Friday, September 16, 2011


Someone asked me what exactly is "heart", which I use so often.  Is it sentimentality, emotions, organ? 

Heart literally means essence or center in Chinese.  In other words, our "heart" is the collective essence of every cell and organ in us.  It is their collective well being.  Their purpose of existence.  How they feel relative to their existence and their purpose of existence.  Heart is the mirror of their existence. 

Like love and happiness, heart can not be faked or forced.  It is always honest, without pretense, naked and natural.

Similarly, heart is the mirror of our existence.  When our heart is pure, we can then feel and sense true conditions of our existence -  which is pure compassion and joy.

So if we carry on further...

Heart is the spirit of us and that of the universe. 
Heart is the essence of our spirit.
Heart is the focus of our totality.
Heart is love.
Heart is happiness.
Heart is God within us.
Heart is the purpose of our living, while mind is the tool for living.

Mahayana II - beyond 7th & 8th consciousness

Dear All,

After discussing with several different groups, I have the following synopsis to share with everyone.

  • To truly be able to free others, we must free ourselves from our mind first.
  • If we are trying to label the kind of notion arising internally while focusing on others, then we are still practicing with our mind.
  • If we have any notion at all while focusing on others, then our heart is still not pure enough.  Thus our compassion may still be somewhat self-serving.
  • The practice of Mahayana is to focus completely on the suffering of others.  Fulfill every encounter without question.  However the wisdom from our heart dictates us.
  • Upon each encounter, each mental hindrance from others blocking the connection of our heart is an excellent time for us to be completely detached from all dharma, and let our heart shine through.  And allow our actions and words to be executed with wisdom, thus dissolving insecurity or fear.
  • Mahayana practice is most beneficial when we are able to completely abandon every thread of dharma in our mind and recognize the fact that every moment contains its own dharma.
  • When our mind reaches "no mind", we recognize all the cause and effect of all phenomena as a continuing and inter-related event.
  • The Mahayana practice is a practice for the enhancement of heart over mind reaching pure compassion and loving kindness.  Buddha heart is the heart of all sentient beings.
  • The Mahayana practice is a practice enable us to surpass our seventh and eighth consciousness, (mind and subconsciousness) and reach the ninth consciousness, which is pure light, pure heart and pure spirit.
Thank you all for all of your input and your attention.

Supreme Vehicle

Good morning Sensei,

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.  I am just a practitioner of Chan and not a master.  A master in our school means someone who is enlightened and has received "Buddha Heart Imprint", while I have neither.  Since Zen does recognize the Mahayana practice, then please let me share some of the discussions we had recently in our school....

As we know, Hinayana is often called the Small Vehicle and Mahayana is the Great Vehicle.  And in China, the Chan is called the Supreme Vehicle.  It means that Chan could free everyone.

It is true, when others are enlightened, we are enlightened.  The danger of this realization is the rationalization that we only need to work on ourselves.  If so, then we are only practicing Hinayana.  We did not "do" the circular track of Chan.

The Mahayana practice is a practice, only when we leave our lotus and step into the mud, could we than detach ourselves from the limitation of our practice and our dharma.  In other words, as we focus on the difficulty in freeing others, could we then realize how limited we are in wisdom and energy in resolving their karmic hindrance. Only then we could be motivated to continuously surpassing our habitual practice, form and formless. In turn to realize that "Dharma is not dharma. No dharma is dharma." 

Then we would know dharma is in every encounter.  It is up to us to be one with it.  Only then we are liberated from the rationalization of our mind and awaken to the fact that the One of Chan is the ALL.  This realization occurs when we journey midway into the freeing of each one, as a Supreme Vehicle.

Too often we quit by rationalizing to ourselves that this practice is not for everyone.  Or the time is not right, or whatever excuses we place upon our practice.  If so, we have trapped ourselves into believing that our current practice is the only path.  The practice of Supreme Vehicle is every practice in each moment, in each encounter, without self, without other, without dharma, without form, without notion, etc.

To free all beings is not to impose "our" practice upon them, but rather let them awaken from within.  The only way we could accomplish that is to speak in their language in their mindset and help them to resolve whatever there needs to be resolve in resources, mindset or life force.  In other words, we needed to be them and undertake their karma. Thus the mud is the lotus and lotus is the mud and they both grow in tandem.

