HUÀ TÓU (話頭) demystified
MAY 19, 2018 | 參話頭 /Cān Huà Tóu/ - Part 1 (in progress)
Good morning everyone. Thank you for coming. Today is special. Look at this beautiful thing that they have ready for tomorrow's Vesak. What a beautiful vase. What is this?
Sound is low? It should be on. People complain all the time, the TV station complains I speak too softly. How about now, is that ok? Louder? Still you need louder? How about now? This is how master Xianqie does audio chat con "Hello, One, Two, Three, Four, Five". Turn off the lights? It's nothing that important, don't worry. It's no big deal.
I've been teaching meditation, Chan meditation, for maybe about over ten years now. And my master, where I came from, my late teacher, venerable Hsuan Hua, in the Chan class, you sit for an hour and there is a 20-minute talk. That's how I was trained. But I decided to go to talk for an hour, because I realized talking is the more important part of meditation. I realized that I didn't have the guidance that I was, when I was practicing meditation, so I struggled a lot. And I sat there for years and wondering about whether I am doing something right or not. You know, it comes back and haunted me for several years. Am I doing this right? And I asked, when I had problems I asked my elder Dharma brothers, his disciples, they couldn't answer me. And later on, somehow, I looked out and I never gave up. And I resolved my own questions one after another. And I realized that if I had someone to tell me since day one, I wouldn't have to waste so many years practicing, or exploring, experimenting. So I discovered things from experimentation. And so therefore I realized if I showed you why I understand, you can progress a lot quicker. In particular, what we are teaching you is what is called truthfully the Wei Yang markless chan. Ok, and it will be a long time before you will understand what it means, but that's truly what it is. It's Wu Xiang.
All right, so I did some calculations. Typically, the last let's say I have been teaching for 10 years, we basically every weekend we talk for an hour. And then there's a Chan qi out 7 to 10 weeks’ worth, so we're talking about 20 years’ worth of instructions in chan. And yet today I decided that in honor of Vesak, the Buddha's birthday, I start talking about Hua Tou. Hua Tou is truly a Mahayana Dharma, a Mahayana method. In other words, the Hinayana Buddhism does not have Hua tou. They don't dare touch Hua tou. Why not? It's because it is a way of practice for low level, all the way to the highest level, well not quite the highest. And what do we call highest level is enlightenment. All right, so the methodology can handle a low level to a very high level. In Buddhism we stress meditation because that is the quickest way to attain enlightenment. There's nothing better, nothing quicker, more methodical, more sound, more important than Chan meditation. And so, over the years since, I learned my Chan from a Chinese; my teacher is Chinese. So, I honestly I don't know much about Indian meditation before they brought it to China. So, what I learned is from a Chinese. I don't know about Sanskrit teachings on meditation because I don't know Sanskrit, ok, so I have no idea.
All non-Buddhist the highest they reach is 8th level samadhi, that's it, ok? But do not, be careful not to belittle them, because even at 8th, they are still higher than most of the Buddhist monks and nuns, so there's no point offending them, ok, and getting in trouble. You won't be able to handle their ire.
So, what is the distinction, why is it important? I give you the analogy of the difference between Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Why do we distinguish about 8th samadhi and higher? It’s the analogy, it's like you build a ten-story building, eight story building. You need all the requirements, I know about all the requirements because I have to deal with a lot of that recently. And that means that you have a foundation that is strong enough to build up to eight stories. Can you go to ninth? Absolutely not. Once you build your foundation, you can go up to eight, you cannot go up to nine or ten, eleven, twelve, you'll be in big trouble. Ok, that's the analogy. That's why it matters the methodology you use, you practice. Because the non-Buddhist practices, they can help you build let's say a foundation up to eight samadhi. But for higher, they cannot. Similarly, the Hinayana they help you build a foundation up to fourth level of Arhat, fourth stage Arhat or Pratyekabuddha, higher they cannot. Whereas this Hua tou here is a method of practice that builds a huge foundation, it's humongous. So, you can build small, slowly slowly slowly, the more you practice the foundation gets stronger and stronger and stronger. Just look at everything else, the foundation is key to growth. I repeat, you practice the Hua tou here, you practice Mahayana methodologies, your foundation gets bigger and stronger as you improve.
Another aspect to look at it; you go all the way to the top. Let's say that some of you have potential to practice all the way. What's the requirement up there? Goodness. That's why, you remember the externalist that I showed you the picture? That's not goodness, you will not be able to rise very high. Because going far requires you to be a good person, in your heart. The strength of your foundation is built upon the goodness of your heart.
As people improve their foundation gets stronger and bigger. Doesn't matter which dharma door you use, as you improve your foundation gets stronger and bigger, is that clear? So, don't be attached to any particular dharma. In our lineage we are not attached to any dharma door.
Now, in the history of Chinese Chan meditation that I learned from, unfortunately they make a big deal out of Hua tou. It's to the point that some Vietnamese monk who are going around teaching people Hua tou which he does not understand at all. He passed away anyway already. So, these people read some books in Chinese/Vietnamese and then he taught Hua tou because no one else understood Hua tou. Most of the Vietnamese don't understand Chinese or are mostly Hinayana roots. So, he confused the picture of the Hua tou; he confused me for a long time. And then the Taiwanese are even worse. There are many Taiwanese teachers who teach Hua tou and someone pretty famous, pretty rich, pretty powerful. They teach Hua tou and they don't understand Hua tou. The level is too low for them to be able to understand Hua tou. Meaning they practice Hua tou their entire life and they really made no progress. Therefore, they use the word Hua tou to impress the donors and so forth. And you don't know any better. The donors don't know any better. It's unfortunate because it makes for even more confusion about the Hua tou.
Ok, let's mention the Japanese. Japanese learn Hua tou from a Chinese. Asian Buddhism basically revolves around Chinese Buddhism. Therefore, the Japanese had to go to China to learn Hua tou. They popularized the word 'koan' which is from Chinese 'gong an'. We owe the popularity of the Hua tou, of the koan, to the Japanese, in the Western world. So that's their contribution. But in terms of practicing the koan or the public records, they are not, again it's a lot of words, a lot of noises, but very little substance if you ask me. So, they are attached to marks. The Japanese, they learn from a Chinese and they understand, they reach a certain level. This is my personal opinion again, please, take it with a grain of salt. They learn Buddhism from the Chinese, they learned Chan from the Chinese, brought it back to their country and they somehow let it evolve into something that has marks. Therefore, it permeates their culture. You see the Zen gardens, the Zen arrangement of flowers and so forth, that's attachment to marks. I happened to like the Zen garden and the Zen arrangement of flowers, but it's not chan. It's a Chan with marks. So, their Hua tou is not quite there either.
