Q Could Grand Master Shan-Fo explain the principle of Chi-Kung from a scientific point of view?
A The scientific principles of Chi-Kung should be best explained by human life scientists and parapsychologists. Human life sciences only emerged in the late twentieth century. Several years ago, a human life sciences research institute was established in Shenzhen University, China. Such institutes have also been established in the USA, Japan, Germany and Russia. The goal is to find ways to develop human potential to the fullest and make good use of it for humanitarian purposes. In China, medical Chi-Kung masters collaborate with traditional Chinese medical doctors, western doctors and scientists in conducting Chi-Kung research. For example, Master Yan Xin, one of the China’s top ten Qi Gong masters, cooperated with physicists and chemical engineers in joint Chi-Kung experiments at Qinghua University. The energy he emitted was detected using devices such as particle detectors to display its wavelength and frequency on an oscilloscope. Also, a Kirlian camera was used to capture the visible emission of his energy. Various colors, gold, yellow, white, red and others, were detected. Different wavelengths (frequencies) of emissions correspond to different colors. The emitted energy of Master Yan Xin was recorded by such techniques. Some of the pictures showed that his light energy appeared in straight line(s), curved traces, or a whole layer of color. On occasions, even a regular camera can capture the emitted visible light energy. These phenomena are classified as wave mechanics, in the physics terminology.
In the Einstein’s famous formula E = mc^2, E represents energy, m is mass and c is the constant of the speed of light. This formula states the quantitative relationship of transformation between matter and energy. Once the matter is being transformed, that energy can be subsequently emitted in the form of light energy. We all know that light energy can be converted into heat. Therefore, when a patient is under remote healing therapy he/she may feel warm, cold, numb or tingling sensations. The healing Chi energy may not be visible to the patience’s naked eye, the feeling of those sensations is real. Long distance remote healing from ten thousand kilometers away could be done in an instant because Chi energy can travel at a speed faster than thirty thousand kilometers per second. Therefore, human life sciences will be the cutting edge science and technology of the 21st century.
Q What exactly is Chi-Kung?
A Chi-Kung is a means which we can utilize to develop our innate power (life force) through proper training. It also allows us to clear and open the Chi energy channels of our body resulting in a healthier physical condition. With the Chi energy cultivated one can use it to generate a strong energy field for remote healing. One can emit the energy to the infected area of a patient to strengthen his/her energy level resulting in a healing effect. Therefore, Chi-Kung can enhance one’s health as well as heal others.
Q What is the relationship between Zen and physical well being?
A It is known that illnesses such as cardiac disease, stomach ulcers and insomnia are related to stress. Subjecting one to too much pressure for too long will place one’s physical condition in a state of detrimental stress. Then certain illnesses are bound to happen. That is beside losing sleep at night. The Chi energy channels can be blocked due to the fact that we ingest a great deal of toxins and pollutants, food preservatives, chemicals, and meat containing highly undigestible fats. All of these things interfere with our health.
During Zen meditation, our bodies and the skin pores are in a relaxed condition, therefore the toxins and impure Chi energy can be expelled from our body. That will result in improving our energy and blood circulation which in turn helps our metabolism. Furthermore, tension is greatly diminished. Many physical and mental ailments related to stress will automatically be relieved. Because of this, Zen meditation is increasingly popular nowadays. It is also quite popular in the Japanese corporate world.
During meditation a Zen practitioner will relinquish or momentarily, at least, forget all mental attachments, desires, passions, fear and worries. When a person is anxious or depressed, his/her body will automatically produce toxins. Without worries, etcetera, the body will no longer produce toxins.
Q Why doesn’t our Government give higher recognition to Chi-Kung?
A Historically, our government’s health policy placed emphasis on the development of western medicine some forty years ago. Traditional Chinese medicine such as acupuncture has only seen a resurgence in recent times. Chi-Kung has always been associated with and developed by folk people and hence treated as part of our culture. So our government has never played a role in its development. In Mainland China, however, the situation is quite different. The father of China’s aerospace science and technology, Mr. Qian Xue-Shen, proclaimed that the benefits of Chi-Kung development would lead human beings to the third industrial revolution. Consequently, China has launched a large scale research effort involving Chi-Kung masters, physicists, life science specialists, chemical engineers, traditional Chinese and Western medical doctors. That is why they accomplished many astonishing findings on Chi-Kung research. In each major city of China there is always a Chi-Kung research facility and a Chi-Kung therapeutic clinic. Each province has its own central Chi-Kung research institute. In Taiwan, our government has not yet appropriated any budget or provided systematic means for research related to Chi-Kung.