To phrase it in beautiful labels, Mahayana is the journey for Bodhisattva, Supreme Vehicle is the journey for Buddha, who is the one and all and us and everyone.

Thank you all for your attention,
Head Teacher
Order Of Chan

On 9/1/2011 9:49 PM, Harvey Daiho Hilbert wrote: 
With palms together,
Good Evening Everyone,
On the Zen Living list, Ch'an Master Jue Miao Jing Ming , asked me a question the other day. "Dear Sensei, Do you consider Zen a Mahayana practice?  If so, what does Mahayana actually do?"
While Zen is within the Mahayana tradition, it is not a Mahayana practice as I understand it.  Student Rev. Shoji and I were discussing this question today and Rev. Shoji brought up an interesting distinction.  He argued that Mahayana Buddhists aim at the Bodhisattva ideal to free all beings before they, themselves, enter nirvana.  He points out that from a Zen point of view, self and other are one, therefore there is no one, but oneself, to free.
Zen Master Seung Sahn argues in his Compass, that  both Theravadan and Mahayane traditions have "roads,"  but that Zen has not only no road, but no map, as well.  The practice is practice realization as one.  Path and destination are not two.
These beg the question, however, "What does Mahayana actually do?"
Mahayana does nothing.  Mahayana is just a word.  And we can see from the question that such things as words and concepts can create a hindrance.  We could ask a better question, "What is Mahayana practice and what does it do?" The aim of the practice is to free beings, but how?
Again, Master Sahn offers the Six Paramitas as "practice guides."  They are rather like the manifest value in the nexus between idea and behavior, rather like the term "Quality" as used in Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."  A Mahayana practitioner practices to make manifest the six aspects of our true nature in the hope that to do so will free suffering beings. 
A Zen practitioner, however realizes practice and life are one, that everything is already free, perfect as it is, but that we  jail ourselves with our thoughts.  A Zen practitioner notices and ceases all grasping: no attachment to ideas, desires, things, feelings, etc.   
A Zen practitioner is free and easy in the everyday world.  His mind is free and his heart limitless.  He recognizes all beings are likewise like this.
Be well.
Rev. Daiho Hilbert, abbot

An example of Absolute Emptiness

In chapter V of Vimalakirti sutra,  he talked about absolute emptiness.  I shall translate from Chinese for your reference, the English I use more than likely will not match your search result online.....

Why do we often feeling "tired" or "disgusted" on our journey of ferrying others with kindness and good intentions?  If you do, please read on...

It is so because our compassion in our hearts derives from form and not arise from within. In other words, we feeling tired is because our compassion is from our mind and not from our heart.

A consciousness-based compassion is based on form, logic, give and take, balance, purpose and objective. This kind of compassion has a purpose and result oriented, otherwise it can not balance itself.

The compassion rises from our hearts are pure giving.  Our heart syncs with the hearts of others, and "knowing" that we are all deluded by our mind and not "seeing" that everything is just endless illusions of cause and effect.  Our hearts are one of the same.

Upon this "synchronization" of hearts, our mind would quiet. We would be able to function with joy and dedication, continuously, effortlessly, naturally and instinctively, with our pure heart.

Thank you for your time,

Formless Practice II

Good morning to all,

Please let me share with you the essence of formless practice.

Majority of the Buddhist practice teaches "dependent origination and emptiness".  Yet it is only first half of the pratice.  The second half is the "absolute emptiness and profound existence" (This teaching began with Vimalakirti Sutra - A major Mahayana Prajna Sutra)

If we practice by following "dependent origination and emptiness", we are practicing to accept the nature of emptiness in all phenomena and cause and effect.  This is the practice dealing with all forms and our rational mind.  In our school, this is just the practice of "detachment from forms".

"Absolute emptiness" means even the concept and awareness of emptiness needs to be empty, meaning complete elimination of our consciousness.  Only when we are absolutely "no mind", then our heart will rise and be in sync with the the "profound existence of the universe", in other words the truth and essence of the universe.  Only then, we no longer need to rationalize, to control, to management, we are able to live naturally in sync with every moment, in flow with every cause and effect.  There will be no rising of any notion from our consciousness, unaffected by all the phenomena and forms surround us.  Every moment is natural, automatic and as is. We are one with the universe.

