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Our Mentor » The Teaching of the Venerable Master Xuan Hua » Investigating Chan, Reciting the Buddha's Name

Investigating Chan, Reciting the Buddha's Name2013-01-10


The word "investigate" in "investigating Chan" means to contemplate. Contemplate what? Prajna. This contemplation teaches you to have constant awareness of yourself, instead of others. Contemplate whether you are really present or not. 


People who investigate Chan must first recognize the basic problem clearly. What problem? Our bad habits and faults. Participating in Chan session is to rid ourselves of bad habits and faults.


In the Chan hall, everybody investigates Chan and meditates. This is a test to see who can pass and attain Buddhahood. How do you pass? Inside, there are no body and mind; outside, there is no world.


Many people who investigate Chan make two mistakes: one is having an unsettled state of mind, the other is drowsiness. These individuals are either having idle thoughts or falling asleep during their meditation.


To investigate Chan, one must have patience and perseverance. The secret to investigating Chan is patience. Even if you can't bear it anymore, you still must persevere. Once you have endured to the extreme, then everything will be interpenetrating and you will become enlightened.


When your investigation of Chan reaches maturity, not only will you have no false thinking, you'll also have less anger, your afflictions will decrease, your character will improve, and your capacity for tolerance will expand.


Why don't we have any response in the Way? It's because our wild minds do not rest.


To investigate Chan, one must have patience, for that is your means to enlightenment.


We have the opportunity to become enlightened when we investigate Chan. When our true nature appears, it's like when spring returns to the earth and the myriad things start to grow.


A person who truly investigates Chan is a person who truly recites the Buddha's name; a person who truly recites the Buddha's name is also a person who truly investigates Chan. A person who truly upholds the precepts is also a person who truly investigates Chan.


What is the "real me?" It is our inherent nature and the attainment of Buddhahood. Only when one attains Buddhahood, can one find the "real me." Before that, everything is false.


Whoever does not have any defiled attachments is a Buddha. Whoever has defiled attachments is a living being. What is a defiled attachment? To put it simply, it is whatever one cannot see beyond and let go of, and what causes one to constantly have idle thoughts.


When you apply exacting effort to your cultivation, food and clothing become secondary. How much the more in regard to other external objects; you should let go of them.


Cultivation is not limited to practicing Chan meditation and reciting Sutras. Instead, cultivation is done at all times and places. Do not have such a discriminating mind; do not contend for power; do not vie for leadership to supervise other people; do not show off before the Master.


The essential quality of the Way is concentration; that of a general is his strategic skill, not his courage; that of an army is its quality, not its size.


Sincerely reciting the Buddha's name is to constantly concentrate one's mind on the recitation without any false thinking or desire to eat and drink. Reciting to the point where everything is forgotten is true mindfulness of the Buddha.


When you are mindful of the Buddha, the Buddha will also be mindful of you. It is a bit like sending a telegram to Amitabha Buddha. This is known as the "intertwining of the response and the Way." If you are not mindful of the Buddha, he will not receive your message. Therefore, it is imperative that you uphold the Buddha's name.


In reciting mantras, one should so recite that the mantra flows out of one's mind and returns to one's mind. The mantra mind and the mind mantra-the mantra and the mind are united in sound after sound and are never apart from each other. One is reciting, yet not reciting; one is not reciting, yet constantly reciting.


When you venerate the Buddha, and the Buddha accepts your veneration, you will increase your blessings and wisdom. That is to say that bowing to the Buddha is an influence, and his receiving of the veneration is a response. That is the "intertwining of the Way."