Chi-Kung practice existed in China for thousands of years. It is clear that it must have definite value. We sincerely hope that our government will make funds available to establish a scientific research institute for systematic investigations of Chi-Kung and its impact on humanity.
Q What are the differences between Mahayana Zengong and other schools?
A Mahayana Zengong is a systematic progressive teaching which enables one to realize the true nature of the mind, the Self-nature. The principal teachings of mind development are based on Buddhist doctrines. Zen meditation is the method of practice and Chi-Kung is a complementary means.
In terms of practice, it is the unification of body and mind. There are eight levels of mind development and nine levels of physiological cultivation. The first, second and third levels of the physiological aspect belong to Chi-Kung practices. The first level is the cultivation of harmony which emphasizes on the opening of all energy channels of the body. The second level is to train the ability to absorb cosmic energy, such as mountains, rivers, the sun and moon, and the emission of Chi energy for healing purposes. The third level is the training that applies mental power to perform light empowerment for the benefit of all beings through the use of cosmic energy and the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Our teaching encompasses that of other Chi-Kung schools except the martial arts Chi- Kung. There are three types of medical (healing) Chi-Kung. The first type involves the cultivation of life energy. That can often be seen in Chinese martial arts movies where an injured person is healed by another person who places his palms on the injured person’s back and transmits his own Chi energy to heal the injured one. After some times later, the injured person is seen to have recovered while the healer is exhausted or has collapsed. So, ordinary Chi channeling has therapeutic effects, but at the expense of depleting the energy of the healer. Once the stored Chi energy is consumed, it is difficult to quickly replenish it. The energy level of most Chi-Kung healers or therapists is limited to this level.
The second type of medical Chi-Kung uses mind energy. In this case, the individual must practice Chi-Kung and Zen meditation where one achieves a deep state of mental concentration. The wavelength and frequency of the emitted mental energy can be detected/monitored by scientific equipments. Both the Taiwan University Hospital and Yangming Hospital have such equipment. Healing utilizing mind energy is far more effective than that using Chi energy. The frequency of the mind energy is higher than that of the Chi energy.
The third type is the super mind energy. The necessary condition is that a practitioner must achieve advanced level in Buddhist practices and be able to manifest his/her dharmakaya to pervade the universe. If one can extend this dharmakaya to twenty thousand kilometers, then he/she can perform healing to a patient within the range of twenty thousand kilometers.
Mahayana Zengong teachings offer the life energy and Chi energy practices which are also available in most of the Chi-Kung schools. However, the cultivations of mind and super mind energy are unique of ours. One can hardly find them being publicly offered anywhere else.
Q I had previously practiced Chi-Kung but have not done so for quite some time. Now during sleep, I find that my body shakes, why?
A It is known as Chi movement. It may occur to Chi-Kung practitioners who fulfil the following three conditions. The first is that the Dan Tien has sufficient energy. The second is that the Chi energy channels of the body has been opened/cleared to a certain level. And, the third is that the entire body is completely relaxed. Your whole body is in a state of relaxation during sleep. At such time, the Chi energy in your Dan Tien area will freely flow around body. If the Chi energy is strong and powerful, the body will shake or tremble. This is what is commonly known as Chi movement. There is nothing to be afraid of and it is normally under one’s voluntary control. All you have to do is to think or tell yourself to stop and it will.
Q I have a friend who channelled Chi energy to a person three times. My friend told that person that he (the person) could in turn channel Chi energy to others if he wanted to. Is this really beneficial to our physical well being? Is it true that only Tibetan Tantric Buddhism has this practice or method?
A No, this is not solely the practice of Tantric Buddhism. As long as a person has sufficient Chi energy, he/she can channel or emit it to others. This practice falls within the scope of our medical Chi-Kung. Nowadays, remote healing utilizing Chi energy is very popular in mainland China. Channeling Chi into others by directly contacting the person’s body is classified as Chi energy channeling. If the process of channeling Chi is performed without physical contact it is then classified as mind energy transmission. That normally requires mind power and implies that Zen meditation training is necessary. Mahayana Zengong is expert in this field. Now back to your question, if you have received Chi channeling three times can you then channel Chi to others? No, this is not recommended! In order to perform Chi channeling you must have practiced Zen meditation and Chi-Kung and should have sufficient Chi energy in your Dan Tien. Also, your body’s energy channels must be opened and cleared and you should be able to absorb nature’s energy. That is, your consumed energy can be restored by absorbing cosmic energy after you perform Chi channeling. Otherwise, you could be physically harmed if the lost energy cannot be restored in time. Further, you should not just let any person perform Chi channeling to you. For example, if the Chi energy of that person is negative or impure, it will not be beneficial to you even if that person has very strong Chi energy. The method of energy channeling, transmission or empowerment, is not the monopoly of Tantric Buddhism. The teaching can be found in many Chi-Kung and Zen schools, and of course in Mahayana Zengong.