This is the essence of the formless practice.  In other words, the second half of the practice is the "sync with the heart of Buddha".

Re: Comfort

Hello Bill,

These are important questions addressing the foundations of Chan.  Thank you for asking.

Your definition of zen is very close to Chan.  My teacher said, "Buddhism is a label applied to Shakyamuni's teaching, after he witness the truth of the universe.
Jesus also began to teach after he witness the same truth. For centuries before Buddhism, Chinese always practice unification of 'man and universe'. This truth is labeled as Chan."  (3/31/1993)

Most scholars in China recognize and practice 'Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon', the bible for  Chinese civilization.  Qigong, acupuncture, fengshui, ying and yang all derived from this.  The fundamental principle it preaches is oneness.  It is 5,000 year old.

So after you and I witness the same truth, we can establish Billism and Donaldism.  :-)

Come to think of it perhaps, the English word I use in place of illusion is delusion.  Delusion is the projection of our conscious mind.  Delusion is the dream we live in and out each moment.  Delusion is the cover of our innate spirit.  Delusion is what we need to wake up from.  Delusion is not "not-knowing", but an assumption of "already-know".  When the "I know already" occurs, then the heart is covered up.  Heart stops to feel, to connect, to act. 

My Teachers does not even use delusion, he called it "the conscious mind" vs. "the original heart."  (for Anthony, 意識心 vs 本心)

In short, delusion is produced by the seven consciousness.  The eighth is somewhat beyond our control, yet it adds gasoline to the fire.   :-(

Because Chan is just a way to witness the universal truth.  Chan itself has no word and no formula.  Chan borrows what is convenient at the moment to awake the delusional mind.  Bible, Koran or any sutra are all words we can borrow for that purpose.  Words are really for soothing the delusion so that it will not block our entry into the inner spirit. 

Yet, without a powerful practice, our delusional mind are very very difficult to be shredded into pieces.  Yes, it is our ego, as some would call it.

However, the practice of Chan is an energy game. Ever since the big bang, the universe is manifested by this life force through cause and effect.  Edgar call it, ontology, I believe.  We are all energy beings.  Without this energy, or Qi, we all die.  Qi is the underlying support of all manifestation.

Chan is a simple and basic.  The practice of Chan enables us to "see" the wisdom in everything.  I mean everything.  To be more exact, the root of everything, or the cause of everything, or the truth of everything.

To me, Chan is the absolute practice, because once you get it.  You'll realize Chan is one and all.  There will be no more judgment, heartache, worries, up and downs.  Everything will be so clear.  I mean everything.  On the other hand, if Chan can not be applied to everything, it is not the absolute answer, or we did not really get it, or we are still living in our own delusional mind, or simply thinking.

Just realized that it was a bit long.  I am sorry.   I hope it answers some of your questions.  These are good fundamental questions.

Thank you for granting me the opportunity to share.

On 8/18/2011 12:22 AM, Bill! wrote:

Thanks for your answer.

I know that the concept of 'maya' is a fundamental teaching of Buddhism. I always had assumed that Chan was 'Chan Buddhism' and had/claimed a Buddhist foundation. I guess I was wrong.

Does Chan only recognize the Heart and Dimond Sutras, and none of the others? Why does Chan use a lot of Buddhist language

What would you call the concept of 'self'? I would call it an illusion - maya. I think the Japanese work is pronounced 'mak-ee-oh' and maybe transliterated as 'makyo'.


Form vs Formless Practice

Dear All,

Diamond Sutra continues to remind us that everything is as is, no matter how we label, analyze, describe, tear it apart, or look under a microscope.  It was trying to tell us that....

This is the practice in form. This practice is connected with our five senses and consciousness, or the seven consciousness.  No matter how we practice in form, we will never surpass the influence of the eighth consciousness, which is our subconsciousness, or what we called karma in Buddhism.

Many of us may recall, the intuitive notions arising from within, usually are wrestled with our logical mind, self doubt, insecurity, emotions, past experiences, etc. etc.  When we are under the gun, we usually resort our decision to our habitual ones.  More often than not we regret that we are victimized by ourselves again.

Often these notion wrestling occurs within a short instance, and usually in that split second, our lives are changed forever.  This is the power of karmic influence.  In other words, relying on all seven consciousness is fine as long as we have no life changing decision to make.

