then
it is like poison. Think of the grace of the patron who has so generously
given this food for ones maintenance.
There is a hymn in Chinese which is always repeated before taking food:
Though from a patron I accept
One grain of rice, theres cast
A Dharma-burden on my back
That weighs like mountain vast.
Oh, if I do not practice well
And thus Sambodhi gain,
May I become my patrons hen (or cow)
And suffer grievous pain.
This is the Hinayana idea. The Mahayana follower reflects: Whatever food
I take is only for accomplishing the good deeds of the first three paramitas
and for the realization of Sunyata. If I had practiced very diligently
then I should be able to get food from meditation, and there would be no
need for me to worry about worldly food; and because of this I am ashamed
to take food from my patron. As I take their food, I will also take on
myself the fruits of their misdeeds, at the same time doing something to
increase their food merits.
If a patron has offered meat, then a practicing Vajrayanist will pronounce
the meat-mantra or the usual OM AH HUM, which will have the effect of liberating
that dead animal from evil births and converting the meat into nectar.
Thus, one has a good chance to help that animal and one should declare:
When I am a Fully Enlightened Buddha, by this karmic connection may that
animal become one of my disciples.
When one reflects on indebtedness both to the patron and to the animalhow
then would it be possible not to practice meditation diligently?
When he was given an egg, a Chan monk spoke the following verse:
Though you have neither bone nor hair,
Within are Heaven and Earth, the pair;
Ill bring you safe unto the Pure Land,
And set you free, from cooks life-taking hand.
This is not an excuse for a vegetarian to take eggs, for that Chan monk
was very spiritually accomplished. Once he took some chicken and then vomited
out a live hen, minus one leg which had been stolen by his servant. If
you can do the same with either eggs or chicken, then you may eat them
bothwithout such accomplishments, it is better to keep strictly to a vegetable
From taking food carefully and thoughtfully, two qualities may be strengthened:
the mental status of gratitude and regret. Here I have my own experience:
When I was living in a cave, I was taking only a little rice and no vegetable
as it was not available. From fifty miles away, a lady to whom I was distantly
related, brought me some beef. Then I noticed that a mind of greed had
arisen. What is the use, I thought, of being a hermit and finding that
on the first temptation to take tasty food, strong desires for it are stirred
up! So I disgustedly threw that offering on the table. The lady questioned
me as to why I behaved like that and I told her. She nevertheless cooked
the food for me and then went away. Even in a cave, a hermit may get some
offering so he should first have renunciation and then this sort of thing
would not happen to him. If, after two years of hermit life, one suddenly
has a craving for meat, then know that renunciation is not very strong.
Always keep renunciation, counselled Mr. Chen, even when one is offered
something good. If one takes it, then it should be offered to the Buddha
thinking: O blessed one, you are my Teacher. My religion is the way you
have shown, your teaching is one of renunciation. Therefore, please accept
this proffered gift.
In the Buddhist Fire Sacrifice, all the good and precious things which
have been offered by a patron are all consigned to the flames and not a
scrap of anything is kept for oneself. Even the merit of performing the
sacrifice is turned over to the patron. That is why many times such a fire
sacrifice with plenteous offerings I have performed.
In Daily Life there are many contacts with others, as when one receives
food from a patron. Get into the habit of offering everything and do not
think of oneself as a hermit and therefore quite independent of others.
After one has offered the gift to the Buddha then He gives it back again
so that when I take it I have in addition my gratitude to the Enlightened
One and, of course, I turn the merits of having made this body fire sacrifice
to Dharma work over to the patron.
When cloth or other useful (and to a monk, allowable) articles are given,
one should proceed in the same way. With any gift presented by any person
remember to pronounce OM AH HUM. Thus, making the merits available to others.
OMTransforms the merits into endless forms. AHPurifies them. HUMMultiplies
them to infinity.
Whatever food is offered, do not take it all; give some to birds and
dogs and any other creatures. Share it among all. First offer it to the
Buddha and then renounce a part of it for the animals.
After taking the food, the bowl at least has to be washed. Here we should
know that there was a certain protector who vowed to the Buddha to protect
his disciples if only they would give him the washing-up water. To offer
the water to this protector, there is the mantra:
OM WUCHITSA PALINDA KAKAKAHIKAHI
I do this everyday with the thought: Please take this. I offer it with
both hands and pour it on the ground. If a dog comes, there may be some
spirit which comes with it, so do not drive the animal away. In fact, one
should let any creature take it.
