The Seventh Phase of Meditative Development by Master Sheng-Yen

HARMONIZING THE MIND So here we are. We have come to the last phase of Master Sheng-Yen's teaching: No-Self, No-Mind. My hope is that you have honestly put the effort into practicing each month's instructions.I started writing these essays with the intent of sending them off to the editor of our newsletter within a reasonable time period. Then I came to this month's instructions and realized that I needed to go back to the cushion and deepen my understanding of what Master Sheng-Yen is revealing to us.That was two and a half month's ago. And though I do not claim to thoroughly understand the Master's teaching, can I shed light from a different angle? Can I adequately utilize the written word to describe a state of being that transcends words? May wisdom light your path and guide you to Truth. SEVEN PHASES OF MEDITATIVE DEVELOPMENT by Sheng-Yen 7. No-Self, No-Mind In the seventh diagram there is no line of concentration, no thought, no mark of any kind. Body, mind, and environment have all genuinely disappeared. Time and space are blown apart, and any sense of existence or nonexistence has vanished. You have entered a realm of emptiness and quiescence, a realm that transcends all subjective emotion and point of view. This is the experience of supramundane samadhi and wisdom of ''no-mind'' that is free of the defiling illusion of self. THERE IS NO WAY TO EFFECTIVELY DESCRIBE IT (emphasis added). All words and images are useless but you will have tasted true freedom and peace.

Just as with the experience of mundane samadhi, you should be aware that there are also many levels of supramundane samadhi and many degrees of insight into no-mind or no-self. Sometimes the influence of the root illusions and defilements is merely lessened or temporarily suspended. Sometimes it is severed, but only to a partial degree. In all these cases, the insight of emptiness or no-mind will qualitatively be the same, but the intensity and clarity will vary. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sitting there on the cushion, she settles into her posture just as the bowl is sounded to signal the morning period of Zazen. Doing a quick body scan to mindfully facilitate the relaxing of it, she settles into awareness of breath and finds that with each round of in and out breaths she becomes more and more transparent until suddenly, there is nothing. Then, just as suddenly, the bowl is sounded once more to signal the period of Zazen is over. She glances at her wristwatch thinking there must be some kind of mistake. Is it possible that 45 minutes have went by already? Yes. Sitting there quietly as the cloud of confusion dissipates, she mentally begins to review the meditation period. She remembers being aware of the in and out breaths and then...what? She has no idea and right there in that not-knowing, standing at the threshold of the gateless gate, everything stopped. She could go no further, so she stopped trying. What went past the sacred portal to become What has always been? Absolutely nothing!

Coming back to the present moment, she intuitively knows that she will never cross that threshold and with the knowing a peaceful joy arises letting her know that it's the way it should be. And with the joy comes a resting into What she has always been ~ everything and nothing. Like a drop of water that returns to the Ocean a flame in the midst of fire. And, dear brothers and sisters of the Buddha's Way, Everything is complete in and of Itself. There's no room for who you think you are to occupy Completeness. Such a joyful truth!

Let me, however, give you a word of caution. As wonderful as such an experience is, the journey is far from over. 'To encounter the Absolute is not yet enlightenment', a wise sage once wrote in a poem. The Truth of your life MUST be lived THROUGH your life, AS your life. You are Life expressing Itself! And Life awaits you...completely give up your self to Self. It's worth it!


In Gassho,


Horaku