Keys to reading words by the Chan master is to read beyond the written words:

A key to remember in reading this Q&A is that every word is a language for a practice labeled as Chan. Reading or mastering the language bears no benefit if you don’t practice. You practice, you’ll witness.

----------Taken from the Book: Introduction To sitting Chan.-----------

1. Why practice Chan? (P40)

The objective of practicing Chan is to be purified by the orthodox drama, to be completely released from the grip of karmic power of our past and to completely remove our physical and mental hindrances of the present, thereby attaining absolute purification and liberation. Thus, our journey towards Buddha land would be smooth without hindrance, and may be taken without fear or hesitation at the end of our life.

2. Benefit of mind devoid of wandering thought. (P281)

Our brain can truly rest. A true rest is more desirable than sleeping because when we dream in our sleep, our brain is still active and cannot get a complete rest.

Every day we will feel an inner joy and free of any stress. That is because our inner joy fills us and leaves no room for any worries. In Buddhist term, this is called “no dwelling”.

We will become more compassionate and tolerant. We will be more willing to accept the opinions and actions of others. Consequently, it will be much easier for us to make friends. We will complain or argue less. If an unhappy event does occur, we will just smile and ignore it.

We will become more accepting and worry less. Our personal life will become more satisfying and liberating. Our family life will be more loving. Our workplaces will be more pleasant and harmonious. If the society, the country, and the entire world could become harmonious and joyful in this manner, we will truly be living in utopia.

3. Clothing for Sitting Chan? (P122)

Wear comfortable clothing when practicing Sitting Chan. Tight clothing and belts are not suitable for Sitting Chan because they are not very comfortable. More importantly, they disrupt breathing and qi circulation. Women are advised not to wear shorts or short skirts because they are unsuitable for the Sitting Chan posture. 

4. Ideal time for Sitting Chan? (P123)

Basically, we can practice Sitting Chan at any time during the day or evening. The most desirable time, however, is between 6 to 7 o’clock in the morning. For those who must go to work or school in the morning, 9 or 10 o’clock at night would be fine for Sitting Chan as well because it is the time with less disturbance. 

5. Why must we practice Sitting Chan with our legs crossed? (P324)

To surpass or transcend ourselves is one of the most important objectives of Chan practice. The first step is to surpass our physical hindrances. If we could not even surpass our physical hindrances, how could it be possible for us to deal with other challenges, such as relationships or career development, which are not totally under our control? By training ourselves to sit cross-legged and surpassing the discomfort associated with that posture, we are also strengthening our ability to overcome more challenging situations in our daily life. If we are able to surpass all our physical pain and numbness during Sitting Chan, we could reach the next level of consciousness in furthering our capacity to transcend. 

6. There are people who say practice Sitting Chan could lead to mental disorders; is that true? (P316)

Actually, most mental patients have never practiced Sitting Chan in their lives. Therefore, we cannot say that Sitting Chan necessarily leads to mental disorders or that is attracts negative spiritual energy. Perhaps we could use the following example as a parallel: If we accidentally ate something that caused us to suffer a severe stomachache, does that mean we should never eat food again? Of course not! If does teach us, however, to eat only fresh, clean, and healthy food. The same could be said about Sitting Chan. As long as we have the proper mental attitude and follow the correct Chan methodology then there is no risk of encountering any adversity. 

7. Do I have to be a vegetarian for practicing Chan? (P108)

Being a vegetarian is not a strict requirement for reaching enlightenment. However human beings are omnivorous – we eat both vegetables and meat, and thus human beings are sometimes compassionate and sometimes violent. We know that herbivorous animals are, as a rule, tamer in temper than carnivorous animals. Therefore, vegetarians might be relatively more amicable and compassionate. If we have vegetarian meals often, perhaps we can develop compassion more easily. 

A true vegetarian is a person with a “vegetarian heart” – pure and compassionate. Some vegetarians might be irritable and have “carnivorous hearts”. On the other hand, some omnivores might have pure and “vegetarian hearts”. Chan Master Jigong, for instance, is famous for being enlightened while eating meat and drinking alcohol. Therefore, being or not being a vegetarian does not affect spiritual cultivation.

-------Answered By Brother MiaoMing----------------------------------------

1. How to effectively make heart-to-heart connection with Shifu without creating too much desire? Is it OK to visualize Shifu's image during the practice?

Visualization is not necessary. In fact it usually is created to entertain the mind when bored or maintaining focus is difficult. You create the connection, sync, not by doing something, but by stripping away everything between you and Shifu that is getting in the way and blocking the connection. Surpass body, surpass mind, relax and focus, until there is nothing left but the connection. No thoughts, no words, no feelings. The light is the entry point.

2. How long does it take to a beginner to believe there is a spirit inside the body?

It varies from people, so there will be no timeline for individuals in order to fine her or his spirit.

3. After more than a year into the practice, I still have this doubt regarding the practice as this school seems to differ from other Chan or Buddhist schools' teaching, for example we seem to downplay sutra study and recitation as forms, while others consider sutra study important for developing the right view and right intention. And we worship a Buddha different than Shakyamuni. And many practitioners seem to have the craving to attain Shifu's blessing rather than cultivating selves. It has become a hindrance for me. I respect Shifu and the instructors but how should I clear the doubt and move forward?

Since Brother Miaoming has been in other schools, your view should be very helpful.

As you may know doubt is a poison. We must be aware it and purge / purify this from the self to make progress. Awareness of acts of doubts, words of doubts, thoughts of doubts, in all its forms we need to be aware and release before it gains strength and becomes more difficult to deal with or starts affecting others around us.

Our practice doesn’t only seem different, it is most definitely different. Heart Chan can be experienced through Buddhist perspective, but this is not necessary or an exclusive path. Chan can be experienced from any path or no path. We don’t worship Buddhas, Shakyamuni, Shifu, Jesus, Muhammad, etc. We practice to be in sync with them, to become one.