And then we went to Korea a couple of months ago. Their Buddhism is that when you meditate, the prevailing methodology is Hua tou and they are very dedicated meditation practitioners. And that's what's remarkable about Korean Buddhism. They are very traditional. So traditionally they always emphasized the Hua tou. So that's why I met so many monks in the meditation retreats for many years and it shows because they reach Arhat's level 1 to 4, which is a lot of them. Many, many of them. But I hope to come back and find more monks because those monks are very hard to find. I hope they practice Hua tou to a much higher level. Because again, this dharma door brings you all the way to enlightenment, not just Arhatship's. Still too slow, Arhats are still too slow for a Hua tou.
So, what is Hua tou here and what is koan? What's the difference between koan and Hua tou? First of all, the koan are all public records. It's actually based on, it's recorded interchanges between Chan masters and their students, their counterparts, is that clear? So how is it recorded, because usually it is private. And how did it get to us, is it accurate? I don't know. I'm just grateful it's recorded. I'm not a scholar, I'm not approaching Chan from a scholarly perspective. This is my bias, I'm no scholar. I'm actually not that well educated, compared to so many of you who have PhD's and so on. Today I'm low level. I'm glad I finished college, I'm so happy already. So, I don't approach Chan from a scholarly perspective, I concentrate on results. Does it bring me to enlightenment? Or, is he enlightened or did his disciples who practiced Chan from him became enlightened? That's my gage, that's my basis for comparison. It doesn't matter whether it is accurate or inaccurate, I don't know. As long as it works, who cares? Even if it's wrong and yet it helps us become enlightened, so much the better! It doesn't matter whether it is accurate or inaccurate, whether it helps us or not. But these are treasures, personally I believe them to be mostly accurate. Sometimes I enjoy reading these koan's. I got lucky, I enjoy, I say "Oh Wow this is cool!". So, it's fun for me, that's my bias as well. Chan meditation is a lot of fun for me.
So, what happened, in the past you have these great teachers, great Chinese teachers and there's so much wisdom. Why are they great? They're great not because they're famous. Just like today there are many many monks that are very famous. I can think of 2 or 3, maybe 4. And I don't feel they are great teachers. So, I see these great teachers, they're great teachers to me, because of the way they train their students. And one of them is my late teacher. That's just for your reference.
So, you see these interchanges, these recordings, things between their teacher and their counterparts, their colleagues or their students. Because such a long story they condense it to one phrase only, which is called Hua tou. So koan and Hua tou, there's a relationship. So far so good? The Hua tou basically is a condensed phrase of the koan associated with it, that people use to practice. Instead of sitting there and say "Oh, Master Hsuan Hua met with his disciple Heng Sure, he said so and so, Heng Sure said so and so, master Hsuan Hua said so and so", that's too long. Basically condensed in one thing "Idiot!" for example, is the phrase. So, when you contemplate "Idiot!" do you know what's happened between the two of them. For example, ok, you contemplate that. We indeed move quickly because time is running out, we're running out of time.
So, what is Hua tou, Hua tou actually literally translates into word-head or in essence it's a critical phrase of that lesson in Chan, is that clear? It's confusing because people never explained it to you this way. It wasn't explained to me this way 20 years ago.
But if you contemplate this Hua tou, this word-head. And we go to contemplation later, ok, a little bit later, do not jump the gun. Don't confuse me, because I wondered about the word contemplation for many many years as well. So, what happened is this Hua tou here, if you contemplate this Hua tou here, this Hua tou actually refers to the origin, the source of a thought, a word, a phrase that arises. It's before that arises. Word-head meaning that the head of the word. Meaning that it's on top of the word, meaning that before the word arises in your mind, in your mouth, what is that, is that clear?
So, before you speak, before you're able to formulate the thought, what is that, that state before you're able to formulate. That is what the Hua tou is going to help you discover, that state of mind. It's no big deal, if you don't understand it's no big deal either. If you understand, it doesn't make any difference, it doesn't matter. Trust me, it doesn't matter. I'm only elaborating this for you so that you cease to be impressed by all these so-called teachers. And say "oh I practice Hua tou and I'm such a big deal. " It's not, it's not a big deal, it's just one form of practice, that's all.
It's one of the many, many Chan dharma doors, it's no big deal, trust me, ok? So far so good? So, this practice here again, the Hua tou, is a special kind of practice that helps you discover your state of mind before a thought arises. Aint that cool? ! Yes? For example, before you say "I like it!", what is that state of mind before you formulate that thought? You don't know right? "I love it!""I hate it!""So cute!" Before that arises, what is the state of mind? all right? Hua tou enables you to see that. So far so good? If you can see that then you are enlightened. All right? That's all there is to it. That's why it's such a clever way. This is why these geniuses taught us the Hua tou to help become enlightened by challenging us, by peaking our curiosity.
So that's how it enables, this method enables looking into the nature and they ask us to contemplate which is asking open ended question lock brains in and makes us keep on contemplating that. It cannot be rationalized. It's not by sitting there and thinking. That's what most people do, they sit there and they rationalize, they try to think. "Let me see, hmm, he called me stupid, maybe it's because I didn't brush my teeth this morning. Or is it because I look ugly. Or it could be that I didn't close my garage. It's not that, you don't sit there and keep on and rationalize and thinking. As you contemplate, the nature of the contemplation, because it dwells on your curiosity, it generates doubt in your mind. And the doubt there, that nature of doubt you have, determines the nature of your enlightenment. The bigger the doubt, the bigger the higher level of enlightenment, is that clear? So, doubt is very important. So far so good?
So how do you contemplate? Contemplation means that you focus on the phrase itself, to the exclusion of everything else. You think about the phrase, for example, the phrase I want to teach you is "Who is mindful of the Buddha's name? ". That's the phrase, so what you do is keep on repeating in your mind, that's what contemplation is. You repeat in your mind "Who's mindful of the Buddha's name? ". So, you keep on repeating that. As you repeat that, the extraneous thoughts arise. Yes? "What's for lunch today? " Can we do that for a few minutes so you can see what I mean, you want to? So, what you do is, let's contemplate this now for a few minutes, all right? Does it make sense? Not just theory, let's do it today right now, ok? So, what you do is you sit in full lotus, hopefully, and then you put your hands together like this in this mudra here (master shows hands, regular meditation mudra with thumbs touching each other) and then you close your eyes or you open your eyes, I don't care what you do with your eyes, but I prefer to close my eyes. And then you form the thought "who's mindful of the buddha's name? " in English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Sri Lankan Yiddish I don't care. It doesn't matter. So, you keep on, let's do that for a few minutes, shall we? So, you repeat in your mind that phrase.
