Meditation & Health #4 – The Zen State of Mind

Meditation & Health #4 Contents

The Zen State of Mind

Grandmaster JinBodhi

Return to Original Nature

The Power of a Baby

The purpose of my teaching is to help every¬one return to the state of our Original Nature, which is also known as the Zen state.

Two thousand years ago the Zen approach was adapted by the ancient Chinese, among whom was a sage called Lao Zi, the author of the famous “Tao Te Ching.” He said that the state of Tao is a return to our Original Nature, as simple and pure as that of a baby. This infantile state possesses the most pow¬erful energy.

When I first heard this concept, I didn’t un¬derstand it. I thought: A baby is powerless, unable to walk or talk. I wondered what sort of amazing power could be inherent in the young.

However, upon reflection, I recalled the bright shining quality of a baby’s eyes. Healthy babies’ minds and hearts are in a very pure state, totally unpolluted. A baby’s mind has not yet been influenced by its par¬ents, by their so-called “intelligence.” Thus, a baby’s mind is still pure. As a result, a baby’s intuition, their direct response to any stimuli, is very strong and real. This “direct response” reflects a state of straightforward¬ness and purity with no complication.

In this pure, Original State, a baby possesses a kind of power that has been overlooked by many. Of course, compared with an adult, an infant’s physical strength is limited. How¬ever, taking into account size and inexperi¬ence, a baby’s hands are amazingly strong. I once tested the strength of a baby’s hands. Holding the infant, I placed his hands on a slim bar. After seeing him grasp it tightly, I slowly and carefully let go. He continued to grasp the bar, holding himself up. But please don’t try this at home! An average, healthy baby might weigh seven or eight kilograms. Considering age and size, it doesn’t seem possible that an infant could use its hands to support its own weight. However, in the philosophy of Zen, this phenomenon occurs due to the baby’s Original Nature of ultimate purity.

“Qi” vs. “Emptiness”

What is ultimate purity?

Traditionally, Taoism and Buddhism have both utilized meditation as a spiritual path¬way to our Source. Taoism uses the Chinese word “炁” to symbolize Source’s ultimate purity. Let’s connect this word with a Bud¬dhist sutra: Heart Sutra.

The Heart Sutra states: “When the Bodhi¬sattva Guan-Zi-Zai was in the Deep Prajna Paramita, he perceived the emptiness of all Five Aggregates. In so doing, he overcame suffering. He said, ‘Sariputra, form does not differ from void (emptiness) and void does not differ from form.’”

Does this revelation have anything to do with the word “炁”? This character “炁” is pronounced “wu” or “qi.” It can be understood to mean “non-existence” or “emptiness.”

Although non-existence implies emptiness, and vice versa, there is in actuality substance to nothingness. This may seem contra¬dictory. How does Buddhism interpret it? Buddhism has a term for the state indicated by the word “炁.” It is “zhen-kong-miao-you,” meaning emptiness with illusionary existence. Though the void may seem empty, it is not truly empty. In the classic Chinese novel, Journey to the West, the Monkey King is given the dharma name “Wu Kong,” meaning “to experience the void.”

Who is the bodhisattva noted by Guan-Zi-Zai at the start of the Heart Sutra? Many people think it is the famous Avalokitesvara (Guanyin). However, dharma exists to en¬lighten all sentient beings, not just one. Thus, according to my understanding, this Bodhi¬sattva refers to all practitioners who have reached an extreme state of deep Zen. This deep Zen state is referenced in the line: “When the Bodhisattva Guan-Zi-Zai was in the Deep Prajna Paramita…” Here, the “Deep Prajna Paramita” refers to a very deep Zen state. When Zen practitioners enter this profound meditative realm, they know that all things are empty. It is not clear whether they actu¬ally “see” with their eyes or a vision appears in their minds, but somehow they experience the truth about the nature of life and they understand the intersection of existence and non-existence. They see the origin of life, the Original Nature of all beings, and un-derstand that there is no difference between suffering and happiness. This state is called “qi” in Taoism. It has no inherent existence. Buddhism describes this as void but not ab¬solutely void in nature. The first paragraph in the Heart Sutra is meant to explain the origin and truth of everything.

