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Commentary on The Method of Sitting Meditation
: : If you continue practicing in the above manner for a long period of time, you ultimately will forget the distinction between subject and object. You will forget time and place and, resting in the genuine realm of stillness and non-duality, you will rejoice in an unparalleled bliss of mind.
The above-stated stage is the last phase you encounter in sitting meditation after having gone through the entire process.
However, hastily driven by misconception or greed, you may easily be troubled by several difficulties. You may be questioning yourself, wondering why you have not experienced “unparalleled bliss of mind” or “the genuine realm of stillness and non-duality.” You may be wondering why you have not attained the state of “forgetting time and place” or “forgetting the distinction between subject and object.”
Such rash expectations will cause you to lose interest in and take a skeptical view of sitting meditation, which will ultimately develop into a negative opinion about the value of your practice. In the end, you could become weary of sitting meditation and give it up altogether. The stronger the anticipation of the desired outcome functions as a standard for evaluating sitting meditation, the greater the force of interference it will become. With sitting meditation not proceeding as you would like, and the possibility of attaining the desired effect only drifting farther away, you cannot but lose interest.
This is the saddest thing that can happen to a practitioner. It is the greatest loss a practitioner can suffer, a loss that can never be replaced. The time during sitting meditation is the period of replenishing the drained spiritual strength. Just as by taking meals everyday we provide necessary nutrients to our bodies, making it possible for us to be always on the move, when we regularly practice sitting meditation our spiritual strength is replenished and the train of spiritual activities is kept on track. Therefore, you must think of sitting meditation as a daily routine, much like taking meals. You must simply stop conjecturing upon the outcome and weighing its pros and cons. Merely repeat the practice faithfully. When your body and mind are familiarized with the methods previously described, and when you are settled in the state of physical and spiritual comfort, you will be absorbed into the blissful and profound realm of sitting meditation.
There must be no prejudice or misconception about the meaning of the phrase “a long period of time.” “A long period of time” does not mean to sit for a long time without lying down or sleeping, or just to put in one’s time without sincere effort and dedication. This is a misunderstanding of the true meaning of sitting meditation and a failure to maintain the golden mean. The true definition of “a long period of time” is to devote a considerable amount of time to sitting meditation everyday and to repeat this daily practice for a long, long time. It must be practiced for a long time in the manner faithful to the prescribed methods. Your ability in sitting meditation does not grow by itself just because you have set yourself in the seated posture for a lengthy period of time. This is why it is important to note that your ability will accumulate in a neat pile only when all the right conditions are met.
Therefore, raising high or hasty expectation of a desired outcome while being negligent in accumulating due effort, you will be faced with fierce interference. Such practice must be prudently avoided. It is best to devote yourself to accumulating due effort and not to be concerned with the outcome.
[ You ultimately will forget the distinction between subject and object ]
This stage refers to the state in which the separation between self and surroundings has disappeared. The state in which only the thought of resting in the Danjeon exists is recognized as the state where the distinction between subject and object is forgotten.
[ You will forget time and place ]
Anyone who practices sitting meditation frequently experiences idle distractions relating to time and space. Various thoughts repeatedly arise and cease, such as distracting thoughts reminding you of the time you started or the time to end. This leads you to estimate how long meditation has continued or imagine that it must have continued for a quite a while, manifesting your wish for the end of the session. Idle thoughts associated with the place or the environment you are presently in as well as recollections of past events or forgotten incidents also continuously surface and submerge.
Only by rising above such space-time conditioning and reaching the state in which only the single thought of resting in the Danjeon exists can the realm of forgotten time and place be attained.
[ Resting in the genuine realm of stillness and non-duality ]
The state in which the energy and the spirit together become one through resting in the Danjeon is “the genuine realm of stillness and non-duality.” With the fulfillment of the Danjeon and the ceasing of all thoughts that come and go, stillness is attained. With all dualistic thoughts, conjectures, and schemes forgotten, non-duality is gained; without a speck of impurity remaining, the genuine realm is reached. It is this state that is in union with the innate truth of Il-Won
, the realm prior to thought.
It is like pure clean water brought up from deeply below the earth’s contamination. Water such as this holds the most vibrant power pulsating with life force. It grants boundless grace everywhere it touches. The longer you rest in “the genuine realm of stillness and non-duality,” the stronger your spiritual life force grows. This “water of life” will purify the polluted spirit at its roots, endlessly expanding its positive influence on the spiritual life force. Then, wherever the spirit travels, and whatever activity it is engaged in, boundless grace will be generated.
[ You will rejoice in unparalleled bliss of mind ]
This is the bliss you experience when your spirit is absorbed into the ultimate in sitting meditation, the genuine realm of stillness and non-duality. In our daily routine, no matter what activity we may be engaged in, when we overcome various obstacles and finally reach the ultimate, we experience the world of joy in which we forget all our troubles and allow ourselves to be immersed. This world can never be experienced if there is a speck left in your spirit untrained by the dharma, however minute it may be. Through continued practice of sitting meditation and repeated tastes of the genuine realm, little by little your body and spirit become trained until finally you are absorbed into the genuine realm. Once in this genuine realm, you will forget your self and will rejoice in a boundless bliss of mind.