There is still another reason for offering before taking for oneself
as the following story shows: A monk in Tibet was once passing through
a mountainous area. An evil spirit of that place transformed itself into
the shape of a wine-selling girl. The monk after toiling over such a rough
road was very thirsty. Seeing the wine (really poison) he became desirous
of drinking some for he was very fond of it. Taking a glass of it he raised
it to his lips, and then, just in time, remembered to make the offering
of it first. Preannouncing OH AM HUM, the wine showed its true nature of
a deadly poison. If he had not remembered to make the offering, he would
Some people also give with a concealed intention, they love you or want
to get something from you. For this purpose they may present a yogi with
charmed food over which an enchanting mantra has been spoken. If one greedily
takes all the good oneself, then one is cursed and falls under the sway
of its power. On the other hand, if one offers the food and only takes
part of it, then only a partial effect is possible. OM AH HUM is the complete
safeguard and no harm can come after it has been pronounced.
15. If a beggar asks for alms then it should be given to him to the
best of ones ability. It is not proper to consider first whether he is
from ones own religion or an outsider, or the richness or poverty of ones
own person. Do not think about what religion is. Just give to him. When
one meets someone following a religion of outsiders, while giving alms
repeat the formula of taking Refuge thinking: Now this beggar is an outsider
but through this alms-giving, someday he may be a Buddhist. Some beggars
not only ask for money but carry with them the image of their god and know
his mantra. Therefore, one should think: He is willing to take my offering
so he should also take my Refuges. At the same time be careful of some
beggars who have obtained some power with their mantras and while giving
to them, protect oneself by taking the Refuges. Thus, we see that Refuge
taking at the time of almsgiving to beggars has two advantages, one for
the beggar and one for the practitioner.
One should not be small-minded in giving alms by contributing only to
beggars of ones own religionas I am afraid many Buddhists dobut contribute
to all impartially.
16. Suppose one is traveling and meets some trouble. When one is walking
along and sees potentially dangerous things on the way, such as broken
glass, banana skins or stones, then remove them and with good-will think:
May all obstacles on the Four Noble Paths be removed by the Buddha.
Seeing some paper with words on it, lift it up and put it in a higher
place with the idea that: May these words be used in Buddhism to manifest
the Truth. For this reason, at least, they should not be trodden on. When
one sees paper of the same color as ones Yidam then think: Oh, this is
my Yidams color and certainly must not be trampled underfoot.
If one is in a car or bus, visualize that vehicle as rolling forward
on Dharma-wheels and causing no harm or injury to any one. From my own
practice, I have a story: I was a professor of two colleges, one in the
North and the other in the South of the city. When I took the bus to go
from one to the other, I would sit down and visualize as I have described
while inwardly repeating OM MANI PADME HUM, the four wheels of the vehicle
becoming the revolutions of the mantra. Doing this, ones mind should be
concentrated and full of mercy, thinking that even a small ant should not
suffer under the wheels. One day, traveling in this way, I met a professor
of biology and started to discuss some matters with him. But I forgot to
repeat the mantra and then soon after distinctly heard a voice from heaven
saying, "Why do you not repeat the mantra?" Hurriedly recollecting myself,
I had barely repeated it twice when I heard the screeching of brakes and
the curses of the driver. An old person had stepped into the road and nearly
been run over. As it was, the victim suffered little hurt but could easily
have been killed. To repeat a mantra and to visualize in this way is a
small thing to do but has indeed great results in saving others. It is
possible to use the mantra of any yidam for this purpose.
17. When one passes through the streets of a city, many beautiful things
are to be seen, such gorgeous materials and luscious foods. If a greedy
thought arises in the mind, think: These things are so good that they should
be offered to the Buddha and are not for me. Maintain at this time the
mind of renunciation. If one can meditate in the Mahayana way, you may
see all these things as shadows. This may be done very nicely in the case
of clothes-shops where the live owner and his plastic dummies may sometimes
be seen side by side. Depending on the power of ones meditative force
one may see both the live and the models quite clearly as shadows.