This Zen vision, this profound state, is not imaginary and it is not derived by grasping. It just happens in the mind, in the conscious¬ness, and it results in a sudden revelatory un¬derstanding of life. This understanding may arrive as a vision or a feeling or both. But regardless of how it happens, it’s a moment of awakening. It’s like an “Aha!” feeling. Aha, this is how everything starts!

The State of Sariputra

According to history, Sariputra was a dis¬ciple of Buddha. But the word Sariputra can refer to more than an individual. In this instance, it refers to the state of deep medi¬tation through which one is totally liberated by the realization that “form does not dif¬fer from void and void does not differ from form.” Buddha called practitioners of deep Zen “Sariputra.”

In the Heart Sutra, Sariputra is described as “non-arising, non-ceasing, non-pure, non-defiled, non-increasing, non-decreasing.” It can be further elaborated as non-up, non-down, non-left, non-right, non-male, non-female, non-void and non-form. In China, the beautiful bodhisattvas in the ancient Dunhuang Mogao Caves, depicted in fresco and sculpture, are non-male and non-female. Many have overlooked this fact. But please don’t worry about turning non-male and non-female as a result of embarking on a spiritual path. We simply become more cen¬tered, loving life without desire and greed.

Now I’m touching upon another topic: Why do human beings have desires? Because we were born either male or female. This separation of gen¬der creates sexual desire out of which other kinds of desire arise.

However, not all suffering related to emo¬tion originates from desire. For example, if someone hurts you by being verbally abu¬sive, would your hurt have anything to do with desire? Possibly not. But once we are separated by gender, those sexual differences be¬come a source of desire in a major way.

So the Sariputra, the Zen practitioner, lives in a state free of desire or greed: “Form does not differ from void.”

True Freedom

The state of Sariputra is a state of true free¬dom. But how should we acknowledge and understand this in the context of daily real¬ity?

Let me tell you a Zen story. Two Zen monks, disciples of the same master, wanted to cross a river one day. At the same time, a young woman wanted to cross. There was no bridge over the river and the stepping stones had been submerged by heavy rain. The woman didn’t know what to do, since in ancient Chi¬na, especially during the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, women were not al¬lowed to show their feet or legs – doing so would risk their good reputation.

The woman was hesitating at the river’s edge when the two monks came upon her. When the younger disciple caught sight of her, he thought: “She is quite beautiful and thus I should keep my distance from her because I’m a monk.” The elder disciple, however, went over to the woman: “Madam, do you want to cross?” The woman sighed: “Yes, but I can’t. The stones are submerged.” The elder disciple said: “If you don’t mind, I can carry you to the other side.” The woman was overjoyed. “Thank you! My mother is sick and I must visit her. I’m grateful for your help.” So the elder disciple carried the young woman on his back.

A year later, the younger disciple asked the elder one: “Did you think she was pretty, the one you carried that day?” The elder an¬swered: “She was fine.” The younger asked: “Was she heavy?” “Not heavy, not light.” “Was her skin smooth?” “I didn’t pay at¬tention.” Then the younger disciple said: “We’re monks. Don’t you think that perhaps you violated the vows?” The elder replied: “No, I don’t think so.” “Really? But I saw that you were happy carrying her on your back.” “Yes, I was happy to help her. But I put her down a year ago, yet you’re still car¬rying her. Aren’t you tired?”

From this story, we can see that the older monk is in a state of “form does not differ from void, void does not differ from form,” a state of true freedom, a state of Sariputra, which is free from any discrimination, from attachment to desire or greed. For the older monk, helping the lady was just an act of ser¬vice, that’s all. He wasn’t helping any-body to commit negative acts, such as car¬rying stolen goods for a thief, but rather he simply assisted a woman in crossing a river. He performed a deed of service. Nothing more, nothing less.

