Chan Meditation Roadmap
Practice during the Pandemic
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Great Dharma Drum presents Master Sheng Yen's talks on Buddha-dharma and various issues. To watch more, please visit here.
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Before taking the Buddhist precepts-- be they the Three Refuges, the Five, Eight and Ten Precepts, or even the Complete Precepts and Bodhisattva Precepts--it is necessary for us to go through the...
Master Zhiyi of the Tiantai School of Chinese Buddhism mentioned, in the Manual of the Lotus Samadhi Repentance Ritual, that prior preliminary practices are necessary to cultivating any Dharma ga...
Q4: What is the difference between repenting alone in front of a Buddha statue and participating in a repentance-prostration Dharma assembly?
When Master Sheng Yen underwent solitary retreat in Meinong, Kaohsiung, he performed the Great Compassion Repentance Ceremony by himself. In his book, Master Sheng Yen's Teaching on Guanyin Bod...
Many people think that participating in the Great Compassion Repentance and the Emperor Liang Repentance service or admitting one's wrongdoings in mind is enough to purify negative karma. In fa...
Repentance and regret are not the same. Regret means suppressing upset feelings rather than facing them or dealing with them. When accumulated over time, these negative emotions are like the dirt a...
Q&A Regarding the Practice of Repentance Prostration Can practicing repentance prostration really eradicate one's karmic hindrances? What is the difference between repenting and feeling ...
"I wholeheartedly pay homage to Shakyamuni Buddha. I wholeheartedly pay homage to the World Honored One Amitabha Buddha of the Western World of the Ultimate Bliss…" Through these...
First of all, we need to clarify that it is not "meditation" that makes you irritable. Instead, meditation helps you identify the causes of irritability. Feeling irritable and unable t...
After grasping the fundamentals of meditation, we may notice and wonder, "Why are there so many scattered thoughts?" whenever we sit down to practice. Many beginners will have the misperc...
How do we practice relaxing ourselves? First of all, we can pay more attention to our bodily sensations, making ourselves become more aware of them. We can also observe the effects of our behavior,...
Second Impediment: Why do I feel drowsiness and leg pain when practicing in the Meditation Hall, even though everything feels fine during my meditation routine at home?
Drowsiness is most obvious phenomena arising in practitioners during Chan retreats, as participants usually feel fatigue on the first few days of retreats. Once their physical and mental fatigue is...
First Impediment: How to deal with leg pains, soreness, aches, itchiness, and numbness while meditating?
Drowsiness, wandering thoughts, controlled breathing, sore legs and overall body tension…these are the most common problems that beginners frequently encounter while meditating, leading them...
As Master Sheng Yen said, sitting meditation has three functions: to harmonize body and mind, attain mental stability, and develop wisdom and compassion. Beginner Chan practitioners usually experie...
Prostrating to the Buddha is the way for Buddhists to express respect and gratitude to the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. In addition to praying for the avoidance ...
When prostrating to the Buddha, how do we utilize the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (satipaṭṭhāna)-- the method of mindful contemplation of our body, feelings, mind, and dharmas-- to practice obs...
Prostrating to the Buddha is a fundamental requirement to practice Buddhism. Similar to the trend of vegetarianism, more and more people are taking up prostration practice purely for health reasons...
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 5. Can prostrating to the Buddha eliminate karmic obstacles?
Many people have encountered numerous physical and psychological obstacles in the process of studying Buddhism. For example, when meditating, their minds always wander; or, when listening to the su...
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 4. Are the objects to which Buddhists prostrate only limited to Buddha statues?
No. The objects to which Buddhists prostrate include the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The first jewel is the Buddha. The Buddha statue represents the pr...
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 3. When is the appropriate time to make prostrations to the Buddha? How many prostrations should one perform?
Generally speaking, there are no special restrictions on the appropriate time and the number of prostrations. Practitioners can set up a daily routine for their prostration practice, either through...
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 2. If we do not have a Buddhist altar or a Buddha statue at home, then towards which direction should we prostrate?
Buddhist altars and Buddha statues are useful aids for our practice. If we have no Buddha statues to which to prostrate, we can use Sutras or Dharma quotes instead. This is because they are wisdom ...
Common Qs and As on the Practice of Prostrating to the Buddha - 1. Buddhism does not advocate for idolatry, so why would people still make Buddha statues and even prostrate to them?
Prostrating to the Buddha is the first step for every Buddhist who is embarking on Buddhist practice. However, do the Buddha and Bodhisattvas really require us to prostrate? When should we prostrat...
Most of the gestures that Buddhists use to express sincere reverence come from the "nine forms of showing respect in India". They are: speaking softly to inquire about another's well-...
Prostrating to the Buddha is an important Buddhist practice, but what is its actual purpose? And, does the act of prostration really bring about protection and blessings? The purpose of prostrat...