18. When one meets with an old, sick or dying person, think as the Buddha
did: These are all signs offered to me by the gods as reminders that one
day I may also die. If a meditator practicing the Vajrayana comes to a
dead or dying person, Phowa should be practiced to help them gain a good
19. Going to the hospital to give some help to the poor and sick theresuch
is better in any case than going to the houses of rich and healthy patrons.
When a yogi sees the patients, if he is practicing Hinayana, he should
recite the Sutra of protection (paritrana). A Mahayanist will meditate
on Sunyata to effect a cure, while a Vajrayana follower may use a mantra.
If one has money, always keep some effective and simple medicine for
the treatment of any one needing them, regardless of whether they are Buddhist
or otherwise. But, warned Mr. Chen, be careful of medicine for internal
treatment for unless one is a doctor, patients may become worse and not
better as a result of ones ministrations. It is good to have some proper
medical knowledge so that treatment may be given freely.
20. When one meets someone doing goodwhatever good it is that they
are doing, giving alms, worshiping at a shrine, asking for an explanation
of Buddha-dharmaalways give your approval and, indeed, praise for such
things. (In Theravada countries, the thrice repeated "Sadhu" meaning "it
is good" is usually used to express agreement with meritorious actions).
If we are skilled in seeing what is good even in a small and ordinary affairs
not connected with religion, then we may gain many merits without a great
deal of hard work being necessary.
21. In ordinary life, it is usual to have contacts with many other people.
With others we should always use good words and never those which are deceitful
or might lead to quarrels.
22. If one gets a chance to do some good then use that opportunity for
the greatest good. Whereas Buddhists are inclined to weigh up their merits,
the followers of Confucious keep a check on the good deeds themselves saying
at the end of each day: Yes, that and that thing have been done by me.
Both are good ways, Mr. Chen added.
23. If one meets a person about to kill an animal, try with all ones
power to stop him doing so and thus save that creatures life and make
ones own life prolonged.
24. Always maintain a mind grateful for the beauties or blessings of
nature. On a cold day, a ray of sunshine cheers one, give thanks for this.
the day is hot, a breeze is cooling, give thanks. Sometimes one may feel
drawn to meditationat this time recognize that ones inclination is a
bestowal of the Buddhas and sincerely thank them.
25. When one comes upon a quarrel or fight, whether with words or blows,
try ones best to settle it peacefully.
26. Meeting a beautiful girl or handsome boy (according to what the
opposite sex is) if one practices the Hinayana disciplines, keep the impurity
meditation well in mind. The Mahayanist may think: if the person is younger
than himself, then he or she is ones own son or daughter. When of equal
age, he or she is ones own brother or sister, while those older than oneself
are either father or mother and should, therefore, be respected. A Vajrayanist
in the presence of a beautiful girl, recollects that she is the dakini.
27. Passing a slaughterhouse do not merely be disgusted but develop
the mind of Great Compassion for all the dead, dying, and terrified animals
in that place.
28. If one passes a grave-yard or cremation ground, several things may
be done. First, develop the thought of impermanence which one must learn
to accept and from which one has to learn not to flinch. Then, for ones
own protection, a mantra may be used. Finally, for the benefit of beings
departed who linger still in ghost form, practice Phowa for them. When
I first came to Calcutta, related our yogi, and waited to obtain a pass,
I stayed near the Chinese cemetery and saw many neglected graves there.
No Puja was performed for the dead as there was no Chinese monk resident
in the city. Many had died but no religious ritual had been performed to
help them. So, for three weeks I lived among the graves from midnight to
early morning and, spending my own money, performed the Puja and practiced
Chod (offering all of oneself to the hungry ghosts, etc. See Tibetan
Yoga and Secret Doctrines published by Oxford Press.)
29. Seeing birds fly through the air is a reminder for us and we should
ask ourselves: How can we make our Sunyata meditations as perfect as those
of Milarepa who could fly in the sky !
30. When we see any animal showing affection toward another, then we
may ask ourselves: How can we make the world full of love? And realize
that the answer to this question lies in making our Buddhism spread everywhere
in the world (which means, of course, first making it spread within ourselves,
that is, realizing the Truth of it for oneself.)
31. Seeing bees flying, we are reminded: How can we gain that Essence
of Buddhism which is as sweet as honey?