But the younger monk’s state of mind was focused on the differences between men and women, on sexual desire and greed. It is evident from the behavior of the younger monk that his mind was still impure, unlike that of the elder.

The Art of Being Flexible

An enlightened heart is flex¬ible, attuned to changing situations. Let’s return to a baby’s state of mind. When a baby crawls to a wall and is blocked by it, the child will turn away, choosing another direction. The baby won’t bang its head in an attempt to break through. But many adults metaphorically bang their heads against walls trying to change the unchangeable, es¬pecially the spiritual seekers. Many of them try to go through a wall or squeeze through a tiny opening. This is wrong. People must awaken and open their minds.

How many get stuck in their lives, unable to let go and move on? Mental blocks can create physical illness. So let us gradually integrate into the more ad¬vanced mental state described in the Heart Sutra, which will unlock wisdom. Once this occurs, you will perceive things in new ways and respond very differently than in the past. You will start to enter the state of “form does not differ from void and void does not differ from form.”

The State of Zero

Balance – Wisdom – Happiness

At Bodhi Meditation our slogan is: “Bodhi Meditation Brings Health.” To me, it’s “Bodhi Meditation Brings Happiness.”

Master Nicolas once tried to correct me. “Our slogan must use the word health because it’s practi¬cal.” But my response was: “It’s happiness that brings health.” Much illness is due to mental pain.

Happiness can create health. It reduces stress. Happiness is a natural state rather than a forced one. When your mind remains unattached to selfish desires or any object, it dwells in equilibrium, the Zero Point. Such a mind is like a balanced scale. The Zero Point to which I refer is denoted by a “0” in mathematics, “emptiness,” in Buddhism and “qi” (non-existence) in Taoism. However, the Zero Point is not nothingness. Two 1000 kg weights, each resting on opposite sides of a scale, create equilibrium but we can’t say there’s nothing there. That is why in the Chinese char¬acter “炁” there are four dots on the bottom, which are the weights to balance the scale at Zero, or equilibrium.

Only when the heart returns to peaceful de-tachment can the mind return to the Zero Point. It is through reducing attachment that we can dwell in this state. It’s not that you’ll “own” wisdom, but that you’ll re¬spond from a balanced place, adjusting the weights on each side of the scale.

Helping the Self, Helping Others

Facilitating High-Level Zen

The highest level of Zen is not necessarily the state of “void does not differ from form.” This state is not that easy to at¬tain. There are many methods that facilitate high-level Zen. Historically, multiple Zen masters created techniques to train people. But many methods have side effects. For in¬stance, certain techniques can result in the trainee’s energy getting stuck, and if energy gets stuck repeatedly all psychological pro¬tection will be destroyed. Once this occurs, the person may become mentally ill. Schizo¬phrenia is a common result. So please be careful, as not all methods are safe.

What we teach in Bodhi Meditation focuses on visualization, which is a safe and quick path to enlightenment. Through practice, it will gradually lead the mind to a liberated state. Body follows mind. Health comes naturally.

However, I’d like to remind everyone that you can’t rush your progress into an advanced state of mind. Regular meditation is vital to the process. It is a good idea to meditate at the same times each day. And consider helping others often.

Earn Trust

Many of my disciples have applied for per-mission to teach Bodhi Meditation in their communities, as they wish to enlighten oth-ers. However, many ordinary people associ-ate the word “enlighten” with death or going to Heaven. Personally, I feel that helping people instead of trying to “enlighten” them could be a more practical method of encouraging them toward the path to higher consciousness.

Therefore, focus on supporting others rather than concerning yourself with their spiritual condition. Helpful actions are the manifesta-tions of a loving heart.

When we set out to help people, we must be patient as trust develops. But what we can do immediately is start facing the world with love. This doesn’t mean that you fall in love with everyone you meet, but simply that you express kindness. If you begin from a place of genuine care for others, you will certainly be helpful to them.

