Chan and Shivas 112 Meditative Ways


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

Chan in China was declared by my guru Rona Rinpoche, to be the great Tantra and the fourth or final initiation in the Buddhist Vajrayana. Most Chinese make the mistake of thinking that the Chan school is a part of the exoteric Mahayana Buddhism. The founder of Chan school was a patriarch both of the Chan school in China and of the tantric school in Tibet and India. Chan is called Mahamudra in both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra. Although there is some difference between Mahamudra initiation in Tibetan Tantra and Chan in China, the philosophical background is the same. However, there is a basic difference between Mahamudra in Hindu tantra and that of Chan Buddhism. Unknowingly Mr. Paul Reps translated the 112 ways of the "Malina Vijava Tantra of Hinduism," edited it and titled it, "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones."

It is said that this doctrine was given by Shiva to Devi. In Hinduism there are three Shivas. The first one is fictitious. Many Hindu doctrines were written by ancient scholars who wrote about Shiva according to their own opinion, but Shiva actually had nothing to do with the work, and all the doctrines were false. The second one is Shiva before his conversion by Buddha Gautama. He is the real object of Hindu worship. The third one is Shiva after his conversion to Buddhism. He is a protector of Buddhism. Prior to his conversion he knew only of the worldly and heavenly dhyana. Those 112 ways, whether authentically stated by Shiva or fictitious, were written before Shivas conversion.

Before I wrote this chapter, I asked my Lord Gautama, and my protector, Shivathe converted god, for permission. In the light of my meditation, I saw Shivas name written in a golden color. In the meantime a heavenly voice said, "I allow you to do so." When I began to write, I saw a divine bull standing near the right side of my writing table. He offered me a bodhi-leaf. Gratefully I began the criticism of these 112 ways of the Hindu tantra with Chan instructions.

I have carefully classified these 112 ways into 12 principles. There are nine ways concerning breath: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 27, 31, 39 and 52.

"1. Lo, Radiant one, this experience may dawn between two breaths, After breath comes in (down) and just before turning up (out)the beneficence."

"2. As a breath turns from down to up, and again as breath curves from up to downthrough both these turns, realize."

"3. Or, whenever in breath and out breath fuse, at this instant touch the energyless energy-filled centre."

"4. Or when breath is all out (up) and stopped in such universal pause, ones small self vanishes. This is difficult only for the impure."

"8. Attention between eyebrows, let mind be before thought. Let form fill with breath-essence to the top of the head and there shower as light."

"27. When in worldly activity, keep attentive between the two breaths, and so practising, in a few days be born anew." (Lakshmanjoo says this is his favorite.)

"31. With intangible breath in center of forehead, as this reaches heart at the moment of sleep, have direction over dreams and over death itself."

"39. With utmost devotion, centre on the two junctions of breath and know the knower."

"52. Lie as dead. Enraged in wrath, stay so. Or stare without moving an eyelash. Or suck something and become the sucking."

CRITICISM: Though the breath interior or exterior, the pulse and the heart beat have been completely stopped, though you have conquered the dream state and death, can suck the universal air into your body, and have really been born anew, this new you should bear my stick 30 times.

Try to think of the following koan concerning the breath. Is this kind of breath the same as that in "The 112 Ways"?

"Once the disciple-monk took leave from his guru to seek more learning from others. His guru, the Nest-Abiding zen monk, asked the disciple what he desired to learn from others. "Zen" was the reply. The Nest-Abiding zen monk held a feather in his left palm and said, "If you desire to learn some instructions on zen, I have a few, too." Thereupon he blew the feather away with a light exhalation of the mouth. The disciple was immediately enlightened. Do your "Ways" have such a functionto make the readers enlightened?

There are 11 ways concerning letters and their sound: 7, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 56, 65, 66, 89, 105.

"7. Devi, imagine the Sanskrit letters in these honeyfilled foci of awareness, first as letters, then subtly as sounds, then as most subtle feeling. Then, leaving them aside, be free."

"14. Bathe, in the center of sound, as in the continuous sound of a waterfall. Or, by putting fingers in ears, hear the sound of sounds."

"15. Intone a sound, as A-U-M, slowly. As the sound enters soundfulness, so do you."

"16. In the beginning and gradual refinement of the sound of any letter, awake."

"17. While listening to stringed instruments, hear their composite central sound; thus omnipresence."

"18. Intone a sound audibly, then less and less audibly as feeling deepens into this silent harmony."

"56. With mouth slightly open, keep mind in the middle of tongue. Or, as breath comes silently in, feel the HH."

"65. Center on the sound A-U-M without any A or M."

"66. Silently intone a word ending in AH. Then in the HH effortlessly, the spontaneity."

"89. Stopping ears by pressing and rectum by contracting, enter the sound."

"105. Enter the sound of your name and, through this sound, all sounds."

CRITICISM: Any letter or its sound may be the occasion for our comprehension of zen; however, there is no certain letter or sound (subtle, great, strong, weak, spontaneous, unspontaneous,) or type of sound (the center of sound, omnipresence of sound) that is a certain way to the accomplishment of zen. The one who speaks of a certain way of sound for zen to disciples is not a good leader of zen. He, himself, is far away from zen by ten million eight thousand miles.

Once Hsen-Nan wandered on a mountain. Inadvertently, he took a piece of tile and cast it away. This tile hit a piece of bamboo making a soundHsen-Nan was enlightened at once unexpectedly.

Was this sound Aum or HH or AH exactly? No, they are not the same as what Hsen-Nan heard. Such a sound may be heard by any woodcutters, female fuel-gatherers, boys herding cows, etc., but they never became enlightened. why? Hsen-Nan, himself, never taught his disciples to cast a tile against bamboo to make a sound as a daily practice of zen; so why should you?

There are 12 ways concerning the point or center for meditation on zen. They are 9, 11, 12, 25, 26, 37, 53, 58, 68, 94, 97, 101.

"9. Or, imagine the five-coloured circles of the peacock tail to be your five senses in illimitable space. Now let their beauty melt within. Similarly, at any point in space or on a walluntil the point dissolves. Then your wish for another comes true."

"11. Place your whole attention in the nerve, delicate as the lotus thread, in the center of your spinal column. In such be transformed."

"12. Closing the seven openings of the head with your hands, a space between your eyes becomes all-inclusive."

"25. Blessed one, as senses are absorbed in heart, reach the center of the lotus."

"26. Unminding mind, keep in the middleuntil."

"37. Look lovingly on some object. Do not go on to another object. Here, in this middle objectthe blessing."

"53. Without support for feet or hands, sit only on buttocks. Suddenly, the centering."

"58. In a moving vehicle, by rhythmically swaying experience. Or in a still vehicle, by letting yourself swing in slowing invisible circles."

"68. Pierce some part of your nectar-filled form with a pin, and gently center the piercing."

"94. Let attention be at a place where you are seeing some past happening, and even your form, having lost its present characteristics, is transformed."

"97. Feel an object before you. Feel the absence of all other objects but this one. Then, leaving aside the object-feeling and absence-feeling, realize."

"101. When a mood against someone or for someone arises, do not place it on the person in question, but remain centered."

CRITIClSM: Wherever you center, place your attention, be it a point, the place between the eyes or in the spine or heart or a mood, this place should bear my strike many times. Even if you can concentrically keep the point for one million years or a kalpa, you are just a dead person. Unless you are born anew you will not be saved.

Whatever you doabsorb it, enter it, sit on it, include it, dissolve it, keep it, transform it, leave it, or let it remainthese actions are only like plays. You, the player with your own soul, should take my beating.

Once Hsuan-Sha said to his disciples, "When the farmer sold his land, he gave up the four boundaries but in the center there was a large old tree which he wanted to keep. Would the customer take this land without cutting off the tree in the center?"

10, 34, 55, 59, 88, 90 and 95 are the seven ways taught concerning the practice looking.

"10. Eyes closed, see your inner being in detail. Thus see your true nature."

"34. Look upon a bowl without seeing the sides or the material. In a few moment become aware."

"55. See, as if for the first time, a beauteous person or an ordinary object."

"59. Simply by looking into the blue sky beyond clouds, the serenity."

"88. Listen while the ultimate mystical teaching is imparted. Eyes still, without winking, at once become absolutely free."

"90. At the edge of a deep well look steadily into its depths untilthe wondrousness."

"95. Look upon some object, then slowly withdraw your sight from it, then slowly withdraw your thought from it, then."

CRITICISM: The above ways are like the teaching of Mr. Hsu Lu who always carried a load of boards on his shoulder seeing only the front half, he forgot about the half behind him. If you say that the inner being inside of the soul is the true nature, then the outer is not the true nature. If you say that you must see the object as if for the first time, then what shall it be the second time? If the clear sky is the true nature, then what is the cloudy sky? When the question was put to Milarepa by a disciple, he never said that the cloudy sky is not the true nature. Dont think that still looking is right and unsteady looking is wrong, or that steady looking is wrong and changeable looking is right, or that to withdraw from looking is right and not to withdraw is wrong. If it is wrong to withdraw from the sight, then why be steady and still? It is just a contradiction. It is just like beating your own face; in this way you save me the trouble and energy of beating you again.

In the Chan school of China most patriarchs used to ask their disciples, "What was that thing behind you?" when the disciples always looked to the front at their patriarchs.

Concerning the feeling of ease, there are three ways taught by Shiva: 41, 42 and 57.

"41. While being caressed, sweet princess, enter the caressing as everlasting life."

"42. Stop the doors of senses when feeling the creeping of an ant. Then."

"57. When on a bed or a seat, let yourself become weightless, beyond mind."

CRITICISM: Though you feel that there is no weight of your body, it is sweet like princess and it feels the ticklish sensation of an ant creeping, you are still far from Chan by many miles. Those feelings are common to religious people who have developed some degree of concentration. What is called everlasting life here is not much. Making a holy concentration-feeling as an everlasting life is just making a highself whom should bear my stroke.

Ways numbered 5, 6, 38, 51, 60, 61, 62, 63 and 104 deal with light. Light is a very good condition in all religions. The differences between Hinduism and Buddhism in this respect have been discussed in the previous chapter.

"5. Consider your essence as light rays from center to center up the vertebrae and so rises livingness in you."

"6. Or in the spaces between, feel this as lightning."

"38. Feel cosmos as translucent everliving presence."

"51. In summer when you see the entire sky endlessly clear, enter such clarity."

"60. Shakti, see all space as if already absorbed in your own head in the brilliance."

"61. Waking, sleeping, dreaming, know you as light."

"62. In rain during a black night, enter that blackness as the form of forms."

"63. When a moonless raining night is now present close eyes and find blackness before you. Opening eyes and find blackness. So faults disappear forever."

"104. Wherever your attention alights, at this very point, experience."

CRITICISM: What a fool you are, Shakti! You are just absorbing your head under my stick, you only get a beating and not the brilliance of zen. I pity you because whatever you feel, it will not appear. Whatever you consider, or find, it will not appear. It will be either vivid or translucent, blue or black. It will be lost by your attention as well as by your experience.

A light is asamskrta dharma which means that it is not subject to cause, condition or dependence. It appears naturally without efforts. It will never be found by a seeker but by a nonseeker. (Again, it appears by itself.) So that there is no confusion, let me say that it also does not appear because of the higher self or divine self.

Many of the Chan patriarchs not only did nothing to find the light hut also rebuked disciples who held on to the light. Below I will quote some sayings of Chan gurus.

"Ta-Tung was asked by a monk, What is your guru??Ta-Tung answered, If you welcome him. you cannot see his face; if you follow him, you cannot see his back.?