32. Upon seeing a fat pig, think compassionately of such animals raised
only for their flesh. And then reflect again that their dead bodies have
at least some food-value, but what of our own? Are they not useless? In
my cave in the wilds of China, there was near its entrance a small temple
where, as there was no monk, an old widow stayed and fed some pigs. These
were kept in a sty just next to where the Buddha was sitting and everyone
who passed by was asked by the old woman: Are my pigs fatter now? Consequently,
I wrote a poem:
The pigs stay for a few days only
While the old woman asks: How are they? Fat?
Should we not reflect on what our mind is fixed?
Should our progress to Enlightenment be delayed?
People only ask about flesh and are not concerned with their realization
33. Going to bed and taking off ones shoes, question oneself: Shall
I put them on again tomorrow? Mentally resolve that ones sleep may be
short and undisturbed by bad dreams and resolve also upon getting up early
on the morrow.
34. When going to sleep practice the sleeping meditations, thinking
that all the universe is induced into the hermitage, the hermitage into
light, light into the body, the body into the Bija-mantra and lastly, this
into the Dharmakaya. Thus, one goes to sleep in the Dharmakaya.
35. During dreams. If one practices the Pure Land Meditation, take advantage
of the dream and try to go there. When one wakes up a little, concentrate
the mind and endeavor to discover the Dharmakaya light again. Pray for
this and the Pure Land should also then appear.
Be careful of periods in the night between real sleep when in a half-wake
state, the penis easily becomes erect and lustful thoughts invade the mind
leading quickly to a seminal discharge. As soon as one becomes aware of
either erection or of lustful thoughts, visualize the penis becoming a
vajra, the head of which turns inside itself and rises up within the body.
In this process the semen about to be discharged meets the fire and is
melted or dispensed. In this way one both keeps the semen and stops the
36. If one is middle-aged or old it is neither advisable nor necessary
to sleep for a long time. Not being able to sleep properly and only turning
over and over, the yogi should alert himself: I cannot sleep so why do
I not get up and practice meditation? At midnight and in the early morning,
it is all very quiet and a fine time to practice.
Young people must have enough sleep or they will only experience a sleepy
mind during the day, but they should not on this account unduly prolong
their sleeping hours.
1. With so many miscellaneous events in life, it is easy to forget
their identity with the principles of Daily Life meditation. It is essential,
therefore, to maintain mindfulness to integrate ones endeavors with whatever
are the main meditations practiced.
2. It shows very good progress when the Daily Life meditations are always
mindfully identified with whatever one is doing.
3. The yogi must guard against the disease of over-familiarity. In this
mental attitude, noble aspirations and mantras just flow on without any
attention being paid to them or their having any real relationship with
ones actions. Because these have become habitual and are practiced without
mindfulness, so the mind flies off on to other things. While the mantra
etc. may go on repeating itself like a cracked record on a gramophone.
For real Daily Life practice, mindfulness is essential while maintaining
a high degree of Samatha or it will not be effective. I have written an
essay on this illness and have suggested there many ways to cure it.
Why should one take all these things so lightly? All our actions of
Daily Life should be performed with this yoga, both carefully and with
seriousness. If one contracts only a small disease in this type of meditation,
there is danger of grave consequence and the yogi may easily fall into
IV. Daily Life in Chan
All the Daily Life incidents recorded in Chan sayings are in the
position of Consequence because unless it is merely Mouth Chan, it is
always in the same position. Here I give some examples:
Chou Chu was sweeping when another monk came to him. The latter said:
"Has your mind still some defilement?" Chou Chu replied: "Yes, why not."
The other, "Why has it?" "Then," said Chou Chu, "by just saying this the
dust of defilement increases by one speck."
Can any in the West understand this? Can they sweep in this way? To
follow, we have another story on taking tea.
Once the monk Sung-Tsan invited Upasaka Pang Vin to drink tea with
him. Pang lifted his tea up by the saucer saying: Eh, Bhante, every one
may share it, why can nobody speak out the truth? The Upasaka questioned:
"Why can you speak like this?" Sung-Tsang: "It cannot be without speaking."
Pang: "truly." Then Sung-Tsan drank his tea by himself, without waiting
for the other to drink with him. Pang: "You drink by yourself, why do
you not bless us?" Sung Tsan: "No need again."