- rings bell
Ok, I'm sorry, we're running out of time. Ok, so, I need to shorten this a little bit to explain to you. So, contemplation simply means that you look, you think about the phrase at the exclusion of the other thoughts. So, you concentrate on that. So, for example, when you contemplate this, you have to worry about your breathing or not? Do you? Of course not! Because if you stop breathing you're dead already you can't contemplate. So why worry about breathing? You see that? So, this methodology you don't have to worry about breathing. You ask this question, I need more time to explain to you why we, the meaning of this phrase here, but we don't have enough time. So right now, today I only have time for you to show you the mechanics. Because I don't know about you but for some people who say "who's mindful of the buddha's name? " then somehow you lock onto that thought and reduce the stress, immediately. Yes or no? There's a difference right away. You forget about your stress, you have no more worries for those moments. That's how you reduce your stress right there, ok? It really really works, ok? All that means is contemplate is that follow that, do not think, don't try to rationalize, ok? Any other thoughts are not welcome. That is contemplation, is that clear? I cannot think of any clearer definition of contemplation that the Chinese Chan teachers use the word and no one really could explain to you clearly.
This is not quite the same as you recite the buddha's name, it's quite different. It's totally different. The use is different. Because right here, there's a question, it's not a recitation, it's a question. You ask yourself a question. You're not reciting the buddha's name, you're not reciting the bodhisattva's name, you’re not reciting a mantra. But you're asking yourself a question, is that clear? There's question mark here. The Hua tou is a question.
preparation for vesak
COMPLAINTS, COMPLAINTS, COMPLAINTS
THE WEI YANG MARKLESS CHAN
the methodology matters
WORDLY TRANSCEDENTAL MEDITATION (TM)
don't attach to any dharma door
attached to marks
becoming enlightened through the HUÀ TÓU (話頭) dharma door
THE BIGGER THE DOUBT THE HIGHER the level of enlightenment
PRACTICE: WHO'S MINDFUL OF THE BUDDHA'S NAME
MAY 25, 2018 | 參話頭 /Cān Huà Tóu/ - Part 2 (in progress)
In general, I feel the hua tou is very appropriate for our time. For this reason, the nature of hua tou is you ponder about a question, you try to find the answer to a question. So, what is called meditation topic, investigate a topic, pretty much like you go to work and you have to come up with a solution to your problems. Yes, anyone have that problem? Sometimes the problems at work are very difficult, are very big, very difficult to solve. And it is a similar process as investigating a hua tou. A very similar process. At work when you have a problem you research your materials, you google materials, pick people's brains. You research and after you gathered all the information and you should contemplate it. Again, contemplation is, this is very often misunderstood concept. Especially people who meditate. Contemplation simply means that you pose a question, look at the question in your mind and you ignore the other thoughts that arise in your mind, as you sit and contemplate. Would you mind putting your robe please master Xianjie, this is a formal event, it's not for you to be dressed like that. You have the whole hour to set up and you come dressed like that. You have no respect for the people and for the process.
So, you contemplate by maintaining the thought in your mind, maintaining the question in your mind and ignore the other thoughts that arise. You maintain that question in your mind. What should I do, what should I do about this project. So, you maintain that thought what is the solution to my problem. You maintain that thought only. As you let go of the other thoughts, beyond any other thoughts we ignore them, you don't follow them. And that's what's contemplation, if you do that eventually you come up with a solution. That's the best way, that's the quickest way to come up with the best solution possible. And there's a similar process in doing the hua tou. You put, you contemplate a question in your mind. Ans as the other thoughts arise, for example "Why is the boy screaming right now? " (there was a baby screaming}. You ignore that! That's part of your training, you understand? You don't say "Oh my god, why it's so loud here, why is the boy screaming here, what is his dad doing, let's hit his dad on the head or something!" That is not contemplation!
Do I make myself clearly? You understand? So that's part of your training, you don't complain about the boy screaming, we slap his face later. Oeh, we're violent yeah yeah. Or we hit his dad later, or key dad's car later, that's different. But the thought, even those thoughts, you discard those thoughts. Agreed? That's a different problem. One problem at a time, agreed? That is meditation, ok? So that's why in hua tou if you train yourself to focus on this one question, contemplate this one question, that's a skill you can develop in order to solve your biggest life problems. Yes or no? Questions or comments? That is why I feel the hua tou is very appropriate for the modern time.
So, we should go through some of the recommendations, the recommended hua tou. The one that I highly recommend, also highly recommended by the patriarchs like my late master and its predecessor, master hsu yun is "Who's mindful of the Buddhas name? " So why is that? Because it relates to the Pure Land Dharma Door. Because the Pure Land Dharma Door is your insurance for getting out of the wheel here, just in case you don't become enlightened through Chan meditation. Because if you don't become enlightened meaning you will have to come back with the wheel of reincarnation. The Pure Land is another way for you to get out, without becoming enlightened. So, at this day and age it is very difficult to become enlightened, so we need to buy insurance.
All right, so, in the Pure Land, the Pure Land patriarchs, they said that in order to practice the Pure Land Dharma Door. They said the four methods of practice, number 1 is to recite the Buddha's name. So, you say Amituofo, so you sit there, we talked to you before, you only simply maintain the thought, recite 'Amituofo Amituofo'. Those of you who came from or who listened, been exposed to Hinayana teachers, who are saying that there's no such a Buddha, ignore that. They don't know what they are talking about. I encourage you if such monks or such lay people say there is no such a Buddha called Amitabha Buddha, ignore them. They don’t know what they are talking about. Because they have no wisdom. You shouldn't believe such teachers, they're confused. I have no other ways, I won't beat around the bush with you. They really confuse. Number 2, another way to recite the Buddha, another way to do the Pure Land is you contemplate an image. For example, you can contemplate that statue right there, it's amazing. You do these things you find out is fascinating, it really really works. It's very effective for the people who are more visual. Very keen about images, yes? You contemplate the buddha statue or a Buddha a picture, that is another way. You just contemplate. It's another way.
Another 3rd way is a contemplation method that's in our, one of the Pure Land sutra called the Contemplation Sutra. The sixteen series of contemplation you first start with contemplation number 1 and then you move on to number 2, number 3, number 4. As you succeed in the 1st contemplation you move on to the 2nd contemplation and 3rd contemplation until contemplation number 16, then you made it. If you can succeed get to contemplation number 16 and you see it, you can see that picture, then you'll be reborn to the Pure Land, congratulations. You don't need to come to Lu Mountain Temple anymore, ok, you're saved. You saved yourself. And remember to come back and save me! That's 3
Number 4 is called Real Mark recitation. I described you in the past as this is what enlightened people do when they recite the Buddha's name, where they practice this Dharma door. Enlightened people, as soon as they recite, they practice Pure Land Dharma door, they are practicing what is called Real Mark recitation. So far so good? My master didn't explain it that way. He explained it as, you contemplate who's mindful of the Buddha's name, he called that Real Mark recitation.
