Being Greedy for the Flavor of Chan Is Wrong

A talk given by Venerable Master Hua on the evening of November 18, 1982, at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

Constantly waiting for the flavor of Chan makes you forget all about applying effort.

When you sit in Chan meditation, do not be greedy for the flavor of Chan. What is the flavor of Chan? It refers to the bliss of Dhyana. When you have sat long enough, you start experiencing a feeling of comfort and ease, and you may feel somewhat indolent. If you become greedy from this state of comfort and ease, it will be difficult for you to make progress. You will linger there, always trying to get back to the state of flavorful Chan. When the state goes away, you will chase after it, thinking, "When am I going to be in that type of state again? That state is devoid of the marks of a self, others, living beings, and life span; it is free of afflictions. It is a state of bliss and ease. I wonder when will I ever have that experience again." Then, you will keep on waiting for that wonderful experience to reoccur. You will be so focused on waiting, you will unnoticeably forget all about applying effort in your Chan meditation. That is what being attached to the flavor of Chan means. Cultivators of Chan meditation should be free of obstructions and hang-ups. They must be free of craving and seeking. They must be neither delighted nor depressed. They must have neither apprehension nor anxiety. They must regard their body the same way as empty space and the Dharma Realm. There should be no clinging to anything or craving for anything. The moment there is craving, you fall into a secondary level of truth. Below is a brief explanation of the states of the Four Dhyana Heaven.

First Dhyana Heavens (Ground of Joy Arising from Separation): Having separated from the afflictions of living beings, one brings forth the joy of "taking Dhyana bliss as food" and "filled with the joy of Dharma." Leaving the topsy-turvy confusion of living beings, one advances along the Bodhi path of the sages. Arriving at the First Dhyana isn't something you can fake nor claim for yourself. You need a Good and Wise Advisor to certify that you have indeed arrived at this state. There is one proof to attest whether or not you have reached this state, i.e. cessation of breathing. You do not inhale or exhale, even though you are not dead. This is known as entering the Samadhi of the First Dhyana. It is different from being asleep. You should not think that going to sleep is the same as entering samadhi. When you are sleeping, you continue to breathe, and you may even snore so loudly it distracts your neighbors. A Good and Wise Advisor can tell immediately whether or not your breath has stopped. If you say, "I feel like my breath has stopped!" that is falsification; you're faking it. If you know when you have stopped breathing, then you haven't even entered the First Dhyana! So do not sell bogus goods as the authentic brand. If I were to go into this in detail, there are lots of principles that could be talked about, and I could write a whole essay on this. But if I say too much, it only creates obstacles. Therefore, I've just said a little bit to prevent you from becoming arrogant and misled by deviant views and claiming to have entered the First Dhyana (Ground of Joy Arising from Separation). That's really cheating people.

Second Dhyana Heavens (Ground of Joy from Producing Samadhi): Here, the state is one level higher. Not only has breathing ceased, even the pulse has stopped. Likewise, you will not know it when you arrive at this state, and you cannot claim you have attained it. If you say you feel like you have, how do you know? That proves you have not entered samadhi at all, yet you try to fool people by faking it? Third Dhyana Heavens (Ground of Wondrous Bliss from Leaving Joy): In this state, breathing and pulse have ceased, thoughts too. In these heavens, you have separated from joy and renounced flavorful Chan; you do not have the slightest attachment or greed for the comfort and ease of flavorful Chan. This state is much higher than that of the first and second Dhyanas. Here, all the hair pores on your body are blissful. Your eyes twinkle with laughter; you are inexorably delighted!

Fourth Dhyana Heavens (Ground of Purity from Renouncing Thought): At this moment in time, there is nothing at all. "When not a single thought arises, the entire substance manifests." You have arrived at the state wherein--

A thousand pools of water,
a thousand reflections of the moon.

Tens of thousands stretch with no clouds,
tens of thousands stretch of clear sky.

"Falling flowers and flowing water proclaim the Mahayana." Everything speaks the Dharma. However, you would not be able to recognize this state yourself. Therefore, you can't claim, "I've reached the Heavens of the Fourth Dhyana." Doing so would constitute gross arrogance on your part, and a big lie too. One must be certified by a Good and Wise Advisor for it to count.

Why is a Good and Wise Advisor called a "clear-eyed person"? It's because he can take one look at you and know your level of cultivation. If you want to test him out, go ahead! But he won't pay any attention to you. A true Good and Wise Advisor will not be tested by you, and he will not tell you everything just because you asked. You must draw near a Good and Wise Advisor for a long time, and then he may perhaps tell you what you have asked, though in a very subtle way. Sometimes he might use an analogy, or just say a few words. So, do not go around doing the drum roll, proclaiming, "We've all become Buddhas!" You would be telling a big lie and playing a big joke, and in the future, you would fall into the Hell of Pulling Out Tongues. That's really pathetic!

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