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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. As for Bhikshus, they are already wearing the Buddhist monks robes so what they do is naturally according to the Buddhas principle.

  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. According to his meditation position, he should develop a central thought:
    1. 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.
    2. 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:
      1. 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.
      2. 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.
      3. 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.
      4. 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.
      These constitute the main principles of Mahayana upon which an advanced yogi must centre.
    3. 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.  

II. Practice

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 (Vowels)


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:

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 of Wong:

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:

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:

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 of Buddhahood.

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 diet.

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:

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 have died.

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 rebirth.

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. When 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 of Nirvana.

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 lustful thoughts.

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.  

III. Realization

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 great mistakes.  

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.  

V. Conclusion

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 better.)

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 eulogy.

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?

[Home][Back to main list][Back to Chenian][Go to Dr. Lin's works] [Related works: Appendix III of Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical 佛教禪定實修體系 附錄三]