Advanced Chan Tea Class - Settle down and be mindful in the present
It is the second day of the advanced Chan Tea Class. It starts with the practice of walking meditation. Since we have learned this in entry level class, instructor Miaoli briefly reviewed the key points：stay focused, be mindful, be aware of each movement of walking (left up, move forward, and put down your feet), and concentrate on your steps…
Guided by the instructor, the walking meditation around sacred halls began. Following the instruction, I tried to be relaxed and focus on each movement. Gradually, I got into the groove.
I remembered that after the entry level class, I tried to practice the walking meditation by myself. At that moment, countless idle thoughts occupied my mind and I could not stay focused. In the contrast, my mind is so peaceful and my eyes never leave the white clothes of the people in front of me in today’s practice.
The refreshing air of early morning, the clear and brisk sound of singing birds, the poetic wing-like eaves, the winding path of an enchanting view, and the solemn and majestic monastery, all those wonderful things always immersed me in the world of happiness previously. However, I was not influenced by them until we finished working meditation.
After the practice, everyone lined up and moved towards the dining hall. Students of summer camp joined us and we merged into two lines. At this moment, I still focused on my steps: lift up, put down, lift up, put down… I did not even notice Master Miaozhi who passed right in front of me. When I realized that, I repented silently. Followed other people, I sit down.
Before the food came, I closed my eyes and kept my mind quiet. Right at this moment, for the first time, I suddenly experienced what Ven. Master Renda have taught us: When you eat, focus on just eating. Do it slowly, without hurry. Concentrate on the bowl in your hand. The bowl is the only thing you see. Take the food, put it in your mouth, chew and swallow.
For the first time, the inverted bell ringed right at the moment I put down the bowls and chopsticks and placed them in order. Today, everything was peaceful. They seemed blurred and clear at the same time. I felt myself close to and far away from them. Followed the crowd, I went back to the dorm room, without talking to anyone and keeping my mind quiet. My eyes did not look more than one meter away from me.
I have read the Great Master Bodhidharma’s essential discourse on Entering the Mahayana Path by Principle and by Practice, which teaches us the method of practice Chan meditation: To fix the mind in “wall meditation” — Relinquish all attachments, meditate and reach the stage with no breath in or out, shield your mind just like a wall to keep it pure and undisturbed, and then you are prepared for enlightenment. To settle our mind, we need to shield it from all interferences just like a wall. Previously, I was very puzzled by what kind of experience it is. Did I experience it today? When you settle down the mind in present, anything other than that becomes interference. They will not disappear. But we could make them irrelevant. If we do not pay attention to them, they could not disturb our mind.
Through the practice today, I experienced what feels like when one fixes the mind in “wall meditation” and relinquish all attachments. Whatever happens around us, let it be and make it irrelevant. This is also what our beloved Venerable Master Renda taught us: settle down and be mindful in the present, cultivate ourselves at every moment.
摄影：吉琳 周红霞 邱亚东
Photography: Jilin; Zhou, Hongxia; Qiu, Yadong.