The Fundamentals of Meditation Practice by Ting Chen

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The Fundamentals of Meditation Practice

by Ting Chen

Translated by Dharma Master Lok To

Edited by Sam Landberg and Dr. Frank G. French

Online at: http://www.ymba.org/freebooks_main.html




Translator's Introduction

The Foundation of Meditation Practice

The Levels of Buddhist Discipline

Preparing For Meditation

Regulating The Mind

Counting The Breath

Varieties of Ch'an




We respectfully acknowledge the assistance, support and cooperation of the following advisors, without whom this book could not have been produced: Dayi Shi; Chuanbai Shi; Dr. John Chen; Amado Li; Cherry Li; Hoi-Sang Yu; Tsai Ping Chiang; Vera Man; Way Zen; Jack Lin; Tony Aromando; and Ling Wang. They are all to be thanked for editing and clarifying the text, sharpening the translation and preparing the manuscript for publication. Their devotion to and concentration on the completion of this project, on a voluntary basis, are highly appreciated.

Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada, 1999


Translator's Introduction

Originally, one's own mind and nature are pure, and there is nothing to accept and nothing to refuse; there is neither existence nor non-existence; there is only clear understanding without attachment and with no dwelling. One who wants to know the no-attachment, no-dwelling mind can find it through meditation, because it is only then that the mind does not think of right and wrong, of good and evil or of self and others.


If this seems obscure, then consider the following: The past is already gone; when you do not think of it, the thought of the past is gone, too. Then, there is no past nor any thought of the past. Furthermore, the future has yet not arrived. If you do not wish for nor seek after it, the thought regarding the future vanishes. Then, there is no future nor any thought about the future. Finally, the present is already present. Without grasping at it or dwelling upon it and without there being any thought about it, the thought of the present disappears, and there is no present nor any thought of the present. The mind that does not dwell on anything whatsoever is known as the True Mind or Original Nature.


The non-dwelling mind is the mind of the Buddha, it is the mind of liberation, it is the mind of Bodhi, and it is the mind of non-birth. So, if you really want meditation to come about, sit properly erect and close your eyes. Then purify your mind, lay down everything and think of neither good nor evil. Just observe your thoughts. As you look for their place of origin, you discover that they suddenly rise up and just as suddenly disappear, and that this process goes on and on. Be patient and continue to observe them, and you will, in time, know the thoughts to be devoid of any self-nature; also you will, thereby, know original emptiness. Do not attempt to follow the thoughts, to trace them in any way or have any intention of getting rid of them, and, in time, awareness will manifest as your mind illumines a thought. Then, there will suddenly be a stillness that becomes suchness. At some point, another thought will arise, and you will observe it in the same way.


Do this at least once a day, sitting from fifteen minutes to an hour. As your concentration deepens, your thoughts slow down and diminish in number, and your power of illumination increases until you eventually find out that not a single thought arises. Then, there is only stillness and voidness, for then the mind is clear and pure. This is your self-nature as known directly through wisdom (Prajna).


The subject of wisdom is Prajna, and the opposite of Prajna is ignorance. Prajna illuminates the delusion that is ignorance. With continued exposure to Prajna, ignorance wears away bit by bit until there is a return to self-nature, or pure mind. It is in this situation that Right Thought manifests. There is no longer the duality of subject/object. This state is also known as no-thought or suchness and is also referred to as the inconceivable. When the mind is illumined and a thought, as one ordinarily knows it to be, arises, it dissolves instantly. Continue to practice in this way on a daily basis, and you will notice your self-nature getting steadily clearer and purer. Then there will be no longer any need to observe, nor will there be any purpose to observe. Indeed, there will be no longer any need of any kind. It will be realized that mind is no-mind, that no-mind is pure mind and that pure mind is the true mind. At that time, the sound of discussion and the role of thought will be finished. It cannot be expressed in words, and yet it is as simple as drinking water and knowing whether it is cold or warm. It is called Sudden Enlightenment.


It is my express wish that this guide, based on the meditation manual of Ting Chen, will prove helpful in imparting the Dharma to its readers. In helping me reach this goal, I wish to thank Sam Langberg and Dr. Frank G. French, without whose help regarding fine points in the translation and without whose editorial acuteness this task might have proved too difficult. May this work, then, help everyone to generate the Bodhi Mind and never to regress.


Dharma Master Lok To

Young Men's Buddhist Association of America

Bronx, New York

May 1999

(Buddhist Year: 2543)

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