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Models for Sitting
By C’han Master Cijao of ChangLu
1. Those who aspire to enlightenment and who would learn wisdom should first
arouse an attitude of great compassion and make an all-encompassing vow to
master concentration, promising to liberate other people, not seeking liberation
for your own self alone.
2. Then and only then should you let go of all objects and ought to rest all concerns, so that body and mind are one suchness, and there is no gap between movement and stillness.
3. Moderate your food and drink, taking neither to much nor too little. Regulate your sleep, neither restricting it too much nor indulging in it too much.
4. When you are going to sit in meditation, spread a thick sitting at in a quiet, uncluttered place. Wear your clothing loosely, but maintain uniform order in your posture and carriage.
5. Then sit in the lotus posture, first placing the right foot on the left thigh, then placing the left foot on the right thigh. The
half-lotus posture will also do; just put the left foot on the right leg, that is all.
6. Next, place the right hand on the left ankle, and place the left hand, palm up, on the palm of the right hand. Have the thumbs of both hands brace each other up.
7. Slowly raise the body forward, and also rock to the left and right, then sit straight. Do not lean to the left or right, do not tilt forward or backward. Align the joints of your hips, your spine, and the base of the skull so that they support each other, your form like a stupa. Yet you should not make your body too extremely erect, for that constricts the breathing and makes it uncomfortable. The ears should be aligned with the shoulders, the nose with the navel. The tongue rests on the
upper palate, the lips and teeth are touching.
8. The eyes should be slightly open, to avoid brining on oblivion and drowsiness. If you are going to attain meditation concentration, that power is supreme. In ancient times there were eminent monks specializing in concentration practice who always kept their eyes open when they sat. Chan Master Fayun Yuantong also scolded people for sitting in meditation with their eyes closed, calling it a ghost cave in a mountain of darkness. Evidently there is deep meaning in this, of which adepts are aware.
9. Once the physical posture is settled and the breath is tuned, then relax your lower abdomen. Do not think of anything good or bad. When a thought arises, notice it; when you become aware of it, it disappears. Eventually you forget mental objects and spontaneously become unified. This is the essential art of sitting Zen meditation.
10. In spite of the fact that sitting Zen meditation is a scientific way to peace and bliss, many people do it in a pathological manner that brings on sickness. This is because they do not apply their minds correctly. If you get the true sense, then your body will naturally feel light and easy, while your vital spirit will be clear and keen. True mindfulness is distinctly clear, the savor of truth sustains the spirit, and you experience pure bliss in a state of profound serenity.
11. For those who have already had an awakening, this can be said to be like a dragon finding water, like a tier in the mountains. For those who have not yet had an awakening, it is still using the wind to blow on the fire, the effort required is not much. Just make the mind receptive and you will not be cheated.
12. Nevertheless, when the Way is lofty, demons abound, all sorts of things offend and please. As long as you keep true mindfulness present, however, none of this can hold you back.
13. The Shurangama-sutra, the Tiantai manuals of "stopping and seeing," and Guifengs Guidelines for Cultivation and Realization fully explains bedevilments. Those whose preparation is insufficient should not fail to know these.
14. When you want to come out of concentration, slowly rock the body and rise calmly and carefully avoiding haste.
15. After coming out of concentration, at all times use whatever means expedient to preserve the power of concentration, as if you were taking care of a baby. Then the power of concentration will be easy to perfect.
16. Meditation concentration is a most urgent task. If you do not meditate calmly and reflect quietly, you will be utterly at loss in this domain. So if you are going to look for a pearl, it is best to still the waves; it will be hard to find if you stir the water. When the water of concentration is still clear, the pearl of mind reveals itself.
17. Therefore The Scipture of Complete Awakening says, "Unhindered pure wisdom all comes from meditation concentration." The Lotus Scripture says, "In an unoccupied space, practice collecting the mind, stabilizing it so that it is as immovable as the Polar Mountain." So we know that in order to transcend the ordinary and go beyond the holy, one
must make use of quiet meditation; to die sitting or pass away standing, one must depend on the power of concentration.
18. Even if you work on it all your life, you still may not succeed; how much more so if you waste time! What will you use to counteract karma? This is why the ancients said that if one lacks the power of concentration one willingly submits to death, living out one’s life in vain, unseeing, like a wandering vagrant.
19. I hope that companions in meditation will read this tract over and over, to help themselves and help others alike to attain true awakening.
Translated by Thomas Cleary