A: When sick, it is only natural for many Buddhists to want to rely on the mercy and the power of the Medicine Buddha (Bhaiṣajyaguru-vaiḍūryaprabhārāja) and Guanyin Bodhisattva (Avalokiteśvara) by ...
Yes, it is alright. Reciting the Buddha's name is a method of Buddhist practice, so as long as time and space permits, we can certainly use this method for our practice, at any time and place. ...
Both Buddha-name recitation and dharani chanting are methods of practice used to help us cultivate concentration. Chanting a dharani is equally meritorious to reciting a Buddha's name, without ...
A: Prayer beads or a counter are highly recommended for beginners who have yet to develop their habit of reciting the Buddha's name. Firstly, they conveniently keep tabs on an individual's ...
A: Many people constantly think that practicing Buddhism or reciting the Buddha's name is a practice intended only for the sick and the elderly. They assume that because they are old, sick, or ...
Q2 : To perform Buddha-name recitation, should we limit ourselves to only reciting Amitabha Buddha"? Or would reciting several Buddhas’ names afford additional blessings and protection?
Reciting any Buddha's name not only refers to reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha, but actually encompasses all buddhas and bodhisattvas. The method of Buddha-name recitation originated fro...
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Buddha Name Recitation Those who are new to Buddhism may have many questions, yet do not know to whom or where to turn for answers. The following compilati...
For many people, "Amitofuo (Amitabha Buddha)" is a Buddhist chant they had heard even before they were familiar with Buddhism. However, "reciting the Buddha's name" is still...
The Heart Sutra 1. The Causes and Conditions of Expounding the Teachings The Heart Sutra, which expounds the concept of emptiness in Mahayana Buddhism, is the most condensed and widely-ci...
Preparation for Sutra Reading 1. Mindset Why do we read sutras? The main purpose of reading sutras is not to acquire Buddhist knowledge or for academic purposes. Rather, we take the sutra as a ...
When we want to read a Buddhist sutra, as long as we grasp its basic structure, know its basic elements, and have a basic understanding of its characteristics, we should be able to realize its main...
Buddhist sutras contain the Dharma as taught by the Buddha. Have you ever wondered how they were formed? Which sutra is the earliest? Before the introduction of paper, what were the sutras written ...
Buddhist sutras are the Buddha's teachings as compiled by his disciples. More than 2500 years ago, the Buddha preached the Dharma mostly in the areas along the Ganges River. By answering people...
Some people believe: “since I am living a happy and comfortable life, why learn Buddhism”? Actually, for many people, this is exactly the obstacle to engaging in Buddhist practice. &...
Some people might ask, “What are the benefits of learning Buddhism, and why do I need to practice Buddhism?” Most people want to find out why something is good, in what way it is benefi...
“Buddhist scriptures seem so abstruse, with so many baffling terminologies; perhaps I am just not cut out for learning Buddhism”. Many people presume that they are not intelligent enoug...
Many people hesitate about learning Buddhism because they think that, after taking the three refuges, they also need to observe numerous precepts afterwards. However, the Buddha did not formulate t...
Buddhists often talk about “causes and conditions”, but what does this concept truly mean? One might find Buddhadharma to have struck a chord in one’s heart, yet still hesitate to...
"Buddhism only advocates doing good deeds" is the stereotype held by many people, so it is their belief that as long as they have kindness in their mind, make frequent donations to charit...
Some may aspire to learn Buddhism, but then hesitate to take the leap of faith due to their psychological obstacles. So, why do we need to learn Buddhism, and how does it make our lives different? ...
Q: What are upasakas and upasikas? Upasakas and upasikas refer to the male and female lay Buddhist devotees which, together, constitute the two groups of lay Buddhists. Upasaka is a Sanskrit tra...
As lay practitioners, how do we go about engaging in Buddhist practices? In modern society, we never seem to have enough time, so how do we better manage our time to engage in practice? Throu...
Speaking is prohibited throughout the entire course of meditation. In addition, Dharma instruments are used to signal the timetable, instructions and change of activities. When explaining the rules...
How do we arrange a meditation practice activity suitable for ourselves? The DDM Meditation Center has designed a series of meditation practice activities, ranging from a few hours to several days ...
Reasons Behind the Rules in the Meditation Hall: While attending a seven-day Chan retreat in the meditation hall, we are expected to lead a vastly different lifestyle. What regulations are to be f...
Regulating our Diet, Sleep, Body, Breath, and Mind Before starting our meditation practice, we first need to adjust and relax our body, to make sure our mind is sufficiently calm before adopting...
What are the rules to follow when practicing in the meditation hall? Should we keep silent all the time? Is it difficult to adapt to communal practice? Ven. Chang Cheng, experienced in guiding Chan...
Where is the Buddha? Buddhists often say that the Buddha is in our mind, and the Buddha is everywhere. If this is the case, then why should there be images or statues of the Buddha fo...
