How to Practice
Our tradition has three major forms of Zen practice: bowing, chanting, and sitting meditation.The forms are very simple, and once you’ve seen them it is easy to follow along.
In the dharma room, these forms are done in unison with other practitioners. Each person’s practice supports every other person’s practice. We bow in the same rhythm. We chant together. We sit in silence until the end of each sitting period.
Most important is that whatever practice you are doing, that is exactly what you are doing. When you bow, just bow. When you chant, just chant. When you sit, just sit. That’s all.
A student asked Zen Master Seung Sahn, “How can I get beyond just verbalizing the question, ‘What am I?’”
Soen-sa replied, “You want this question to grow. This mind is not good. This is attachment thinking. You must cut off this thinking, and only do hard training. It is not important for the question to grow. What is important is one moment of clear mind. Clear mind is before thinking. If you experience this mind, you have already attained enlightenment. If you experience this for a short time, even for one moment, this is enlightenment. All the rest of the time you may be thinking, but you shouldn’t worry about this thinking. It is just your karma. You must not be attached to this thinking. You must not force it to stop or force clear mind to grow. It will grow by itself, as your karma gradually disappears.”
“Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don’t worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes. You must not be attached to the coming or the going.”