Three Stages of Chan Meditation

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Three Stages of Chan Meditation

Stage 1:
To balance the development of body and mind in order to attain mental and physical health. Various methods of physical exercise for walking, standing, sitting, and reclining are used.

They are unique exercise methods combining Indian Hatha Yoga and Chinese daoyin (exercises for channeling internal energy), and can bring physical health as well as results in meditation. Thus, one who practices Chan well will definitely have a strong body capable of enduring hardship. The mind will establish a state of self-confidence, determination, optimism, peace, and stability.

Stage 2:
From the sense of the small "I" to the large "I." When you practice the method of cultivation taught by your teacher, for example, huatou or silent illumination, you will enlarge the sphere of the outlook of the small "I" until it coincides with time and space. The small "I" merges into the entire universe, forming a unity.

Since you have joined and become one with universe, the world of your own body and mind no longer exists. What exists is the universe, which is infinite in depth and breadth. You yourself are not only a part of the universe, but also the totality of it.

Stage 3:
From the large "I" to no "I." Chan is inconceivable. It is neither a concept nor a feeling. Because Chan is a world where there is no self, if there is still any attachment at all in your mind, there is no way you can harmonize with Chan.

Therefore, Chan is the territory of the wise, and the territory of the brave. Not being wise, one would not believe that after abandoning all attachments another world could appear before him. Not being brave, one would find it very hard to discard everything he has in this life - careers, knowledge, and material things.

In short, the purpose of Chan practice is to see your self-nature, and this insight is called "enlightenment." One might encounter all kinds of good experiences, physical and mental, which enhance your confidence and faith in your practice and in the Dharma, but they are not genuine enlightenment. Genuine enlightenment must be in accord with the principles of Chan: no-form, no-mind, and no-abiding.

But even this is not enough. After seeing your self-nature, you need to deepen your experience even further and bring it into maturation. You should have enlightenment experiences again and again and support them with continuous practice.


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