Shih-tou Hsi-chien (700-790) was a very well known Chinese Ch'an master. As a young monk, he was one of the disciples of the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng. After Hui-neng passed away, Shih-tou continued his pilgrimage...
He paid a vist...
WHAT IS CALLED MEDITATION?
In short, meditation is a process of emptying one's mind.
Supposedly, everyone already knows what and where his mind is.
However, most of us accept the capacity of thinking is our whole mind. Actually, it is just a part of it and not the whole mind. Others might think of the brain, the consciousness, the unconsciousness, and the memory. Others might think of it as the total of all of the above. And each and every of us think with them, act with them, and live with them and we are partial. Hence, we come to each other partially and not wholly. And this is the origin of our divisions, conflicts, contradictions, fighting, and wars in human life for thousands or millions of years now.
With our own experiences, inward or outward, accumulated we have got and formed our knowledge and store in our memory then we keep thinking, acting, reacting, living from our remembrance. Therefore, it might be said that we all have been living with the past, the old, the yesterday, even we may think we are living with our future, our creation. Actually we are not. Why? Because we have used the past, the old, the known to look at, to evaluate, to compare, to think of the new or the unknown, hence, whatever we think it should be certainly new or creative, actually it's not so. It's as old as our memory! Thought is never new. Why? Because thought comes from memory which are the images, impressions, ideas, and experiences which are the old, the past.
If there is no remembrance, we cannot think at all. This state of mind might be called "blank" or "hollow" or "dead" or "no-record" or "void" and "temporary". One might first get at before he can go further into the state of mind which is called the "empty mind" which is clear and pure, new and fresh, vivid and active, always awakening and lucid, entirely different from the "blank" or "hollow" mind that is stagnant, inactive, someone might mistake it for the empty mind. With this state of mind one cannot contact directly with things and others.
If one wants to live in harmony with things and others, his mind and senses must be fresh and lucid to perceive things and others as they are. That is, if a man or woman who would like to have a real love to his or her espouse and children, then his or her mind and senses must be fresh and lucid to see them as they are right now and not their images in the past or their projection in the future. This is called the empty mind which embraces everything with love. And this also called the 'greatness or immeasurableness of the mind'. And anyone who only experiences the blank or hollow state of mind is in ignorance, dullness, indifference and he needs to get out of this state of mind.
Therefore, meditation is not to seek what is called the Buddha nature or the concept of 'emptiness' which is often thought as an ideal to find out when one is in trying to seek it in sitting with breath counting or breath following or just sitting or working on a koan. If anyone who tries to do so, this means he is caught in the network of thought and he will never get at where he wants.
Furthermore, as he is told that his Buddha nature is in himself, so why does he need to find it? Why does he have to see it meanwhile it is himself or at least it is in himself as he has been told? All of his activities for this purpose are the activities of thought and he uses thought to read and think and explain what the original authors directly spoke from their original mind or empty mind. There is a big difference here, but he might not realize it. Even he tries to read and think and explain others' words but in a different state of mind and this is the main reason he is in a wrong way. This is why it might be said that what the Buddha spoke from his awakening mind was true but when one whose mind is not awakened yet repeats the words, he does a wrong thing.
Therefore, what he really needs to do is to look into himself and realize what is not the essence of mind and get over it. In other words, When one understands what is wrong, the right is there. When one realizes what disorder is, the order is there. When one knows what darkness is, the light is there. When one realizes what delusion is, the enlightenment is there. This means he needs to empty his own mind from all of the known, psychologically and not technologically. When the mind is freed from all of this kind of the known, it is ready. It is called the empty mind which is immense, fresh, new, and lucid, it perceives things as they are and embraces everything with love without confusions, divisions and conflicts.
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