Another monk Diannja heard of this story and exclaimed: A person other
than Sung-Tsan might have been bothered by the Upasaka. When the Upasaka
heard this, he is reported to have said: "Why did he not recognize it before
I lifted up the cup?"
Everyone in the West who takes tea can act in this way, but do they?
They may be able to talk like this but is it based on any experience or
just playing with words? Now let us have a story on walking.
Three monks, Lang-Chen, Ma-Cho and Kuei-tzung met and wished to go together
to worship the National Teacher Lang-Chen. They set out on their journey,
walking, of course. In the dust of the road in front of them, Lang-Chen
drew a circle and said: "If you can speak out about this then we can go
on together." Then the monk Kuei-tzung sat down in the circle while Ma-Cho
just worshipped him in the manner of a girl and as though Bodhi Dharma
himself was there. Lang-Chen said: "If thus, we need not go." Kuei-tzung
then exclaimed: "What a work of the mind like this!" Lang-Chen: "We go
back." And so they did not go.
You all go here and theredo you go in this way?
Another story. Pang Vin once fell down on the ground and seeing this
his daughter came and purposely fell down beside him. Said Pang: "Why
have you also fallen?" His daughter: "I have just come to save you." Pang
just stood up and smiled.
Mr. Chen added: But if I were Pang-Vin I should say: You are falling
into the ordinary condition.
Generally we have emphasized that Daily Life Yoga is a by-product and
is always considered after the main practice with a view to integrating
the miscellaneous activities of life into the main meditation. In the second
section of Daily Life Yoga we have seen some examples in all the three
positions but we must always keep in mind that true Chan is in the highest
position, that of Consequence, as are the examples given here. When one
actually gets realization of Chan, this will be found to be a great Dharma
benefit. But for the practice of Chan in Daily Life, at least the first
three of the four stages into which I have divided Chan must have been
completed. I have read a Soto Zen Patriarchs instructions and know from
what he says that he himself could not practice in Daily Life. Falling
into several mistakes how can such instructions lead the West? This sort
of doctrine is not a real one. First one should always gain realization
for oneself, then everything may be accomplished.
Of our stages in Chan, entering into, leaving and the utilizing, it
is in this third stage when Daily Life is practiced. Without the first
two, how can this Daily Life practice be done? One should neither deceive
oneself nor others in this matter.
There is no time when there is no opportunity, and no place where
one is without a guru. In fact there is no space where the grace of the
Buddha has disappeared. The universe is just like a great classroom and
all phenomena are our books, and all human beings are our gurus. All sounds
are incantations, all spaces are shrines, all times are for us to do good.
If we govern our lives very nicely then there are many chances to practice
Daily Life Yoga. It is said by Confucius that where three people are working,
from one of them I can learn something (according to ancient interpretations,
this should be walking? but I think, said our yogi, that our sense is
I am sure that instead of learning from only one in three, it is possible
to learn from everyone. From equals one gets help, those superior are ones
gurus while people worse than ourselves show us their mistakes, thus warning
us which way we should not go.
We should always take good examples from the conduct and meditations
of the famous ancients but not compare and give ourselves ignorance by
following persons of the present age as they are full of pride. Therefore,
frequently read the biographies of the real sages of Buddhism and let their
Daily Life Practice inspire us.
Do not think: Many persons do evil much of the time so why should I
not do likewise? Why not accept the common standard, as rogues often appear
to go unpunished and may even thrive (for the time being). Falling into
this error one really becomes in the Buddhist sense a low caste person.
Always keep the mind in Samadhi where it cannot be moved by the Eight
Windsneither by gain, loss, pride, ridicule, sorrow, joy, defamation nor
Always keep the Bodhicitta, particularly the Wisdom-heart of Will and
of Conduct. Based upon this principle, one may do every good just as John
Wesley (1703-91) said:
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
Thus your Daily Life will not pass in vain, our yogi added.
Again, said Mr. Chen. I must stress again: Daily Life Yoga is a by-product
and is only practiced to the extent that goal of ones main meditation
is furthered. If one has not accomplished the main practices, what will
Daily Life Yoga mean?
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[Related works: Appendix III of Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical