Building a bridge to enlightenment

A monk once asked Master Nanquan Puyuan (Jap. Nansen Fugan, 749-835): “There is a shining jewel in the sky. How can one fetch it?” Nanquan responded: “Cut down some bamboo stalks to build a bridge, then climb up the bridge to the sky to fetch it. The monk did not understand, and asked once more: “How can you build a ladder into the sky?”Nanquan asked him in turn: “If you don’t, how will you fetch it?”

The shining jewel in the sky is our own original nature. If you can awaken, enlighten your mind and see your true nature, you can obtain the jewel. But if you think of relying on some artificial help from outside to become enlightened, it is just like wasting your energy on building a bridge to fetch a jewel in the sky-- which is ultimately a waste of effort. Chan Master Nanquan challenged the monk to seek the way to his true Self.

Our Chan practice is called the Mind. What is it that is practicing Chan? It is the Mind.” What is the Mind? Normally we only know our body, but in reality, our Mind is meditating in this house of the body, so that we can enter into it, so that we can set our Mind free and let it become peaceful, luminous and liberated…..

This is the world of the Mind. It is subtle and true. Now we don’t understand the Mind that we possess, and therefore we need to practice Chan, need to rely on a method and a skill, to make Chan into a bridge that lets us enter our Mind, so that our Mind belongs to itself, rediscovers itself, and ultimately shows its original face.

What is the Mind? The nature of our Mind is like the sun, which shines from morning to night. Even though the night looks dark, the sun has never become dark; its nature is to be always shining, to always be there.

Chan practice can help us to develop the power of contemplation which fosters clarity and stillness. When feelings come up in us, Chan can help us to clearly observe them. And then we can follow up with the “One Minute Chan meditation”: “Put your palms together, take a deep breath, , relax, quiet down, let your Mind return to its origin.” This lets your Mind return to the present moment, connect with its inner power of silence and naturally rest in the here and now.

Silence means to contemplate our own Mind, our own heart; it does not mean to contemplate all the things and changes outside. When your Mind has quieted down, you will see its existence, its unlimited space. All your emotions will then evaporate like the dark clouds under the sun, and love will slowly blossom all around you. When every living being can be happy in the present moment, the resonance of tranquility will become a life-force that makes the universe harmonious and balanced.

The world can only be at peace when our heart and mind is at peace. When our mind only looks at the darkness, the light can never penetrate. Tranquility let us see the beauty and goodness of the world, and makes life luminous gain.

Patrick Teng