Q What is Zen?
A First of all, Zen can be divided into mundane (or worldly Zen) and supra-mundane Zen. Mundane Zen can be described as the sitting meditation of Taoism. The practice of sitting meditation can open and clear the Chi channels of our whole body and can provide complete physical and mental relaxation. As a result, it will alleviate many physical ailments and hence improve our health. Therefore, it has also been called “Health Zen.” Supra-mundane Zen, on the other hand, concerns more the spiritual development and is highly revered among Zen Buddhists. Cha’n (Zen) is the phonetic translation of the Sanskrit word “dhyana”. It has three meanings; 1) discarding evil, 2) absorption, and 3) contemplation. First, it means “to discard evil”, namely, to abandon and avoid all evil, all unwholesome actions. Secondly, absorption is a state of one-pointed meditation. It also means to think silently inside the mind. The third one is contemplation meaning utilizing a designated word or thought for the purpose of spiritual cultivation. This is equivalent to the practice of koans in Zen School. Cultivating this method will eventually lead to the realization of “non-appearance”. The Sixth Patriarch of Zen School once stated: “the true meaning of Zen is able to free from concepts of appearances”. All six sense objects belong to appearance. Thus, Zen is to be able to relinquish one’s conceptual ideas about appearances of all things.
Q Will one lose one’s ambition after practicing Zen for sometime ?
A No, definitely not. Practicing Zen does not mean that the practitioner must give up everything. “Relinquishing attachments” does not mean throwing away all the objects to which these attachments are linked. That would be like “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” It simply means that you should relinquish emotional attachments. So when you gain something you will not be over excited. Conversely, when you lose something you will not feel that it is the end of the world. Both of these extremes signify a lack of functional stability which is what we are relinquishing. Zen practitioners will not become passive or pessimistic or without ambition. In fact through Zen practice they become more positive and enthusiastic about life. Because of the development of wisdom their lives take on new meaning, new perspectives and new horizons. For example, an artistic designer who has developed wisdom will produce more creative work than before. He/She will earn more money than he/she previously did. There is nothing wrong in wanting to be successful, earn more money or get promoted to a higher position. The point is that even if we could not achieve what we expected, we do not lose sleep or our appetite over it. And, if we do acquire what we want, we will never flaunt and abuse it. Zen practice will allow one to achieve emotional and spiritual liberation and to eradicate all worries, fears, anxieties and defilements. It does not mean giving up the will to win or living without purpose, ambition or enthusiasm.
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Q What are the differences between sitting and standing Zen meditations?
A There is no difference in their objectives since Zen means to be able to let go and to see the true reality of things. From this point of view they are the same no matter what form of Zen meditation whether it is sitting, standing, or reposing Zen. However, the results of these different practices can be different for each individual. Sitting Zen meditation is usually more efficacious than the standing Zen because sitting is more relaxed and comfortable than standing. In standing Zen the practitioner must be in a standing posture that places the body weight on the feet. In addition, he/she may fall down should the practitioner become sleepy while practicing standing meditation. There is more chances of becoming drowsy in the sitting Zen meditation. In all cases, however, there are more advantages in sitting Zen meditation. That is why sitting Zen is more popular than standing Zen.
Q What does “opening the Microcosmic Orbit channel” mean?
A The Microcosmic Orbit pathway consists of two major channels: the Ren (Conception or front meridian) and the Du (Governor or back meridian) channels. The Ren channel runs from the back of the upper palate of the mouth traveling down the front of the body and terminates at the perineum. The Du Channel runs from the perineum traveling up and along the inner side of the spine into the Crown (Bai Hui point) of the head and terminates at the upper palate of the mouth. Therefore, when one practices Zen meditation, his/her tip of the tongue should lightly touch the upper palate of the mouth to bridge/connect both the Ren and Du Channels. By doing so it will keep the Microcosmic Orbit pathway open. Once these two major channels are cleared and connected, the vital Chi energy circulation will be enhanced throughout the entire body.
Q I have been practicing meditation for quite a while but still do not experience any warm sensation in my Dan Tien. Why is that? Also, there are people who claim that they are able to open other person’s Ren and Du channels. Is that possible?
A In order to have a warm sensation in the Dan Tien, your daily energy expenditure must be compensated for and outweighed by the energy absorbed. If your working hours are too long or you are tired, the chances are that your reserved energy may be exhausted. If this is the case, the Chi energy could not be amassed in the Dan Tien no matter how much you meditate. Or, if your mind is easily distracted or you can not concentrate well on the Dan Tien, then you will not be able to get a warm feeling in your Dan Tien. Regarding your second question, it is important to distinguish between those who have and have not practiced Chi-Kung before. For those who have previously practiced Chi-Kung but whose Chi energy is not strong enough to open the Microcosmic Orbit pathway, it is possible to have the Microcosmic Orbit opened with help from Chi-Kung masters. A Chi-Kung master can channel his Chi energy into the individual to strengthen the Chi energy in the Dan Tien. For there who have never practiced Chi-Kung before they have insufficient Chi energy in the Dan Tien and do not understand how to run the energy circulation of the Microcosmic Orbit pathway. For them a Chi-Kung master’s assistance in Chi channeling by may result in a temporary sensation of Chi energy. However, the channeled Chi energy will quickly diminish or disappear because the Chi pathway was not really opened. So it is virtually impossible to open the Microcosmic Orbit pathway through Chi channeling unless one has previously taken up proper Chi-Kung training.
Q Do I need to light incense, hold hand mudras, and/or recite the “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra during meditation? Why does my body shake during meditation? What is the best time to practice meditation and what is the proper duration for each meditation session?
A There are advantages to light incense during meditation. It is best to use a high quality incense because that can prevent drowsiness and keep us alert and wakeful. Certain types of incense can even help getting rid of the negative Chi energies. Both the “OK” mudra or the dhyani mudra (both hands form the OK mudra and one hand is placed on top of the other) will be helpful in your meditative concentration. Om Mani Padme Hum is the heart mantra of Kuan- Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara, the Great Compassionate Goddess of Mercy). The purpose of reciting the mantra is to purify one’s own mind. As a result, it will be easier for the practitioner to reach a deeper state of meditation. Body shaking during meditation is known as Chi movement. Chi energy in the Dan Tien becomes strengthened if you place your mind at your Dan Tien during meditation. The Chi energy will then travel around the body. When the body is in a state of total relaxation, the body can experience swaying motions, for example, back and forth, left and right, or up and down. This stage of Chi movement is normal and it will stop after a certain period of time. Regarding the best time to practice meditation, in general any time is a good time for meditation. However, the following times should be avoided: during thunder storms; under extreme emotion, when over excited, anxious, or agitated; or after eating too much food. The duration for a meditation session depends on the individual practitioner and varies from person to person. If you are agitated and want to get up after five minutes of meditation, we recommend you do so. If you are not in a good mood or do not feel like meditating, then don’t. If you try to force yourself to meditate anyhow, you may suffer bad karmic consequences. If you feel numb in the legs it is best not to continue the meditation. So, the duration of the meditation depends on the individual’s meditative power and the physical conditions.
Q What is the differences between sitting meditation and Zen meditation? I am told that it is possible to become psychologically or emotionally disturbed by practicing Zen meditation. Therefore, they offer “burning-golden-paper” during Zen meditation in the temples. Why is that so?
A “Sitting meditation” is a generic term and is also used in Taoism. Generally speaking, “sitting mediation” inclines more towards the mundane Zen with its applications mainly in improving one’s health, relieving stress, and exorcising evil spirits. The way of conducting meditation is by sitting quietly without thoughts that will allow one to achieve a relaxed body and peaceful mind. The Chi energy will thus be strengthened and become more abundant and be able to freely flow through all energy channels. On the other hand, “Zen meditation” mainly emphasizes on the aspect of supra-mundane Zen. The goal is to awaken the mind and realize one’s innate Buddha nature. The Sixth Patriarch of the Zen school once said: “The true meaning of Zen is free from any appearances.” That is, our six sense faculties don’t interact with the six sense objects. An accomplished Zen practitioner will not develop craving or aversion towards any sense objects. Thus, one is liberated from emotional vexation and habitual defilements, a spiritual liberation! This is Zen meditation. Regarding your second question, the “burning-golden-paper” is an offering to spirits. It is a common practice in Taoism. They would normally make such offering before a meditation session to please the spirits and request them not to disturb the meditators. It is important to have good motivation and a proper meditation method. Otherwise, one may suffer ill-fated karmic consequences. This might happen if one practices meditation for the purpose of attaining supernatural powers, pursuing fame and fortune, or recklessly practicing to attempt the immediate attainment of liberation. The possible results may be adversity and/or aberration of Chi energies and/or mental disturbances. Practitioners who have heavy negative karma more easily suffer mental disturbances. During meditation they may see self-deception images, ghosts, spirits, sneaks, and horrible scenes. Without knowing how to deal with these types of mental deception, they may become nervous and even panic. As a result, they may frequently be subjected to the “walk-in” of spirits and may behave like mental patients. So those people having heavy negative karma should initially avoid Zen meditation until their karmic debts are either paid off or reduced substantially. As for average practitioners, they can easily avoid any possible mental disturbances by remembering the following tips. For example, should any (good and/or bad) images appear during meditation, it is most important to remain focussed on the meditation and not be influenced by the images. It does not matter what the nature or appearance of the images are, just observe them objectively without giving rise to any emotion or judgement. Remember, one should just remain in the state of meditation! The images will disappear naturally. However, should one find the images “too strong” or disturbing, one can open one’s eyes and the image will naturally disappear. Or, one can discontinue the meditation and take a break.
Q What are the different stages of Zen meditation?
A: The different stages of Zen meditation have been extensively discussed in the article “I am mountain, I am water”. Interested readers please refer to it.
Q I heard that Zen meditation practitioners can develop supernatural powers. What are they?
A There are the six supernatural powers, namely, divine sight, divine hearing, knowledge of others’ minds, knowledge of former and future lives, the ability to perform miracles, and perfect knowledge of all things. When one actualizes the first Bhumi of the Bodhisattva, attains the awakening mind, and realizes one’s Buddha nature, one will gradually develop such powers. In addition to Bodhisattvas, gods/goddesses and ghosts have supernatural powers as well. However, they only possess the first five supernatural powers listed above. With divine sight one is able to see distant objects and scenes even with their eyes closed. Divine hearing means one can hear distant sound which can’t normally be heard. During meditation, for example, one may be able to hear very distant sounds or extremely faint sounds. Knowledge of others’ minds means the ability to know other people’s minds without talking to them. A common term for this ability is telepathy. Knowledge of former and future lives is to know things and events of the past and the future. The ability to perform miracles means that the practitioner’s dharmakaya can freely leave the physical body. The perfect knowledge of all things means the practitioner has fully developed his/her primordial wisdom and has actualized complete liberation without any mental defilements. When one makes gradual progress in achieving the emptiness of mind and body during Zen meditation, the supernatural powers will accordingly display. Depending upon one’s spiritual development, the six supernatural powers will be gradually manifested one by one. It is to be noted that possession of supernatural powers, such as psychic mediums and ghosts, does not mean one has attained mind awakening and realization of Self-nature. For practitioners if such powers are used for mundane purposes, such as making improper money or harming others, negative karma will be created and hence retribution will follow. Under such circumstances it will be very difficult to make any advance in one’s spiritual evolution.
Q I would like to ask Grand Master Shan-Fo about a meditative experience which I don’t know how to deal with. Once when I meditated on the emptiness of mind and body I concentrated on the Bai Hui point (the crown chakra) and I saw images of ghosts. My pulses began racing faster. A moment later all I could see was the blue sky. At that point I became rather agitated and tried to move my body. But, I felt that my body wouldn’t move at all. After struggling for a while I did manage to move my body. Then suddenly I felt that life is indeed suffering and that the heaven, the earth and I were all unified as one inseparable entity. Could you explain this for me?