All right, any questions? So that's why. . . yes? (Shana asks question) Did you say Is reciting the Buddha's name the same as your mind? That's what my master says. Ok, if he says so, then it must be the same as reciting the Buddha's name. Another form of reciting the Buddha's name. Any questions? So, what is, who's mindful of the Buddha's name? It's basically, the idea behind it, is this. You sit there, you said who's reciting this Buddha's name. He says, yes? And you need to recite the Buddha's name at the same time? No, you just say, you just ask the question, it's just a question, who's reciting the Buddha's name? Or, who's the boy who's crying, who's screaming? It's the question that intrigues you. You want to have the answer for this. And the way to get the answer is by maintaining that question, not thinking. That's the hua tou. The reason is that if you, the solution you come up with to the answer, you can obtain it by stopping all discursive thoughts, then it's the best solution possible. You naturally will come up with a solution that is the best solution possible. That if you sat there and thought about it, you won't be able to come up with. You said Oh, who's reciting the Buddha's name? I'm reciting the Buddha's name! But who am I? Oh, I was born from my parents, I came here, some of you it's like 20+ years ago. So, you keep on thinking, that's called discursive thinking. You don't do that. You just say who's reciting the Buddha's name? That's what you do. And all the other thoughts that arise, you ignore them. Got that? Very simple process. And in doing that you're able to maintain your focus on one thought only, one question only. You see that, one thought only. And that will sharply increase your focus. And that will tremendously improve your strength of focus, that you can use at work. Much easier for you to focus, on any issues that interest you.
Yes? In maintaining the question, your other thoughts are not, if other thoughts in your mind is not related to this question and just different thoughts. (master) Any other thought is not related to this question, you only have one thought. Nothing else matters. (Shana) Right so if you have other thoughts that are not related to this question. . . (master) They're all not related to this question, you still don't get it! (Shana) Oooo. . . (master) Any other thought that arises is not related. (Shana) So you still (master) You drop everything else. It's that simple. It's nothing to understand. The process is very simple. Who's reciting the Buddha's name? Any other thought that arises "Oh, noisy here", ignore that. That's all you do, you ignore everything else. (Shana) You still get the doubt later? (master) It's just no doubt, you keep on doing that and you will eventually enter different, evolve. Eventually become a doubt. But that's further down the line. It's no need to think about do I get a doubt later? It's not even necessary. You know too much! Forget it! If you concentrate on that, you naturally develop a doubt, without thinking about it. You're thinking too much, you're anticipating. You only do one thing! Who's mindful of the Buddha? You keep on asking, focusing on that one thought. You got that? If you do that you'll see it works wonders. You're able to drop everything else, any other thought. Only maintaining one thought, maintain your mind on one thought. That's it. Meaning that the process helps you reduce the kind of thoughts that arise in your mind. Because naturally in our mind the thoughts keep on arising, one after another, all the time, yes?
So, this process here helps you, trains you to ignore the other thoughts. That's why it's very powerful. Questions. So that's what you do. You sit there, ok. Last week I started by telling you that we should try it; would you like to try it again? Now you understand it a little bit better. Last time I apologized, I was a little bit rushed. Yes? Just sit there, close your eyes and maintain one thought. Who's reciting the Buddha's name? That's all you do. And see how the other thoughts arise and ignore them. That's all, it's very simple process. Ok, shall we? 5 minutes? Want to? Ok, let's do it.
- 5 min Hua tou Meditation, rings bell to end
What do you think? You can do it now. The problem as you notice, is that one thing I want to caution you is that first of all, does it help you concentrate better, or not? Can you focus on that thought and you see how the other thoughts keep on arising, right? See, they sneak in, right? And you keep on focusing then. That's the process, all right? Now I caution you, you notice you're able to maintain that when you open your eyes and you look at people, be careful. That focus right there, that you maintain in your head when you say you talk to people and let's say you just finish doing the hua tou and you go talk to your wife for example, (master screams) WHAT, that's the equivalent, ok? So be careful, be gentle, it offends people very offensive. People are very uncomfortable, you're unbearable in other words. You're unbearable, serious, no one likes you. So be careful. So, after you do hua tou, I don't know, you put on some eyedrops or something so that your eyes are blurring and you say 'hi honey', ok? Make sure you don’t use it, you're careful not to offend people. Because you're so intense. All right? That's from experience. Because once you're like that, they remember how unpleasant you are, how unpleasant you can be. I don't want you to lose, to offend your spouses in particular and your children.
That's why you don't have to do anything, you wait until you're done with it (master screams), that's the equivalent! And he'll remember. . . See we have plenty of ways to retaliate, don't need to do anything yet. It doesn't matter the language, so don't keep on jumping to 3. Yeah, you know too much, ok? ! If you like Vietnamese, you do Vietnamese, if you like Korean do Korean, I don't care just choose one. If you do hua tou, you're so intense, this is crazy. Because, see what happens, the nature of hua tou, you focus on one thing, not only you are focusing, the nature of the question is that you are drooming into it, that’s why it's very unpleasant, see that? The nature of the hua tou is actually drooming into the question, you see that, it's very invasive, it's very unpleasant. So, avoid looking at people's eyes, ok? Just friendly tip for you, don't come back and say master how come I have no more friends? So far so good, does it help? It's so cool methodology.
Another one. You want another one? You want to? Some people, and I recommend this for everyone by the way, if you do hua tou I recommend, highly recommend you try this once. For some time. Try it for a while. See if it engages you or not. It's so tremendous, it's very powerful methodology. Another topic extremely popular is maybe because of the Christians, the Christian blood in you, Christian genes in you, Catholic genes, ok. It says, "What is your original face before you were born?"
That is the topic. So, you sit there and you contemplate this question 'What is my original face before I was born?' How do I look like before I was born? Do I have a nose? Any hair? Don't think about hair, no, what is my original face? Remember, what is the story behind it? Chinese. This is a gong an, this is a public record that happened between, in the past it happened between two Chan masters. Chinese name doesn't matter, the Chinese name you can read this. Basically, the Chan master came to ask another famous Chan master and the visiting Chan master says "Great master, what is my original face before I was born? " This is very very impolite. You see he is not like 'Hi, how are you? ' Are you well, and so forth. Usually monks when they see each other, they are very polite saying how are you, you know, are you well, did your disciples treat you well? Are they well behaved and so forth? Typically, the monks are very polite to each other. This monk here came over and said "What is my original face before I was born? " And what did the famous Chan master do? What did he do? He said (master sticks out his tongue). And then he opened his eyes (master sticks out his tongue again). So, the visiting Chan master, what did he say? He says "Wow, so many faces, huh? !" And the great master really became very serious, make a very serious face. So, the great master, the famous Chan master says, then what kind of face you just see? And the other, the younger Chan master says 'I saw no-form, no-mark. ' Kind of state. And the great Chan master immediately realized that this is no simple dummy, Chan student, Chan visitor. So, he said, what kind of world is that you saw? He says, the visiting Chan master says, well, you talk about birth, it's not born yet, you talk about death, it hasn't died yet. Ah, you saw the original face. He certified that the visiting monk saw the original face. Any questions? So that's the story, that's the public record behind this hua tou. So, meaning that if you contemplate this topic, this meditation topic, what is my original face before I was born? You can become enlightened. So far so good? So, you have a record right here that you can become enlightened through this method. So, you stop thinking about it, you ignore anything else, how cute the boys can be. You just ask 'What is my original face before I was born? ' He's cute! Neh, what is my original face, what is his original face before he was born. You can ask that, what is his original face before he was born? Probably it cannot be that cute. Would not be fair. So far so good?
Questions? This is very famous. If you do hua tou, you need to do this. Try this as well. My original face before I was born. Questions? Yes? Do we have time to try it? (master watches watch) No, we don't, we can try it at home. Go home, try this. Now we need to. What is for lunch? Next meditation topic? Any questions? In the practice, should we change questions once in a while, or should we just stick to one question? Usually you choose something that intrigues you. That peaks your interest. Initially when you start out, it's a good question. What I wouldn't be a bad idea for you to try different things initially. You can try different things. I would recommend you try different things, like, why would you want to stick to Chinese food only? I would go for Italian every now and then, I would go Russian, you know, and Indian and Thai if you will. But after a while, you will find out something that clicks for you, better than the other. For example, if you're older, you have more motivation to find out who's mindful of the Buddha's name, because that's your ticket to liberation. To put an end to all disconfusion. If you are Catholic or Christian by nature, they always, especially people, smart people says, ponders about the origin of life. You wonder about where men came from, women came from, that kind of thing. If that intrigues you this is a topic for you. He says, God tells me that he made me from the rib of Adam. That's what they think about, ok? So, that's kind of things that peak your interest, this is the topic for you. How do you shape a face from the ribs? I would like to know. All right? So that's what I do. I tried and somedays something works and something better than others. But eventually you will settle in something that makes you 'click' and focus in a sustained fashion. All right? Good, we stop here today.
HUÀ TÓU (話頭) is very appropriate for the modern time
figuring out a problem at work is a similar process to HUÀ TÓU (話頭)
how to come up with the best solution possible
part of the training
one problem at a time
the pureland dharma door is your security if you don't become enlightened
CONTEMPLATION SUTRA (16 PHASES)
HOW TO PRACTICE HUÀ TÓU (話頭)
PRACTICE: WHO'S MINDFUL OF THE BUDDHA'S NAME
BE CAREFUL - THE AFTER EFFECTS OF HUÀ TÓU (話頭) IS VERY INTENSIVE
HUÀ TÓU (話頭): WHAT IS MY ORIGINAL FACE BEFORE I WAS BORN?
PICK A TOPIC THAT YOU HAVE INTEREST IN
june 02, 2018 | 參話頭 /Cān Huà Tóu/ - Part 3 (in progress)
You know for you newbies, the guy with the broken leg is not from Chan ok? ! Do not be scared. This is very weird Chan class over the years. Eventually you get used to it. This is the only place that has the Chan class where we have children run around, you know, during, before and after the Chan class, in class, outside class. Why is that? Because that's how we brainwash them. Just think about it, you let your children, you know, you sit there and meditate and you see a boy walking. Looking around, you know, what's going to happen to him the rest of his life, one day he is going to wake up and say "Oh my God! I better meditate too!" You see that? Because all these adults, meditated, therefore it must be important. They saw us adults meditate, therefore someday they too will meditate. That's what I call brainwashing. Subtle Chan brainwashing.
In fact, before I forget, we are coming up with a new series to educate people more about chan. And the seam because you Westerners, the people in the West only know meditation as mindfulness meditation. Even the Vietnamese and so forth, they think of, and we talk of mindfulness meditation, everyone talks about breathing. Ok, they count breath. And for us Mahayana people I kind of chuckle, because meditation is so many ways to meditate. And so many important methods of meditation. And counting your breath is only one of a million of them. Ok, and after the last 40 years, 20 years that I have been learning meditation every time I teach meditation is always breath counting. There's got to be something better so that's why we have a theme called 'Beyond Mindfulness', and we make fun of it, and share with you our Chan perspective.
Why do we want to learn many different methods of meditation? And this is part of the slide show I want you to come up with. I'm glad you're here. Because we should have a slide show with indric music, you know like Revelle or something, I don't know. And then why is that when you learn meditation or mindfulness meditation, it's always like breath counting! And you realize that, I want to show a picture of a roofing nail, you know, asked for shingles, and then you have a nail for tiles, that's this long (master indicates with fingers). And each nail requires different types of hammer, yes? ! Of those of you who are into roofing at all, because I've been trying to fix the roof of my church for a year now and still not done yet, I'm really getting frustrated. Learning more about roofing I care to learn. So, this roofing here, the thing here you use a different hammer for a roofing nail like this right (master indicating long roofing nail with his fingers)? So, you use different tools for different purposes Sometimes you use a hammer and sometimes you use pliers. Sometimes you use a light hammer, sometimes you use a heavy hammer and you don't use your fist unless you are Bruce Lee :). So, meditation is the same thing, see what I mean?
Every weekend it's like this and you know, it's brainwashing. The other temple said, 'noo, don't let children in, because you know, they're disrupting us. No, this is our chance to brainwash them. Look at that (master looking at a child). Doesn't know what's happening, 'why you are meditating? ' he says. See that? I assure you, in the future she too will meditate. Because it's right there (master points to his head), these images of people (master imitating a meditating person), or ru Chan, what happened to him (master imitating a meditator with pain in his legs). See, very lasting impressions.
All right. So, talking about you know, you want to learn different methods of meditation because some work better at different times. Sometimes it's better to do breath counting; sometimes you're better of reciting a mantra. For example, you go to a cemetery, to meditate. And you find yourself not be able to concentrate. If I go, for example, let's make it very personal, if I were to go to a cemetery to meditate, because I have to wait for my wife, I mean for other people. You don't want to be there. But you have to wait for your wife to go and offer flowers, whatever. You sit there in a cemetery and try to do breath counting. Or let's say a hospital. And you try to do breath counting, you're going to have a heck of a time. All right? Try it and you see. I don't recommend you do this, but this is what I tried. I would, if I go to the cemetery, I would recite a mantra, it's called the Shurangama mantra. Because that would work a lot better than breath counting. If I go to, or I recite the Buddha's name, it would be much better than breath counting, because you're going to have a heck of a time trying to concentrate on your breathing.
Because it's very noisy, like when we were sitting here and our neighbor from Hong Kong, because they speak Cantonese I imagine therefore they are from Hong Kong, he blasted his radio, in Cantonese. It's too noisy. And this is where you monks and nuns are not supposed to sit there and look pretty and look so adorned. You go and you close the windows. You go if it still doesn't work, you go to the neighbor and say please we have a meditation class here, would you like to join us. If you don't want to join us, would you kind off lower your radio a little bit. It's not my job to do that, ok. Anyway, so, you go to cemetery, it's better to recite the Buddha's name, for me, I recite the Buddha's name, I recite the mantra. I go to a hospital, ok, I would recite the Buddha's name. Or I recite the Great Compassion Mantra. That would be much better than breath counting. Try it and you see! Ok, experiment! And that's why when you meditate, when we meditate, we should know and try different meditation methodologies. Try them out. Try them all. Because you'll find out that some works better at different times, different places.
So, in a Chan meditation the Hua tou is one of the famous meditation techniques in Mahayana meditation, that very few people, very few teachers teach it anymore. It's because the meditation teachers don't understand Hua tou anymore. Including my masters, my late Chinese teacher's pupils. I can't think of anyone who teaches Hua tou, the last 20 years I practiced the dharma. And therefore, to the newcomers, Hua tou is sort of like a, so we talk about it to demystify it. It's another meditation technique. It's no more, no less. In the spectrum of Mahayana meditation techniques, Hua tou is up there (master pointing up), because you can get very far with it. And quicker, if you know what to do. Not the highest, it's not the highest. Not the most powerful, it's one of the more powerful techniques. And don't be afraid of it, you should try it. Try them all. There are many, many ways to practice Hua tou. But from the Chan practices, or from whether the Chinese or Korean or Japanese, they made a big deal out of it.
It's not, that's why I decided to demystify it for you and this is the 3rd lecture on that, maybe in the future we put together a series of short video clips to explain to you what a Hua tou is and how to practice some of the Hua tou. To demystify and encourage more people to practice, to help more people understand and widen their understanding of Chan meditation. So, I don't want to repeat myself, you can refer to lecture no. 1, instructional talk no. 1 on Hua tou and no. 2, and we continue now to talk about; last time we talked about some of the techniques, or we recommended you that you should try the Hua tou called 'Who's mindful of the Buddha's name? '. And then we talked about very very famous Hua tou, you contemplate the question 'What is the original face before you were born? '. And let me remind you what is the Hua tou. For the sake of the newbies, the newcomers, Hua tou is a meditation technique where you contemplate a question. We contemplate a question that interests you. You're curious about. All right, so, for example, you contemplate, what does contemplate mean? You keep this question, for example, 'Who's mindful of the Buddha's name? '. You keep this question in your mind, you think about it who's reciting the Buddha's name. Who's mindful of the Buddha's name. That's all. And other thoughts who arise, you ignore that. That's what contemplation means. You're not supposed to think about it, or try to understand it. You just focus, that's what's contemplation is. You focus, you zoom in to this question. There's one thought only. You see, I was confused when I first started meditation. No one ever taught me this. People talk about contemplation, contemplation and no one explained to me what does contemplation mean.
Contemplation does not mean you try to think, you try to understand. Contemplation means you only look, you contemplate, one thought, is that clear? That's what contemplation means. And no. 2, so you contemplate a question. What is that you're curious about? A question is that you want to understand, ok, but you cannot. If you keep on thinking about it, you will not be able to come up with a solution. If you think about it. For example: if you try to understand this question 'Who's mindful of the Buddha's name? ', and try to understand the question, because that's what you do every day, you try to understand. Yes Brady? You want to understand what is this about right? Nooo! If you want to understand what's it about, you try to understand it, you will not be able to, if you contemplate the Hua tou. It's not possible to understand, to get an answer through reasoning, through comprehension.
So, what happens is that is why when you contemplate this Hua tou, you don't try to understand the Hua tou, is that clear? You only keep the question, that one question, in your mind, that's all. That's the process. It's that simple. Then the thought, your mind, your thinking mind says, wait a minute, mindful what does it mean? Yes? And you say, that's not necessary. You should just keep to that one question, it doesn't matter what it means. Let the other part of your intellect take over, don't condone your natural propensity to keep on thinking and try to come up with an intellectual answer. That's what you do, every day. And that's not meditation, not at all. You don't think about it! You just keep that question in mind, one thought only! Keep the question only, is that clear? If someone explained that to me 20 years ago, I would be enlightened by now! I think. Because 20 years ago I sat there and thought, mindful, what's mindful? They said this is a Buddha recitation technique, how come? ? ! And I sat there and I thought and thought and thought and tried to understand why and what and how. Noooo! It's very simple! Just keep that thing, one question, in mind, and don't think. In case these thoughts arise, ignore them.
Because that lady, I know she's the intellectual type, she sits there and she says, wow, I know master Yonghua says this is very high level of Chan meditation technique. I don't see what's so high about it! Ok, don't do that! Is that clear? Remember, the key is a question. See the question mark here (master points at question mark in slide)? It's a question. So, it is a topic, this is something that you ask yourself. Because you don't know what it is. And if you ask the question that you're wondering about, you cannot get the answer by thinking about it, that's the whole point. There's no way for you to use your thinking mind to come with a solution for this. It's not possible. This is the genius of the Chan teachers. It's designed to kick your interest. That's what this is about. Or you go to the next thing, what is the original face before you were born? You think about this topic, very very famous topic, it's no way for you to come up with an answer. Some would come up with, oh I was probably the cyclops, and then it starts moving over here and another eye grows. And then it will fill u with eyebrows, the nose, it grew taller and taller and taller, until it got to be this tall. You cannot know. It's not possible to conceptualize it, with your thinking mind. The answer cannot come with the thinking mind.
