The Precious Human Body

Don't Have to Adopt any Particular Posture

In seeking the experience of Chan, one does not have to adopt any particular posture. For example, the sick, the physically challenged, and the perpetually busy can follow the method taught by their masters and practice anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, wherever they might be, standing or sitting: in bed, in a wheelchair, in a car, at a bus or tram stop, or in an office.

The quickest and most effective method is of course practicing in the full-lotus posture. However, if beginning Chan students, particularly those of middle age or older, wish to become proficient sitting in the full lotus and to enjoy the pleasures of Chan meditation, they must first prepare to tolerate pain and numbness in the legs.

The pain and numbness in the legs is actually a part of the beginners' struggle with their own weakness. Once they have gone through this phase, they would have at least strengthened their resolve and overcome their fear of difficulty and inability to face reality. Thus quietly, they have taken one step forward in the journey of life.

Treasure This Human Body

Of all the animals, only human beings have a body structure that allows the adoption of the lotus posture. So, the methods of Chan meditation are designed only for human beings, and only human beings have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of meditation.

We ought to celebrate being born as a human being, and should treasure this human body that we have. The reason is that as humans, through Chan practice we can derive three major benefits: (1) a tough and pliable physique, (2) an alert mind, and (3) a purified personality. That is why Shakyamuni Buddha often praised the preciousness of human life when addressing his disciples, stressing that among all sentient beings between heaven and hell, those with a human body are most suited to the practice of the Buddhist path.

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