The Buddhist Mala is one of the most common tools for Buddhist practice. It is used for counting the times of Buddha’s name recitation or mantra chanting. According to Supplement to the Biogr...
“Burning incense” is considered an extraordinary and sacred offering made to the Buddha. Making this offering represents one of the rituals to show the reverence and devotion of the Bud...
A lit candle or lamp is one of the six common offerings people make to the Buddha, besides water, perfume, flowers, food, and burning incense. These six common material offerings symbolize the Six ...
Many Buddhists recite the Heart Sutra, the Great Compassion Dharani, and the 'Chapter on the Universal Gate of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva' in the Lotus Sutra, when they encounter difficulti...
How much power can a single word have? How can a few simple words move one's heart and give people unwavering courage? We often hear the word "motto". When we were young, our...
Those who are new to learning the Dharma are encouraged to attend group practice in temples, to ensure that they are practicing in the right direction, using the right methods. Learning with other ...
Understanding the contents of a Dharma service and its meaning helps practitioners concentrate on the practice when attending the assembly. Contemporary Dharma services focus on reciting sutras and...
To attend a Dharma assembly, we need to bring a Buddhist cassock, a tumbler, reusable foodware, and some personal belongings (wallet, train ticket, keys, clothes for warmth, etc.). Yet, remember th...
Does attending Dharma assemblies alone qualify as engaged practice? If we don't practice regularly before attending a Dharma assembly, we may find sutra chanting boring because we don't und...
The Dharma assembly refers to the various kinds of gathering events, which can include Dharma talks, offerings to the Buddha, offerings to monastics, and providing alms. The primary essence of the ...
The following sections describe the origins and main features of the ten most attended Dharma assemblies in Chinese Buddhism. Guanyin Dharma Assembly In devotion to Guanyin Bodhisattv...
As the Buddha's statue1 symbolizes the Buddha's presence in a Dharma assembly, we pay our respect to the Buddha by bowing to the statue or join our palms with the upper body bending when ...
by Venerable Guo Xing This is the first in a series of articles taken from Dharma talks given by Ven. Guo Xing at the Shurangama Sutra Retreat in August 2012. The talks focus on the first ...
To go on a pilgrimage is to visit, and pay homage to, sacred sites or holy relics of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. This practice method takes after ancient masters' journeys to seek Dharma or worshi...
Living in today's fast-paced society, we hurry to work or to meetings every day. We are always on the move to arrive somewhere. Though our legs are moving, we are not aware of it; we do not foc...
When using the method of walking meditation, we neither intentionally speed up nor slow down. Instead, we walk at the same speed as we normally would, while trying to be aware of the movements with...
Practitioners normally perform walking meditation between sitting sessions during a retreat, in limited-sized spaces. Alternating practicing sitting and walking meditation helps us harmonize the bo...
Fast walking meditation, also known as pao-xiang (跑香) in Chinese, is a practice method unique to the Chinese Chan tradition, which is not taught in other traditions such as Theravada, Tibetan and...
Circumambulation, originating in early Buddhism, was the ritual of circling around the Buddha to express respect. After Buddhism was introduced to China, Buddhists continued the tradition of circum...
Can walking be a method of Buddhist practice? When one thinks of Buddhist practice, what often comes to mind is either sitting meditation or reciting the Buddha's name. In fact, Buddhist practi...
It is better to conduct regular practices with fixed contents and duration. If we are too busy to set specific practice periods we can conduct our practice based on a fixed number of times, such as...
Living in modern society, we have been so busy paddling in the whirl and turmoil of busy daily life that over time we hardly notice our deeply ingrained self-centeredness. When we don't reach a...
To do regular practice is to set aside a fixed period each day to do the same practice, such as reciting a sutra, sitting in meditation, and prostrating to the Buddha. Regular practice help...
by Abbot Venerable Guo Xing From a talk given at the Chan Meditation Center on Februrary 13, 2011. Translated by Echo Bonner, transcribed by Lingyun Wang and edited by Buffe Maggie Laffey. ...
by Žarko Andričević Žarko Andričević is a martial arts and yoga teacher since the 1970s, Zarko first encountered Buddhism in 1975. Ten years later he started the first Buddhist study and m...
Chan and Modern LifeMore
Chan in Daily Life Motion Picture Series Chan represents the concepts and methods to calm and settle our body and mind. It is especially suitable for people living in today's hectic and st...
There are two lines from the Diamond Sutra on the wall at Nung Chan Monastery: "Abiding nowhere, give rise to mind." "Abiding nowhere" refers to the mind without...
Greedy people are usually unaware of their own greed. The same is true of people filled with anger, arrogance and pride. But sooner or later, practitioners will recognize that they...
Life is much the same as making and projecting a movie. Film moves at about ten images per second. When the movie is completed, it can be projected at the same speed that it was taken...