So, what happens, when you contemplate this question here, the thinking mind arises and says uh huh, stop it! Stop thinking. That is meditation. Is that clear? It's so clever. It's so beautiful. It's genius. You cannot find the solution, the answer, unless you stop thinking completely! And you WILL find the answer! It's possible to find the answer. Let me repeat, the whole nature of Hua tou, the answer to these all, to any of these Hua tou, you can find the answer yourself, IF you stop thinking completely. It will come to you. So, until that comes to you, you stop there, you sit there and you stop all these thoughts. A thought arises, No! Another thought arises, FORGET IT! What's for lunch? NEVER MIND! You see that? Any thought arises, no, nip it in the buts. You know what this is? Rose nipper. Never mind. No one gardens anymore. You guys are so boring. I don't garden by the way. Anyway, ok, any questions? It's that simple! And because of, when you sit there, you contemplate a question, the nature of the mind is fantastic. What's going to happen is that if, as you practice a little bit, you find out actually something really funny happens. Only in Hua tou, what is it? As you sit there you are able to have fewer and fewer discursive thoughts. You realize that as you contemplate the question, every time you say 'What is my original face before I was born? ' And every time, you maintain that thought, every time you have a thought arise in your mind, see that's what you do. You sit there, 'what is my original face before I was born? what is my original face before I was born? ', that's what you do. Is that clear?
You repeat the question in your mind. One question only, that one question. And you will find out, what? Every time you ask the question, it's like you're drilling deeper and drilling deeper and drilling deeper into your ignorance. Into your what (participant asks)? Ignorance. So, feels like you get deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper. Or sometimes you're so sleepy, it's like you're spinning your wheels. And then, like your drills anyone have to use drills before? Brady, huh? You're drilling a hole in the wood and suddenly you hit cement! It's just that drills get overheat, that's all it does, yes? But if you notice, if you pay attention, you see as the drilling effect, every time you ask the question, you know, as you get going, you realize wow actually it has a drilling a boring effect, it's kind of cool. So, you drill deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper. That's how it feels like. Yes? Anyone experience that? Oh my god. And you do that, ok, step no. 4. What happens is that eventually something called DOUBT. Naturally you keep on asking the question, eventually only one question left and then eventually the doubt arises, because of the question. It's a question, with which you generate doubt in your mind. And that's what they call doubt, the state of mind that is called doubt.
And then all you have in mind but who is it? who is it? who is it? Becomes violent! I cannot express it. I’m not violent by the nature, so I cannot express it to you. At least I'd like to think I’m not violent. My disciples think otherwise. But it becomes so violent and so obsessive, there becomes something called doubt. It's so ferocious, so fierce, ok? Who is it? ? You got that? Once I describe it to you, you say oh I don't need to practice Hua tou, I know it all well already. Noooo, I explain it to you to encourage you to experience it yourself. . . I describe it to you to peak your interest, your curiosity, so that you do it and you see and you prove that I'm wrong! That I'm just been pulling your legs all these years! The master only teaches these weird things and I finally have a proof, he's full of it!! It's easy to say but for me it's very difficult to practice (participant). Yeah. . . , it's not easy. . . , it takes time, it takes time. I tried to do so much very hard (participant). Yeah, because, no one taught you how to do it and no one spell out for you what’s wrong, the wrong way to do it. They say do Hua tou! And they don't tell you what you should not do! I'm teaching you the opposite things, I'm teaching you what not to do. So that what's left is only the right things to do.
All right, does it help? Now, if this doubt here becomes soo consuming. Because it bothers you soo much, you don't care about eating, you don't care about sleeping, you don't care about your girlfriend, ok? It's all consuming. And that's how you become enlightened. You break through this doubt. You break the doubt and that's how you become enlightened. That’s when the answer comes. You know the answer! Ain't that cool? I think this is the first time ever that an Asian guy explains Hua tou this way. Because it's better to make it you know so mysterious, so that you're so afraid of it and say wow! This is so advanced, it's not for me, you know. I'm Hua tou teacher, therefore I'm an advanced meditator. Heck no! It's one more method.
It's another method. How long would that take (participant). How long what (master)? How long would it take before the doubt becomes so big, depends on various and from person to person (participant)? Well it's too much information. Because the doubt here, actually some people the doubt is this small actually. When you get to the doubt, you see the doubt this small. And sometimes if you see the doubt it's this big (master indicates with arms). And sometimes bigger like this. That's when you get to 5th ground. But then you want to be higher it has to be bigger. So, it depends. Don't worry, depends on the conditions. The seize of the doubt. Actually, you can feel the seize of the doubt. But that's too much information! Don't worry about it, when you get to the doubt, you're almost there. Keep it up! Don't worry. Don't stop! You can come and say Yonghua, you're right (making gesture of holding a phone)! I say oh, thank you thank you thank you. Give me a call, when you get to the doubt. Ok, please. At least I know I haven't pulled your leg. Do you have to generate it in one session, or (participant)? Could be in one session, half an hour, could be 3 years, could be 3 lifetimes, who knows, who cares. Just do it! So fun! You guys are too greedy! You say, give me a meditation technique that will help me become enlightened. There's no such a thing! I don't know such a thing! If I did, he'll have to pay for it (master pointing to somebody in the hall)! Ok, just learn! It's part of the fun of discovery! And do it, it's fun! It's very rewarding! Don't say, how much longer before I can succeed? I don't know. If I knew, you'd have to pay for it, that information. If I knew that kind of secret, you'd have to pay for it, yes? ! I wouldn't be teaching it for free, never! I assure you! You get what you pay for, let's face it.
