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Sitting Meditation, Mindfulness and One Mind
About meditation, the Ven. Sotaesan said that practitioners when at rest should be mindful to practice sitting meditation or recite the name of the Buddha, but when they are involved in an activity, practitioners should be mindful during that activity. One Mind refers to the mindfulness to remove the wrong and do the right. In whatever activity, there is an aspect of right and wrong. If you are careful to choose the right and abandon the wrong, that is mindfulness and concentration. Mindfulness is the beginning and concentration is the end result. If you cultivate the mind’s ability to concentrate, you will ultimately enter samadhi whether you are at rest or active. This is called “The Meditation on Work.” This enables practitioners to practice meditation wherever and whenever they are, not leaving meditation even for a moment. By this merit of mindfulness, our spiritual and physical life can be improved in complete balance, and understanding of universal principles and human affairs can be pursued together. This practice enables practitioners to realize that “Buddhadharma is daily life and daily life is Buddhadharma.”
Many practitioners ignore or underestimate the practice of keeping mindful in daily activities. They hold the idea that only sitting meditation is the best practice. We cannot say these people are wise enough or know the basic principle of mind. The Ven. Sotaesan warned, “The Zen which can only be practiced when one is seated but cannot be while standing is a sickly Zen.”
The mind has the characteristic that it can be developed according to the way it is disciplined. If one is mindful while driving, the person becomes a competent driver; if one is mindful while writing calligraphy, one becomes skillful at calligraphy; and if one tries to concentrate on reading, the person is able at reading and will come to have much knowledge in that field. Whatever one does, if one is mindful while doing, the person can nurture the ability to cultivate One Mind and become a useful and able person.
If one does not cultivate One Mind, one becomes unable to carry out one’s own matters and cannot even think of helping others.
If one concentrates one’s mind on what one is doing without being carried away to another matter, concentration will be cultivated and attachments and distracting thoughts will disappear. One’s wisdom and clarity of mind will also be greatly enhanced. One will be enabled and empowered to decide to do the righteous thing, so that one can do every thing righteously according to the dharma, no matter what obstacles one faces, anytime and anywhere.
As is said in “Timeless Zen and Placeless Zen,” “One will be centered like an iron pillar and become as impenetrable as a stone wall, and never be enticed or obstructed. Even while residing in this mundane world, one will constantly attain hundreds and thousands of samadhi,” and “One will obtain freedom from birth and death, liberation from the cycle of rebirths, and the ultimate bliss of the Pure Land
Therefore practitioners will obtain great power of Zen meditation if they recite the name of the Buddha or practice sitting meditation when they are at rest, in order to eliminate distracting thoughts and to practice the genuine realm of stillness and non-duality, and are mindful and concentrated while doing activities.
Practitioners should not only utilize what they have attained in their daily activities, but also use the power obtained by meditation to hone their wisdom by studying the universal principles and also studying human affairs, to enhance their power of choice and to act in accordance with the middle way. This is a skillful and efficient way of practice that anyone can do. In this way, one can practice the Threefold Study?Meditation, Inquiry, and Conduct?in concert. One’s daily life and practice will improve together, assisting each other.
We should not make the mistake of thinking that sitting meditation is the only technique and think that only people of low spirituality recite the name of the Buddha and practice the mindfulness of “timeless Zen and placeless Zen.” Rather we should be wise enough to practice these three techniques together and achieve twice as much with half the effort.