"Tao-Yin said, Do not desire to get it. If you have it, that is not the real thing.?

Yun-Min said, "All diseases in Chan are caused by the light which you have not passed through."

To a tantric Hindu, the light seems like everlasting life, but to a tantric or Chan Buddhist it is only an obstacle. As a matter of fact all Chan gurus forbid their disciples to hold the light and shadow.

There are 5 ways?4, 71, 86, 87, 96to enter into concentration by stopping in the middle of activity.

"64. Just as you have the impulse to do something, stop."

"71. When some desire comes, consider it. Then suddenly, quit it." "86. Roam about until exhausted and then, dropping to the ground, in this dropping be whole."

"87. Suppose you are gradually being deprived of strength or of knowledge. At the instant of deprivation, transcend."

"96. Devotion frees."

CRITICISM: In China there is a method of daily practice in Chan monasteries called "Running in an Incense Burning Time." All the followers of Chan in the great Dharma Hall run in a circle first slowly then faster and faster. The guru always holds a stick and guides them. At a certain time he makes a loud noise with the stick which is a signal for the others to stop at once. Some have "comprehended" at stopping. What is the thatness of comprehension? Do you think that the thatness comprehension of the Hindu is the same as that of the Buddhist? No, No! The Hindu only stops on the thatness of the higher self. But when the Chan Buddhist stops and comprehends, it is only the sign of Chan where there is no self at all. A common non-religious person may inadvertently "stop" but because he has no knowledge of the higher self, he cannot comprehend. It is a similar case with the Hindus who see thatness as the higher self or Brahma which is not voidness but because he knows nothing of Chan he cannot comprehend, too. The higher self is a final and subtle obstacle to Chan.

Both Buddha Gautama and the great sage Milarepa lived ascetic lives for many, many years and after drinking a cup of milk, they became enlightened. We drink milk daily and take all kinds of vitamins, tonics, hormone preparations and whatnot, yet we are not enlightened. It is because we do not have the right view of Chan, the right karmas of a Bodhisattva and the right secret method of Vajrayana; so, even though we have the opportunity to drink milk, we cannot be enlightened by it alone. He who has recognized the truth of Chan, which avoids any kind of self, and has practised it for a long time will succeed when his holy time of comprehension is near and he gets the amazing stopping.

Concerning the great pervading or omnipresence there are 12 ways such as 13, 20, 21, 22, 23, 30, 35, 40, 54, 67, 81 and 84.

"13. Touching eyeballs as a feather, lightness between them opens into heart and there permeates the cosmos."

"20 Kind Devi, enter etheric presence pervading far above and below your form."

"21. Put mindstuff in such inexpressible fineness above, below, and in your heart."

"22 Consider any area of your present form as limitlessly spacious."

"23. Feel your substance, bones, flesh, blood saturated with cosmic essence."

"30. Feel the fine qualities of creativity permeating your breasts and assuming delicate configurations."

"35. Abide in some place endlessly spacious, clear of trees, hills, habitations. Thence comes the end of minds pressures."

"40. Consider the plenum to be your own body of bliss."

"54. In an easy position, gradually pervade an area beteen the armpits into great peace."

"67. Feel yourself as pervading all directions, far, near."

"81. The appreciation of objects and subjects is the same for an enlightened person as for an unenlightened one. The former has one greatness: he remains in the subjective mood, not lost in things."

"84. Believe omniscient, omnipotent, pervading."

CRITICISM: The omnipresence of Chan either of heart, mindstuff, trees, hills, habitation, plenum, limitless space, delicate configuration, above or below will appear by itself naturally. If you purposely try to feel, consider, touch, enter, put it on, or abide in it by your essence or by certain postures, it will not appear at all. What appears under these considered conditions, is not the real omnipresence of Chan."

Once a monk asked Tao-Yin, "Where is the place regarded by you?" The latter replied, "The place that cannot be reached by mind and consciousness."

