Without a Compass and a T-square, You Can@t Draw Circles and Squares

A talk given by Venerable Master Hua

Even if you cannot endure the pain, you still must endure it. Don't be afraid of pain,
and don't be running about everywhere, or you won't be able to attain samadhi.

During a Chan Session, everyone should understand and abide by the rules. Before the wooden fish is struck, no one should casually wander around. If you do not abide by the rules and follow instructions, then you are a transgressor of the rules. Everyone should follow the rules in the Chan Hall. At the end of the silent sitting meditation period, the cantor should check that everyone has put on their shoes before hitting the hand bell. Once, everyone has stood up, he should hit the wooden fish twice. Even once people have stood up, no one should start walking until the wooden fish is struck twice. These are very simple rules which all of you should know. If you hit the wooden fish immediately at the end of the silent sitting meditation, some people may have not stood up yet, so how can they walk? It is fine to wait for another three minutes. Some people's legs get numb from sitting; they can barely stand up, much less to walk. These are general knowledge in the Chan Hall everyone should know.

I know of some people who have cried from leg pain when sitting in meditation. That's totally useless. The more you cry, the more it hurts. Your legs won't say, "Since you cried, we'll stop hurting." People are generally under the impression that sitting in Chan at our place is a very good thing. Actually, when they come here, they have to suffer. "Very good" also means "very bitter." We get up a little after two o'clock in the morning, rest for only one hour during the day, and don't go to sleep until midnight. Getting only two to three hours of rest every day, you could say we're applying effort with total disregard for our lives. That is called "renouncing death in lieu of life".

If you cannot give up death, you won't
be able to exchange it for life.
If you can't give up the false, you won't
be able to realize the truth.

If you cannot withstand suffering, you will not get to enjoy blessings. If you want to attain true skills, you must patiently endure suffering and toil diligently--grit your teeth and bear the pain in your legs. Actually, it can be pain-free. Nevertheless, we want to be in some sort of pain, so we endure the pain in our legs. "Enduring what people cannot endure" refers to this type of endurance. If you cannot bear the pain, then you have not passed the test. You have to overcome all the checkpoints in your body. These checkpoints refer to the points of pain and discomfort in your body that makes you miserable. When you have reached a point where you can endure it and not become afflicted, that is a type of skill you have gained. If you cannot endure it, you have failed the test. Some people who come here cannot even take it for a day before running away. You have all been here for so many days--that is not easy.

Girls are especially afraid of pain, and the fact that they have been here bearing so much suffering means they will certainly plant deep good roots. In the future their Bodhi seeds will sprout and bear the Bodhi fruit. As said, "Your effort will not be in vain." However much effort you put in here equates to how much benefit you will reap. You will not be wasting your time at all.

In cultivating the Way, you must have "patience with production"--that is, you must patiently endure what you cannot endure. "Patience with dharmas" means you must be patient with the arising and cessation of all dharmas. Even if you cannot endure the pain, you still must endure it. Don't be afraid of pain, and don't run about everywhere, or you won't be able to attain samadhi. You must regard all dharmas as empty; see through them and put them down. From patience with production and patience with dharmas, you can then attain patience with non-production and non-existence of dharmas. As said, "Not seeing the arising of the slightest dharma; not seeing the cessation of the slightest dharma", you can patiently bear it in your mind.

(The End of the Article)