A Seeing ghost images and blue sky indicates that your faculty of eye sight is very sharp. Increasing the pulse rates shows that all your blood vessels and energy channels are mostly cleared. A practitioner whose heart wasn’t in good condition would experience faster heart beats when his/her Chi energy became stronger during meditation. Placing concentration on the head is not advisable. By so doing the Chi energy will flow to the head and stay there. As a result, one may feel that the head is swelling/bloating. If this happens over times there is a tendency for one to develop high blood pressure. You couldn’t move your body because you had entered a deep meditative state. There is nothing wrong with it. Don’t worry about it. You felt that life is truly painful indicates that your loving compassion begin to emerge, your Buddha nature begin to awaken, and your wisdom begin to open up. Finally, the experience of unifying the heaven, the earth and the Self as one is another level of meditative consciousness. Our dharmakaya originally pervades the limitless universe. We can’t experience its omnipresence and we can’t display all supernatural powers because we have erroneously come to obsess with the physical body identified as the “real I” or “true I”. You have reached an advanced state of consciousness where you can experience the unification with nature. Simply remain in the state of unity with nature! Don’t pay attention to whatever you see and experience. Don’t worry whether you can move your body or not. Let the mind be wakeful! If you continue your practice in this fashion your wisdom will develop to an even greater extent.
Q I have been practicing meditation for more than ten years. I had one meditative experience that I don’t know whether it was correct or not. When I practiced the emptiness of mind and body I was left with consciousness only and was able to see things which I couldn’t normally see even with my eyes opened. Then when I tried to look at the things closely, I couldn’t see anything. Why is that?
A This is quite an achievement for you. When you are able to achieve emptiness of both your mind and body and able to remain in a clear wakeful state, you have in fact attained the state of “no thoughts”. You have become “free from all external appearances.” Therefore, when your eyes are closed you can see things you normally can’t. Sometimes the scenes are real in the material world and sometimes they are illusory images. This ability indicates that your faculty of eye sight is becoming very sensitive. When you try to examine the scene or image, you were no longer in the state of “no thoughts”. It is quite normal that it just disappears. If you can maintain the meditative state of emptiness of mind and body for more than two hours, you will experience even deeper meditation.
Q I heard that during Zen meditation one’s soul may leave his/her body, what is that all about?
A “The soul leaving the body” is a generic expression. In Taoism the usual phrase is “the emergence of the Yang spirit” or “the emergence of the Yin spirit.” In Buddhism we use the term “actualization of the Dharmakaya.” This means that after one has actualized the dharmakaya, his/her dharmakaya (soul, spiritual truth body) is free to leave the body. The dharmakaya can freely come and go without any hindrance and obstruction. There are several different situations regarding “the soul leaving the body”. For example, it happens when a person has just passed away and his/her soul has separated from the body. Or, in a fatal car accident the person’s soul is leaving his/her body. Or, the person can see his/her own body undergoing emergency resuscitation in a hospital. In the U.S. this corresponds to the well documented “out of body experience”. If the soul knows that it should re-enter his/her body, he/she will become “revived” or become resuscitated. If the soul doesn’t know or doesn’t want to re-enter the body, he/she will be declared “dead”. One other example is the drug addict. In a state of hallucination and confusion the soul may separate from the body and if the soul can’t find its way back, the drug addict will die. For Zen practitioners if they don’t understand and don’t know how to deal with this meditative situation, it may prove to be dangerous and troublesome. So in taking up meditation practice it is important to receive guidance from a realized teacher or experienced practitioner. According to Taoism, if a practitioner still has a strong self-centered ego and habitual defilements, then his/her “emerging soul” is called “emergence of the Yin spirit”. This is because the Yin polarity is associated with the negative aspect of things, e.g., energy. Here the emerged soul can see many inconceivable things but with limited supernatural powers. If the practitioner’s ego, attachment, and karma have significantly diminished then it is called “emergence of the Yang spirit.” Because only very limited Yin energies are present, the supernatural powers of the practitioner will be substantially improved. In Buddhism this realization is called “actualization of the Dharmakaya”. Before this stage it is called “actualization of the pseudo-Dharmakaya” which is equivalent to the emergence of Yin/Yang spirit in Taoism. At this stage, it is a must that the soul remembers to return to its body and not to be seduced by worldly passions or lost in illusory environs. For example, if the spirit sees three people gambling and joins them to make pairs in gambling, and then forgets to return to its body. Serious karmic consequences may immediately occur. The soul must be “wise” enough to always return to the body. As soon as the thought of returning to the body arises it will spontaneously happen. Then, there is nothing to worry about.
Q How does it feel when the soul leaves the body?
A Generally speaking, after one has been in deep meditation for more than one and a half hours and both the mind and body are in the state of emptiness, the dharmakaya will automatically become active. A very strong rush of energy can be felt to push upwards and emerge from the top of the head. When that happens the soul emerges from the body.
