Would it help us to cultivate 定力 (samadhi power) if we clear our boundaries before we sit? Will it help the false thinking to go away?
Yes it does help to create boundaries for an area where you meditate. That, for example, is why people go to a Chan hall, because boundaries are already established.
I won’t go into the process of creating the boundaries and purifying a meditation space (anticipating your next follow up question) because it’s too involved. If you have Buddha or Bodhisattva images at home, sitting next to them will suffice.
The Chinese article is inaccurate. If you are afflicted with false thinking (your monkey mind can’t seem to stop), reciting the Great Compassion mantra does not always help. I know because I have tried it more than once.
Your false or scattered thinking results from your conscious mind grasping at internal things or external things. For example, if external sounds (like your neighbor’s television or stereo) annoy you, reciting the Da Bei Zhou (Great Compassion Mantra) is not going to help. In particular, if you are harassed by external ghosts or demons (like those the Chinese article refers to), reciting mantras may provide no relief at all.
You must understand, however, that it’s not because the mantra does not work; it’s because your recitation power is not adequate. For example, a baseball can certainly break window glass, but only when it’s thrown with sufficient force!
In general, when you sit and try to practice Chan, but your mind is spinning:
- Try to stop indulging in false thinking – at least know that it’s the wrong time for it.
- As soon as you are aware that your mind is drifting, stop and concentrate on your Chan technique.
- Do not get discouraged. It’s an uphill battle – keep trying!
- The savvy Chan practitioner has various remedies and techniques. Your Chan Master can teach you these over time.
- Regardless of whether or not you have various remedies (step 4), if you sit long enough, false thinking will diminish and disappear.
- Unfortunately, most people quit because they get afflicted and discouraged. If this happens consistently, seek a good knowing advisor. You need a teacher’s help.