The important practice is the practice in the formless, or the practice of "no mind", no knowledge, no experience, no all seven consciousness, or no form.  Or you may call this practice the practice of pure spirit, pure heart, pure energy.  Only through this formless practice can we eliminate the karma in our eighth consciousness. 

Then you may ask, "how do we function with no mind after we get up from the cushion."  Yes, critically important question. The anwser lies in "the synchronization with the wisdom of the universe at that moment".

Everything is manifested by the universe, all we have to do is to "ask" it.  It will tell us.  But then how to "ask"?  Develop enough Qi then synchronize our Qi with that of the universe. Is there another way?

For many years, I have stressed the importance of a "right practice".  Only through the right cultivation of our internal Qi, can we surpass our physical hindrance, than our mental hindrance, then our inner spirit can shine through. 

Chan practice is a complete practice integrating our body, mind and spirit.  And only through our heart can we integrate all three.  After all, two out of the three, our spirit and our physical connection, are in our heart.  How do you feel love or joy or energy?

Otherwise, we just continue to live within our mind without awakening.  In other words, as soon as we started to think, we fall back into our own dream constructed by ourselves.

There are not much time left.

True practice

Good morning Sensei,

Thank you for pointing out the discomfort issue.  In our school, we have the following saying, "Why is Buddhaland called the other shore?  Because it is beyond our comfort zone."

Discipline is the first of the three practices.  Meditation is the second.  Yet I found out that most of the meditation techniques are in complete or ineffective.  Let me explain.

I like to call the first stage of meditation, the "detoxification" phase.  It is the phase we detox our addiction to comfort.  This is the phase we suffer through "cold turkey".  Without cleans ourselves from all our habits, we just continue to live our lives as before.  This is the "bio-physical" phase.  With the right technique, usually within three years, we can surpass this phase.

The second stage is the "jhana" phase.  This is to conquer our mind, knowledge, experience, logic, rational or in short completely crush our ego and detachment from all forms.  Sitting until we are into jhana is the only way.  Usually it takes 30 - 45 minutes.  Otherwise, we are where we were - practice with our mind and not our spirit.

The third stage is the "karma elimination stage", where we cleans our karma stored in our subconsciousness. This is the "deep jhana" phase.  It can take up to 45- 60 minues to enter. 

Then we reach the spiritual wisdom phase, the Buddha nature phase.

If we do meditate with the proper technique, everything, whether it be drug addiction, health spa, spiritual awakening can be affected.  If we do not meditate with the proper technique, no matter what we consider our Zendo is, or however dedicated our discipline is, our practices or teaching does not matter much. 

On the other hand, if the meditation technique is effective, then whatever we consider our zendo is, does not matter much either, because it will do everything that is needed to help anyone to surpass anything.

The key difference is the power to transform.  It is the power of the universe.  And it is not the mental power or will power or knowledge of our practice, but the actual practice itself, needing to be all inclusive, or in other words, energized.

What I have written here is not my opinion from my mind, or something from our teaching, but my witness.

Yes Chan practice has the ability to complete overhaul our lives, that is if we meditate under an enlightened master.  Otherwise, we are just following the forms of the practice and not the practice itself.

By October, we'll have a book out, "Introduction to Sitting Chan".  It details the path to enlightenment and ways to cross the Three EONS, while our previous book is about the basic technique.  This is full colored about 300 pages thick.  If anyone is interested, please let me know, because it needs to be ordered from Taiwan.

