Chan and Modern Life
The Wealth of Chan MeditationFrom the book: The Effects of Chan Meditation
Modern science has solved many problems encountered in the natural environment, as well as those found in physiology and psychology. Yet despite the advancement of civilization and technological innovations, the number of problems to be solved has increased. Up until the day the Earth ends, it will be impossible to completely overcome the problems posed by nature. Similarly, until the day we die, it will be impossible to completely control the way our bodies function. We are incapable of preventing the gradual diminishing of the sun,s thermal energy, so the weakening and eventual destruction of the Earth is inevitable. Neither can human beings stop their own aging－－ the death of the physical body is inevitable.
But as long as the Earth remains our home, we should do what we can to improve the environment. And while we are still alive, we should do our best to maintain and improve physical and mental health, so that we can live happier and more comfortable lives. Science may help us with these tasks, but we should not leave it to science alone. The practice of Chan meditation is the most reliable method to realize intellectual and physical potential. Through can improve our lives immeasurably.
The methods used in Chan meditation originated in China and have their roots in India. However, the principle behind these methods, founded on developing one’s body and mind through concentration and insight, is universal. Thus, it can be said that all great religious figures, philosophers, statesmen, scientists, writers, and artists all over the world, from the past to the present, have, in their own way, experienced the benefit of Chan. Although such people may not practice Chan or assume seated meditation postures, their extraordinary ability to focus and develop insight is the basis of their achievements in their respective fields. These abilities are in accord with the effects of Chan meditation.
There are great differences in the methods and strategies that people use to improve themselves and deal with their everyday problems. Some paths take longer than others; some are circuitous. Chan holds that its methods of practice are the most direct and the best means of developing our full potential. In the course of practice, Chan training can make the sick healthy, the average brilliant, the weak-minded strong.
In Chan there is no fixed way to practice. The sick, the physically challenged, and the perpetually busy can follow the methods taught by Chan teachers and practice from a few minutes to several hours in any location, whether standing or sitting, in bed, in a wheelchair, in a car, at a bus or subway stop, or at the office. Chan provides the best means we have to improve ourselves, which will in turn improve society and the environment.
Chan practice is not limited to meditation. It is not simply about being calm and peaceful. The ultimate goal of Chan practice is to personally realize true freedom within our original nature and to know the depth of our connectedness with others. This is the wisdom and compassion of Chan.