To Practice, Why Must We Meditate?
By Chan Master Wujie Miaotien
Translated by Zen Meditation
Most people understand practicing at the level of consciousness, which is how most people know about practicing and think it is about cultivating oneself and changing one’s temperament; however, this cannot get one to leave the state as a man, and trailokya (desire, form and the formless realms). One can only be reincarnated within the realms of mortality. This way, by no means, one can ever achieve Buddhahood. The reason why the Honored One founded Buddhism was to enable sentient beings become Buddhas.
How to become a Buddha? According to the sutras, one must undergo three kalpas. It is generally believed that this means billions of years’ uncountable difficulties and it takes millions of lifetimes’ practice. In this case, of course, one can never achieve Buddhahood. And thus, this is the common people’s unenlightened point of view.
Three kalpas do not mean length of time but whether or not you can transcend obstructions physically and mentally instantly. If so, it equals to passing two kalpas. And if you can transcend time and space ( the obstruction from the sub consciousness- past lives), you can see your own Buddha-nature ( also called as self-nature, spirit, or the original mind)
The so called three kalpas refer to obstructions from the realms of immortals, which are the obstructions of the original mind. The realm of desire is the desire from the mind- the consciousness; the form-realm means the state of physiology; as to the formless realm is the sub consciousness after passing through the physical and the conscious.
Sub consciousness is an accumulated consciousness that overlays the illuminating spirit. For example, when you have something in your mind that you cannot let go of or memories from numerous past lives, they will be accumulated here where it is like a warehouse of memories that continues to store memory since the kalpas without beginning till now. Its change starts from the part that is closest to current and then retreats back. These changes cannot be seen or seized. It is called force of karma in Buddhism. And the obstruction it produces is karmic-hindrance.
Our nature is, by nature, a pure and illuminating entity; however, it has been overlaid by the screen of past karma and the original light is hindered. So practicing is to break through the three kalpas- body (physiology), consciousness (psychology) and screen of past karma (sub consciousness) and restore our original face of illumination.
Many practitioners are bound by hindrances of body, mind and the underlying memories (karma) from countless past lives so they cannot achieve bodhi.
How can one overcome the three hindrances? Only through meditation.
In meditation, one can transcend the physical, conscious and subconscious levels and directly enter the spiritual realm of wisdom. That is a world of illumination and cannot be imagined by human brain. Such world will appear only after entering samadhi.
So to practice, one must meditate. The kind of practice that does not involve meditation can only be counted as “cultivating one’s temperament.” Even though this is good, nevertheless, we shall not feel contented by it. We have to transcend this state so we can find our inherent wisdom.
Nowadays, Buddhism is quite popular. Many people learn Buddhism. But those that truly understand the doctrines of Buddhism are few. Most people think “to do no evil, to do only good, and to purify the will, is the doctrine of all Buddhas” means to “ not do bad things, do more good things and purify every thought. Yet, such an explanation is only restricted to the level of “purifying the will,” through which one cannot become a Buddha; thus, this is passive Buddhism.
Besides “doing no evil, doing only good, and purifying the will,” to “achieve bodhi” is essential to active Buddhism. As “the will” is only the activities of the five senses and the mind, which has not gone beyond the three realms of mortality, it therefore is not absolute. One must see bodhi, see one’s original mind in other words; this then is the true teaching of Buddhism. Nonetheless, the traditional method of practice cannot enable one to achieve the absolute. Many people still remain at the stage of following and upholding commandments
In fact, the “three studies” in Buddhism- commandments, meditation and wisdom, have taught us explicitly the importance of meditation and wisdom. Thus, besides following and upholding commandments, one needs to enter meditation, so can one witness wisdom in samadhi.
Why are there many practitioners who have been practicing for a long time but so few of them have achieved enlightenment? That is because they practice with knowledge, with “false-self,” so no matter how hard they practice, it is only knowledge. After the life is over, the Buddha dharma disappears with them. There is no way one can become Buddha through this way.
The goal of practice is to deliver the binds of the spirit. But since spirit is hidden, and intangible, how can one practice? Only through meditation. Only in meditation can one be rid of the body and consciousness and directly enter the level of spirit.
The Heart- to -Heart Transmission Buddha Method is the practice method that directly points at the inherent nature and by witnessing Buddha nature, one becomes Buddha. It is a special way of transmission, which transmits through intuition rather than through words. It is not the “person” who practices; rather, it is a method of meditation that requires one to enter from mind to spirit.
The Heart Sutra says: Avalokiteshvara Buddhisattva practice deep Prajna Paramita, perceiving five skandhas all empty, which relieves all sufferings. Here, practicing deep Prajna Paramita means meditation, deep meditation. Avalokiteshvara Buddhisattva finds that in deep meditation, while the five scandhas are all empty; it is the time of the non-ego. All worries and pain are relieved. Avalokiteshvara Buddhisattva gains this pure divine wisdom in deep meditation and achieve the accomplishment of ultimate freedom.
To become Buddha, one must find the right method, and one who is a master, supreme master, dharma master, pastor or priest that has achieved buddhahood. As long as the person possesses the same power as Buddha or God, He then can help His followers to relieve all the karma and let His disciples have the power to transcend all kinds of obstacles stemming from the body and mind to furthermore, attain wisdom and let the rooted dusts become purified and be free.
If you can transcend the three realms, the chance of seeing your self-nature is rather big, for at this time, you already have a clear idea of the original mind. So, very soon, you can witness your self-nature. After witnessing the original mind, practitioners need to heed not to be fanned away by the eight winds ( i.e., gain; loss; defamation; eulogy; praise; ridicule; sorrow; joy). One should stay at the level of knowing the unrealities of things and enter even deeper meditation. As only through meditation can one firmly stay in the level of the nature of the Void or else it is very easy for one to recede.
In samadhi, one’s mind is firmer and the wisdom continues to grow. You will discover the light given out from self-nature; you will also know where this light is from, and you will pursue it and at the same time understand that everyone has the same spirit and light, and is all from the same life source. This nature of equality is dharma-nature.
When you witness the dharma nature, a heart of compassion will arise owing to “as being in one corpus; therefore, being compassionate.” At this time, whatever you think and do is that of a supreme bodhisattva. If one truly gets this kind of power and wisdom, it almost equals to half-way to reach the goal of enlightenment and it guarantees that one will achieve complete nirvana in this present life.