A monk asked his guru, Lin-Mo, "What is the thing greater than both heaven and earth?" Lin-Mo replied, "It is not to be recognized by anybody."

The practice of Chan in regard to the relationship with several objects, desires or moods is covered in 22 ways: 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 70, 76, 77, 78, 80, 85, 91, 92, 93, 98, 100, 108, 109 and 110.

"43. At the start of sexual union, keep attentive on the fire in the beginning, and, so continuing, avoid the embers in the end." "44. When in such embrace your senses are shaken as leaves, enter this shaking."

"45. Even remembering union, with the embrace, the transformation."

"46. On joyously seeing a long absent friend, permeate this joy." "47. When eating or drinking, become the taste of the food or drink and be filled."

"48. O ! lotus-eyed one, sweet of touch, when singing, seeing, tasting, be aware who you are and discover the ever-living."

"49. Wherever satisfaction is found, in whatever act."

"50. At the point of sleep when sleep has not yet come and external wakefulness vanishes, at this point being is revealed." (Lakhmanjoo says this is another of his favorites.)

"70. Illusions deceive. Colors circumscribe. Even divisibles are indivisible."

"76. In moods of extreme desire, be undisturbed."

"77. This so-called universe appears as a juggling, a picture show. To be happy, look upon it so."

"78. 0 Beloved, put attention on neither pleasure nor pain but between these."

"80. Objects and desires exist in me as in others. So accepting, let them be translated."

"85. As waves come with water and flames with fire, so the universal waves with us."

"91. Wherever your mind is wandering, internally or externally, at this very place, this."

"92. When vividly aware through some particular sense, keep in the awareness flying in battle, in extreme curiosity, at the beginning of hunger, at the end of hunger, be uninterruptedly aware."

"98. The purity of other teachings is an impurity to us. In reality know nothing as pure or impure."

"100. Be the unsame same to friend as to stranger, in honour and dishonour."

"108. Here is sphere of change, change, change. Through change consume change."

"109. As a hen mother her chicks, mother particular knowings, particular doings, in reality."

"110. Since, in truth, bondage and freedom are relative, these words are only for those terrified with the universe. This universe is a reflection of minds. As you see many suns in water from one sun. so see bondage and liberation."

CRITICISM: Certainly Chan is everywhere. We should practise it constantly regardless of occasion, surrounding and mood (which is connected with the object) just as indicated in these 21 ways. Sexual intercourse, food, every subject and object of desire, color, form, pure or impure things, water or fire, friend or stranger, pleasure or pain, love, hate or joy, change or stability, inward sense or outward phenomena, and I or others; none of these are apart from Chan. There is no place apart from Chan and no place where Chan cannot be practised.

What is the universe and what is maya ? The understanding of them in the two religions are quite different. I have already discussed this in previous chapters.

What is reality? What is thisness? What is real awareness? How can it be found through some particular sense (way 92)? Is this sense your reality? If so, it is quite different from Chan Buddhism; it is only the awareness of a man who plays with his own soul.

The tantric Hindu always keeps his self or consciousness and calls this Chan. It should be beaten many times and thrown away.

In ways 28, 29, 32, 69, 72, 79, 83, 102, 106, 111 and 112 we find proof of the fact that they keep the self as Chan.

"28. Focus on fire rising through your form, from the toes up until the body burns to ashes but not you."

"29. Meditate on the make-believe world as burning to ashes, and become being above human."

"32. As subjectively, letters flow into words and words into sentences, and as objectively, circles flow into worlds, then into principles, find, at last, these converging in our being."

"36. Sweet-hearted one, meditated on knowing and not knowing, existing. Then leave both aside that you may be."

"69. Feel: my thought, I-ness, internal organs, me."

"72. Before desire and before knowing, how can I say I am? Consider, dissolve in the beauty."

"79. Toss attachment for body aside, realizing I am everywhere. One who is everywhere, is joyous."

"83. Thinking nothing, will limited-self unlimit."

"102. Suppose you contemplate something beyond perception, beyond grasping, beyond not being, you."