Bon voyage,
Head Teacher
Order of Chan

On 8/15/2011 5:33 AM, Harvey Daiho Hilbert wrote:     
With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,
Recently I read an article written by Charlotte Joko Beck, a pioneer in the American Zen movement. A copy may be found on Rev. Dosho Port's blog at Wild Fox Zen. This article was about the function of a Zen Center.  In it she argues that the primary function of a Center is to offer a place for the simple and straightforward practice of Zen. Her clarity in this article is wonderful, but can be hard for us to swallow today.  I will add my voice to hers: Zen Centers are not spas, nor are they rehab centers, mental health facilities, or self-improvement organizations.  Zen Centers are practice centers and the practice is Zazen.
My impression from the ads in the slick Buddhist magazines of late is that American Zen is moving toward disregarding this basic point of Zen  to one popularizing the practice and wooing clientele. Our practice is sometimes understood as a way to feel better, improve oneself, or get healthier.  Centers (including ours) offer a variety of workshops, teachings, and practices which, in and of themselves, are wonderful, but when offered with the aim of self-improvement take us away from the actual aim of seated practice which is the discovery and manifestation of our true nature.
We accommodate sometimes too much: From chairs to no incense; from fans to air conditioning; from shorter chants to little or no ritual at all.  Formality and etiquette are not only not revered, but actively fought against as 'old fashioned.'  The how of practice is argued against by the why of practice.  We often set aside ritual in service to what will make us "comfortable." (Please bear in mind, there is a profound difference between comfort and necessity. I have no qualms about offering a chair to someone who cannot sit on a cushion, but cannot due to discomfort is not cannot due to disability or physical impairment.)
Ritual provides the cup for the wine of our practice.  More deeply, though, and in a very real sense it is both wine and cup.  It can be understood as practice-realization, just as Dogen understood Zazen. If we are uncomfortable, it is important to face that discomfort not step away from it.     
Here are a set of truths: Spiritual practice is a discipline.     Every discipline is uncomfortable.  Comfort is awakening's enemy. 
The Order of Clear Mind Zen is fairly simple with straightforward practices.  Few frills.  We offer Sangha membership, Zazen, and study groups.   You may use a chair after it is determined that you cannot sit on a cushion or use a bench.  If you cannot sit still we will invite you to practice harder.  Our building is air conditioned and we do not have access to the thermostat.  We have a small fan and use it when the Zendo is full.  All of this, though, is window dressing.  When you come to a Zen Center you are coming to practice Zazen.  It is a practice that can be challenging.  This is where the commitment to a disciplined practice comes in.  The Buddha referred to this as the development of kashanti, (patience or forbearance) a word we rarely use today (I wonder why?!)
The thing is that without kashanti we become weak. Dependent on ease, we never really face ourselves.   
Be well.
Rev. Daiho Hilbert, abbot


『修行』這個名詞,其中的一半是『修』,就是『修』禪。『修』就是要認真付諸行動的『做』。『動禪』與『坐禪』,都是要『做』 的。只是了解,不『做』,就不是修行了。而且要親身來,靠不了別人。
歷史上記載,禪本就是『不立文字,以心傳心』的。沒有一本聖經,信仰或教條。但是一定要有一位證道的宗師,才 會有『心』可傳。
  •  不用『上帝』或『神』這個名稱, 禪不『拜』。
  •  禪不但沒有一定要遵從的教條,還教導說不能有法執
  •  為了方便,禪借用其他宗教的名稱,來喚醒無明的眾生。
  •  禪要求的只是,努力精進,超越一切習性。
  •  證道的禪師提供一些準則,也都是為了讓修行者,能夠走上最快捷證道路。
  •  強健色身,讓我們的靈性不受色身的干擾。
  •  提升靈性層次超越意識,知識,經驗,思想,情感與內心的束縛
  •  漸漸地,靈性顯現清淨,明亮,照亮周遭的一 切。
  •  當靈性成為主宰之後,靈性會注意與照顧到我們的色身,增進思緒的清晰度,解脫無常與業力的掌控
  •  我執,法執,著相,無常,
  •  平等,和諧,同體,慈悲,智慧
  • 輪迴,天堂,地獄,靈魂,生與死。
  • 上帝,佛,阿拉。生命證道的真實義。
  • 最後就會體悟到,我們都只是能量與智慧的渠道而已,原來源頭一直都是師父接來的證量。
所以禪修不是強硬地要求人 們來相信或崇拜經書的記載,而是要親身體悟。當修行人具有了這些體悟之後,慈悲與智慧自然升起,會自願幫助其他的眾生,使世界更加美滿,和諧。
所以師父說,『禪是超越一切宗教的』。修行就是要走這些聖者所走過的路,做他們所做的事,成就他們的成就,甚 至於超越他們,青出於藍,而非只是成為他們信徒,唯命是從,盲目追隨而已。師父鼓勵我們『成佛』,是要成就與佛陀一樣的成就,所以   師父不接受我們的跪拜。