Q Please tell me the meaning of “One will feel a strong energy flow by practicing inward introspection” and how to do it?
A The practice of introspection is to look from within and be mindful with the Self. Looking inward is to look at your Self-nature. Listening inward is to listen to your Self-nature. Thus, inward introspection will illuminate your Self-nature. Thus, if a thought of looking inward arises, there will be a concurrent flow of energy since energy follows thought. If one attains a meditative state in which one can forget about the thought after it arises, one can then see the self-body displayed as a clear, transparent, luminous, intangible body. Furthermore, if one is free from conceptual thoughts of introspection, luminous Self-nature, inner or outer world, etcetera, then the internal dharmadhatu and the external dharmadhatu will dissolve together and become one indivisible Dharmadhatu. Within the range of the Dharmakaya all things become oneness. The range will extend further as one makes more progress in his/her meditation practice. This realization is called realization of one’s Buddha nature.
Q What is the meaning of realization of one’s Self-nature and attainment of enlightenment?
A These are the goals that a Zen practitioner strives to achieve. The Zen Master, Venerable Chao Zhou once said: “I have experienced three great realizations and countless minor realizations.” The Zen school has three gates of passage and three great realizations. Breaking thought the barrier of ignorance is realization of the Self-nature. The first gate of passage corresponds to the first great realization which is the initial stage of seeing the Self-nature. The second gate of passage corresponds to “free from the endless cycle of rebirth”. This is for practitioners who attain higher than the eighth Bhumi level of the Bodhisattva. In his/her reincarnation he/she shall retain the wisdom and virtue of the past life and will never become deluded. The final gate of passage is Nirvana which corresponds to the supreme enlightenment of Buddhas. Realization can be divided into two stages, the first is true comprehension of the “principle of enlightenment” and the second is actualization of enlightenment. The initial stage of realization means a true understanding, true comprehension that I have the sugatagarbha essence, which is beyond birth and death, which is omnipresent, and which pervades the dharmadhatu. That I have the Buddha nature. That I can attain the Buddhahood. The second stage is when one truly realizes what is the Buddha nature. That person will not easily retrograde in his/her spiritual development. It isn’t common for enlightened people to retrograde, although it does sometimes happen. Only when a practitioner attains the eighth Bhumi level of the Bodhisattva (it is also called the land of Unwavering) will the individual never retrograde. Those who have ascertained some realization may not have necessarily seen their Buddha nature. To actually see one’s Buddha nature means one has attained the first Bhumi level of the Bodhisattva. It means that one breaks through the barrier of primordial ignorance and sees the face of true reality. It refers to the awakening of the mind, the realization of one’s true Self- nature, and actualization of the Dharma nature. It is a true vision that sees the True Reality of things and the true reality of life. All things, appearances and phenomena, that we see right
now, are illusory. All things have no inherent, independent existence. What I see in you and you see in me are all illusion, unreal identity. They are in fact all derived from our false views which result from the functioning of our eye faculty. Since the beginningless time we have labored under two false views, the first being the individualized false view and the second being the common false view. The former means that every one sees a given thing differently. What you see is different from what I see because what you see is based on your false view which is different from mine. The common false view means the false views are shared by all people involved. All of us living on this planet have a common karma and as such all develop false views. Seeing one’s Buddha nature results from the development of the true, pure vision. It isn’t a result of the faculty of our physical eyes through which distorted and false views are derived. The divine sight is a display of our exceptional function of the eye faculty. The things seen by it are still distorted, deluded views. The wisdom eye becomes manifested when practitioners attain the realization of Pratyekabuddhas or Arhats. Everything they see is the true reality of things which is pure, clear and has no inherent existence. The next will be the dharma and buddha visions where practitioners have achieved a state of “no thoughts”, “non-meditation”, and “no delusion”. Any appearances they see result from the display of true reality. At the spontaneous presence of nirvana, the presence of True Reality, the presence of sugatagarbha essence, you the practitioner will see the true nature of all appearances and phenomena. You become omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. Naturally there are many stages involved in the spiritual evolution. For example, there are ten Bhumis of the Bodhisattvas. For every Bhumi there are different levels involved in seeing the Buddha nature. The three levels are the entering, the stabilization, and perfection. Therefore, the initial goal is to actualize the Self-nature, the Buddha nature. True vision means the ability to see the dharma nature, the True Reality.