"106. I am existing. This is mine. This is this. O Beloved, even in such know illimitably."

"112. Beloved, at this moment let mind, knowing, breath and form be included."

CRITICISM: A monk asked Hsuan-Sha, "How is my self?" The latter replied, "What is the use of a self?"This Kun-An is ready-made for my criticism.

There are 7 ways in which it is confessed that they see consciousness as their Chan: 19, 73, 74, 75, 82, 99, 107.

"19. Imagine spirit simultaneously within and around you until the entire universe spiritualizes."

"73. With your entire consciousness in the very start of desire of knowing, know."

"74. O Shakti, each particular perception is limited disappearing in omnipotence."

"75. In truth, forms are inseparate. Inseparate are omnipresent being and your own form. Realize each as made of this consciousness."

"82. Feel the consciousness of each person as your own consciousness."

"99. This consciousness exists as each being and nothing else exists."

"107. This consciousness is the spirit of guidance of each one. Be this one."

CRITICISM: In Chan Buddhism there is a very well-known poem written by Chin-Chen, a Chan sage of Chang-Sha. It says:

The false yogis do not recognize the Truth
Because they keep their consciousness
Which is the master of death and rebirth,
The fools call it the natural truth.

This poem was written hundreds of years ago and offers good advice for tantric Hindus. It is the same advice I have given throughout.

Now we have seen their confession of clinging to the higher self and consciousness. The next and final 3 ways deal with emptiness which might be mistaken by the reader for the doctrine of Voidness in Buddhism.

"103. Enter space, supportless, eternal, still."

"24. Suppose your passive form to be an empty room with walls of skinemptys."

"33. Gracious one, play, the universe is an empty shell wherein your mind frolics infinitely."

In the 103rd way it is the higher self that is the subject of entering. 24 and 33 are outcomes of holding on to a consciousness.

CRITICISM: The emptiness spoken of in the 33rd way is the universal consciousness in the shell; the 24th way is emptiness of the individual consciousness in the wall of skin. What they call empty is just another word for consciousness. Both the shell and the wall should be empty. You should destroy the shell of universe into pieces and push down the walls of skin, transforming the consciousness into real sunyata, then you may get a bit of the message of Chan.


Briefly, let me say that not even one of the 112 ways is acceptable to Chan. In place of my own conclusion I have quoted some sayings of several Chan sages of China.

"Miao-Chi was asked, What is the way on which ancient sages used to walk??Really it is invisible,?was the reply."

"A monk asked Chih-Hui, How can I walk on the great way??Chih-Hui replied, If I show you some ways, you would go here and there.?

"Ching-Chu said, We have no certain way that is permitted. If you choose a way you separate yourself from Chan.?

"Tien-Jan said, Here, there is no way to pass, nor is there a method to practise. Everyone has his own nature without one or two doubts.?

"Tao-Yin was asked by Tung-Sen, What is the mountain wherein we should abide??Tao-Yin answered, Any mountain is intolerable for abiding.?Tung-Sen said, Thus all the mountains in China are occupied by you.?No,?said Tao-Yin. So you have a way to enter it,?Tung-Sen said. No,?said Tao-Yin. Tung-Sen said, If there is no way, how can you visit me??Tao-Yin replied, If there is a way, then we are far apart from each other.?Tung-Sen praised Tao-Yin saying, Afterwards you will be a person that none of the countless multitude will be able to catch.?

"Yuan-An said, If you are an outstanding Chan Buddhist, you should not hold the right view and write it on your forehead. It is like the tortoise who holds the secret plan of yellow river and was killed by a man for it.?

"What is the family standing of Precious Canopy Temple??a monk asked the abbot of Precious Canopy Temple. The reply was given in this poem:

Precious Canopy hung in the sky;
There is no way low or high.
What you want, the verse
Will make you go from bad to worse!

"When-Yen said, Show you a way thereupon to walk, is just like urinating on your head.?

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