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Commentary on The Method of Sitting Meditation
: : The method of sitting meditation is extremely simple and easy…
5) Always keep the mouth closed. If the water ascends and the fire descends readily after lengthy practice, clear and smooth saliva will flow continuously from the salivary glands, which you may gather in the mouth and swallow occasionally.
[ Always keep the mouth closed.]
It is a well-known fact in daily life that when one stiffens one's resolution, one becomes taut and one's mouth becomes firmly closed; this is a natural phenomenon. When one is completely attentive, and one’s energy is centered, one can gather and direct one's energy at will. But when one’s resolution flags, the closed mouth is apt to loosen.
We can stay alert without one moment of being inattentive by keeping the mouth resolutely closed. In this frame of mind, one collects the energy that is dispersed, and one can enter the authentic realm of absorption in accord with the energy and mind.
When one becomes inattentive or is grasped by drowsiness, the first signs appear at one's spine and mouth. The back slumps and the mouth loosens as the attention lapses. One should notice this immediately and bring the body erect to the original position. Unless detected and corrected, there always lurks the danger that these symptoms will worsen over time and form a habit that one cannot reverse. Tragically, one may easily slip into this state. Thus one must be resolutely attentive and courageous. The easiest and wisest method is to deal with irresolution before it becomes a habit, as one must employ tremendous effort once it becomes hardened.
[ If the water ascends and the fire descends readily after lengthy practice, clear and smooth saliva will flow continuously from the salivary glands, which you may gather in the mouth and swallow occasionally. ]
The functioning of our bodies is very complicated, yet the main principle is that they operate by the harmony of water and fire. When the water energy and fire energy are in harmony, each playing its respective role, we can live well. When the balance is broken, however, the water energy and the fire energy fail to do their respective parts and health cannot be maintained.
The characteristics of water and fire are that water flows down and fire rises up.
However, in a living body there is a circulation of energies; the water energy rises while the fire energy descends. When this rule collapses, there appears disorder in our body.
Water energy dries up if the fire energy becomes dominant. That is, when fire energy rises, our water energy is exhausted. Contrarily, if the fire energy wanes, the water energy exerts a heavy pull on us. Under either of these conditions, the physical health deteriorates. The body becomes exhausted as our energies are lost in perspiration and the mind becomes exhausted as the fire energy rises and water energy dries up.
When the body obtains comfort through correct posture, and delusive thoughts calm down in our mind, our body regains the harmonious state of water rising and fire descending. The spirit becomes refreshed and clear and fragrant saliva springs up between the tongue and teeth. This is the natural condition in a practitioner without illness who has found the right path to sitting meditation after lengthy practice. However, even with a considerable level of competence in sitting meditation on one's side, this natural state of harmony may be lost to one who is suffering chronic illness. Therefore, it is very important to pay close attention to and constantly care for your physical health. A loss of harmony can also result from your falling into the wrong path to sitting meditation; close monitoring of the causes and prompt troubleshooting are required.
It is written in the Principle Book that when clear and smooth saliva flows, it may be gathered in the mouth and swallowed occasionally. If the saliva is swallowed too frequently without given time to be gathered in the mouth, the power of descent will decrease. The effect that trickling water has is weak, but when it is gathered and is let to flow all at once, it has power. If saliva is allowed to gather in the mouth and only occasionally swallowed, the power of descent will be facilitated, having a good influence on the body and the spirit. This can greatly help in accumulating the merit of sitting meditation. However, this phenomenon is attainable only when the body and the mind have been familiarized with the right method of sitting meditation and physical and mental comfort has been reached. That is to say that the phenomenon occurs when the body is made comfortable by being familiarized with the correct posture, the energy is resting in the Danjeon, and the spirit is rid of all the mind-disturbing wandering thoughts and is familiarized with the single-mindedness of the Danjeon. It will never be attained by fretful desire, nor will it be achieved by obstinate willfulness.
Some students pay too much attention to the subject of saliva. The more you want the saliva and pay attention to it, the more the mind-disturbing wandering thoughts will develop. This in turn will bring about even deeper distress and can cause one to drift away from sitting meditation. Therefore, it is best to leave the production of saliva up to the bodily condition and focus instead on consistently following the correct method of sitting meditation. Continuously train the body and the spirit to be familiarized with the right way.