All right, question? It's cool, it's fun! You should try it! One more thing, so what happened, the Hua tou, is that each Hua tou is actually a condensation of an event, of a story. So, what happens it's a story, actually it's a story itself. Why, what happens so, last time we explained to you, the origin of this question, the Hua tou, called 'What is my original face before I was born? '. Now this week I would like to tell you, this is one of my favorites: 'What's the sound of one hand clapping? ' And what's the story behind it? Oeps, Chinese. What's the story behind it. In the past, there's a very famous Chan master and he has so many pupils studying, practicing under him, learning meditation under him. And among them there's a boy, and he saw how the can master teaches his pupils. And you know, kids in the temple, you see we allow them to walk around, make a lot of noises, but we don't teach them. And the boy says, 'but I want to meditate? ' I want to learn! So he, the boy has the guts! He's a very gutsy boy. He went and made an appointment to see the Chan master. He says, 'Master, I would like to meditate. Please teach me how to meditate. ' Hi Ana! You're perfect timing, now we continue for last week. You missed hardly a thing. Excellent timing, impressive! So, he says, this boy here says, 'I want to meditate too, how come you discriminate? ' So, the master says, 'You know, it's hard work, it's not like you can play video games on the iPhone, on your cell phone and you know, it's not like playing a game on a cell phone. Are you willing to do that? ' 'Yes! I meditate! I want to learn meditation. ' So, he says, 'You know, you know the sound of two hands clapping, yes? ' The boy says, 'Of course!' So, the master says, 'So what is the sound of one hand clapping? '
And the boy, 'Uh, uh, uh, maw? ' Master shakes head. The Chan meditation master looks so happy, smiling and the boy is so offended. He says, 'Give me some time. ' So, he went away, half an hour later he came back. He says, and he made a sound of a flew. The Chan master says, no and shakes head. So, the boy thought about it and he went to a place where there's no one around. And he figured that, it's a very unusual sound. Therefore, he got to go to an unusual place. So, you go to a strange place, to look for a strange sound. Yes? ! So, he went to strange place and he sat there and thought about what is the sound of one hand clapping? This is a boy mind you. And he says, oh, he came right back to the Chan meditation master and made a sound of a frog! I don't know what is the sound of a frog, anyone help me out please? Sound of a frog (master points to somebody in the hall)? Anyone, sir? And the boy is so upset and he ran away, what is that sound? ! Can you see the process? It's all consuming, so he kept on thinking and thinking about it. And he kept on coming back, every time the master says no (master shakes head). Three years later! This is why you practice Hua tou for three years if you don't get enlightened, please stop, ok? Change Hua tou, change technique, whatever, I don't care, but change, ok, for God's sake, I mean for Buddha's sake. Three years later he came back, walked into the Buddha hall and to the master's room, and? ! What happened? The master took one look at him and nodded yes. Before the boy could even open his mouth! The master opened his mouth, first, and said -master nods with his head- 'hmmmmmm, very good. You heard it. '. And the boy says - master smiles and imitates boy looking happily up to the sky :) This is an American boy ok.
Ok? And that's the story behind this Hua tou, what is the sound of one hand clapping. That a boy, mind you! beats you to it already. A 10-year-old boy beat you already - master laughing. Got that? So now this is why when people, they do the Hua tou, you only contemplate the question. Is that clear? Anyone interested in doing this? Knowing there's a boy who beat you to it already? Ok? Better hurry. You don't sit there and say, uuh, what is the sound of one hand clapping, can I beat this boy? Forget it, ok? Right Thierry? Don't say hey, I'm only, how old are you, 6 right? 7? You're 7 already? You have 3 more years boy, to break through this thing here, good timing. All right. You should get started boy. Ok? More brain washing. All right, any questions? Ain't it cool? Ok, so that's the story behind it. Don't sit there and keep on going to the story. You sit there and you contemplate one question like the boy did. What is the sound of one hand clapping, what is the sound of one hand clapping, ok, that's all you do. Is that clear? It's cool, it's fascinating. Ok, one more thing, I'm going to learn because I don't want to go back to Hua tou anymore, because I'm losing students left and right! The 3rd class, only 2 or 3 people show up. They get bored and say oh my god, master, teach something better. Oh well, what is enlightenment? ! What is enlightenment? Who knows about enlightenment, anybody knows about enlightenment? What is enlightenment? You do? Yes? She says you understand everything? Eeeeh, master says. Anyone else? Anyone else? She says, an awakening because you realize you're born stupid and you need to arise from your stupidity and open your wisdom. Eeeeh, master says, I mean, with all due respect. Anyone else? Ask! What is enlightenment, what is enlightenment, what is enlightenment? If you do that, you'll find the answer. You don't need to hear it from me. I don't need to explain it to you, ok? If I explain it to you, you will not be able to understand it. I'll be blunt with you. If I explain it to you, you cannot understand. That's why I don't explain it to you. What's the point in explaining to you if you cannot understand? It would be a waste of my time and your time.
All right? So, the best way, is do the Hua tou. What is it? ! What is it? Yes? If you're curious about enlightenment. Because you, you see this lady, that's wrong, oh no you're wrong too, anyone else? You're wrong! What about you? You're wrong! Xianqie, what is enlightenment? You're wrong, don't open your mouth! Ok, got that? So, what is it? ! That's the Hua tou. What is it? What is it? ! Ok, questions? And then, you know, some of the Buddhas, you know because we cannot ignore the Buddhas, they do exist, at least one or two. Says that ten thousand dharmas return to one, where does one return to? That's very Buddhist! For you non-Buddhists, you still, it's ok for you to contemplate. This is why, ok. Or you simply contemplate, 'one'. What is that one? What is one? One, one, what is one? For the lazy ones like me, I prefer one, one, one, one, one, ok? It really works. Questions? I'm running out of time, finally. And there's a story behind it which is nonsense, I'm not going to translate it for you. And also, some of the Chinese teachers, they teach, there's a Hua tou here which I strongly caution you not to practice. It's 'Who's dragging this corpse around?' Don't do this. Why not? Because a lot of people are depressed. You practice this, your depression is going to come in and attack you and disorient you and you'll be helpless. It's a lot more people who are depressed than you think. Even the French; when I was younger, I went to a French high school and it's like very fashionable to say oh, you know, 'I'm depressed today'. Like if it is so fashionable. It's so cool to admit 'Chez le cava' Yes? It's so cool! I don't feel like doing Chez le cava! Ok, now it's so pervasive, a lot more than you think. And that's why, don't practice these things, it will make you very vulnerable. Not a good thing to do. Xu Yun recommends this and Sheng yen recommends this, because they are Chinese! Don't imitate the Chinese. We're in America. Do what Americans do, ok? All right. Don't go there. It's not worth it. Ok, there are plenty of other Hua tou that you can practice. You should choose a Hua tou that are a little bit safer. So, you see, in conclusion, the Chinese Chan master, the Chan masters are really geniuses and the Indian masters they understand the nature of the functioning of your mind. That's why they devise this dharma called the Hua tou, that will help you break through and help you see the real workings of your mind. You need to see how the mind operates before you can see why the Hua tou is such ingenious. It's so clever (master whispers). It's so unique. Ok, just do it, like Mr. Nikey says. Ok, I'm quoting a very famous person, Mr. Nikey or something? Just do it! Ok, thank you, let's go to lunch. Aah, no more Hua tou, because I'm running out things to say.
FOR YOU NEWBIES ...
NEW SERIES COMING SOON - BEYOND MINDFULNESS
IT'S OUR CHANCE TO INFLUENCE THEM INSTEAD OF REJECTING THEM
TRY DIFFERENT METHODOLOGIES AT DIFFERENT TIMES AND DIFFERENT PLACES
DEMYSTIFY HUÀ TÓU (話頭)
WHAT DOES CONTEMPLATION MEAN
YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND HUÀ TÓU (話頭) THROUGH ...