Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Encouragement to Practice (Chinul)

Here is a short summary of the 12th century Korean monk Chinul's manifesto for his fellow meditators called "Encouragement to Practice" written in 1190. 

If you fall to the ground, then you must get back up using that ground. So too, both delusion and awakening derive from one mind. We must look inwards, cease conditioning and empty the mind of inclinations to self and of shameful infatuation with material and secular concerns. 

Knowing of our mistakes, we should endeavour to reform and discipline ourselves so we do not repeat them. This is refraining from wrong to realise the mind-ground without wrong, in the absolute sense realising no-self. We call it sila

To calm the agitated mind, we must have faith in the Buddha teachings, that the path to enlightenment is for everyone, not just for special few in special times. With faith we can attain calm concentration and transcend desires. This is the freshness of the mind-ground without distraction. We call it samadhi

Still, the mind may be dull, so we must awaken to the understanding of essential voidness. Through purification of the mind, a natural clarity of brightness arises. Dig to the root and you need not worry about the branches; secondary spiritual powers are of no concern. When the practice is genuine, we will not fall back into eternity and annihilation views. If it is not genuine, it will be subject to impermanence and backsliding. The development of the non-dual noumenon and purification practice of phenomena go hand in hand. This is the mind-ground without delusion in which all truths and clinging are forgotten, and clinging itself extinguished. We call it prajna.

Sila, samadhi and prajna make up the threefold training. When agitation is replaced by calmness and dullness by alertness, without grasping or rejecting, this is the radiance of original sublime mind. This is not mind-extinction, but true radiant wisdom from realising the nature of mind as not arising or having been produced, but always there; so subtle thoughts are not left behind. The threefold training of right practice, calmness and clarity is important even in worldly affairs, how much more so then in training the mind, and it will repay the effort. 

The spirit that has not seen the inner light will gravitate towards that which it is most drawn to, so at death if the attachment is to external things or visualised images or fabrications of the mind, then we will be drawn to that, rather than the pure realm which is empty of all objects.

The best path is sudden awakening of the mind-only noumenon followed by gradual cultivation. With wisdom, meditators never allow the mind to fall into wrong views, and recollecting mind-only, all sense-realms are extinguished. Do not neglect the internal empty brightness of pure awareness and cultivate this through diligent practice.

This was originally published for Buddhist Travellers in 2011.

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