According to the sutra, “enlightenment” means helping people cross the sea of suf-fering and attain freedom. How do we help people cross over? Is there a bridge? Human life is a vast sea of suffering and liberation seems very far away. The means of traveling across it is a metaphorical ship. You become the ship, and you become the captain, helping to ferry people to the other side, where hap-piness lies. Without trust, though, it’s hard to get people on board. It is a time-consuming process, earning peo¬ple’s trust. People need time to be convinced. Once trust is present, people will accept your counsel.

Ask Buddha for Help

Access Inner Wisdom

Jesus and Buddha used to live in the world and people met them. People respected them and called them deity names. However, the people who met them have long since died, and those who’ve come after sometimes doubt the existence of those great teachers. Doubt is natural, the result of karma. In ev¬ery generation, there are people who believe in Jesus or Buddha, while others don’t.

Humans believe what they can see. Howev-er, during a magic show your eyes are tricked by the magician. We must view everything with an open mind. An open mind unlocks wisdom.

Inspiration from the Buddha

You might find it strange, but inspirational revelations come in two ways: through think-ing and non-thinking. Some of you already understand this. How do you apply this truth to daily life? I’ll share with you a way taught by Guanyin. This way is suit¬able only to meditation practitioners and be¬lievers.

If you get stuck in a dilemma or feel con-fused about something, and you don’t know what to do, take a quiet moment by yourself. Settle into a calm state, and ask for help from Buddha. Simply tell the Buddha about your issue and ask for advice. Let Buddha decide when the answer comes. Then let the matter drop and return to your daily routine. Keep up your medita¬tion practice. Within three days, usually, a solu¬tion suddenly will come to mind. It will be the best possible solution. Such inspiration isn’t generated by your own thoughts. It’s from Buddha. It is a gift and it doesn’t require thought on your part.

Pay attention to it, and don’t analyze, be¬cause the solution, the inspiration, usually doesn’t seem logical. For instance, when a fire breaks out logic dictates that you extin¬guish it with water. However, the inspiration you receive through spiritual channels might suggest you let the fire be, or throw your coat on it, metaphorically speaking. Solutions received by spiritual means don’t adhere to the logic of the mind, but they are the best remedies. If a solution received spiritually resonates with you strongly, then trust in it and act on it.

During all my years of spreading dharma, I’ve encountered multiple challenges. How-ever, I never back away from a problem. Ev-ery time I experience difficulty I first calm my heart, no matter how troubling the prob-lem. When one is challenged, “form is void and void is form” becomes very useful. I tell myself that all trouble is illusion. But I still have to find a solution. For example, if I hit a man with my car then an accident has oc-curred and denying that fact doesn’t change it. The ambulance and the lawsuit will re¬mind you that it happened. And you’ll have to face it.

During all my years of helping people, I’ve encountered difficulty nearly every day. Big problems arise every three months and huge problems perhaps every three years. Thus far, the huge problems could have cost me my life. But I’ve survived by spiritual means. The inspiration I’ve been grant¬ed is not from thought, but rather is a gift. We must keep kind hearts in order to receive such inspiration. Because it doesn’t spring from logic, it doesn’t make sense to one who analyzes it. Such wisdom is a blessing.

Generosity Enriches Life

The compassion in my heart prompts me to share my wisdom with you. This informa¬tion is usually kept secret by the people who have mastered it. But we embrace compassion. I’m very grateful to Buddha’s teachings and I sim¬ply follow in his footsteps. Buddha shared his enlightenment with all sentient beings and I’m inspired by his example.

I hope my talk has inspired you. I hope you understand that the more compassionate you are, that the more you give, the more you receive. If you are cruel or petty, true wealth will elude you. Conversely, generosity will enrich you, filling you with creative energy. This life force will be sustaining, and passed from one generation to the next.

Meditation & Health #4 Contents