I will explain to you about the period of walking. If you know how to walk, you won't race. That is not walking. Nor is that to say that a slow pace is walking. How should you do it? You should be very orderly and yet at ease. During the walks you should still be investigating "Who is mindful of the Buddha?" You shouldn't be investigating how fast you can run, or who you are competing with. "I can run faster than you!" If that's how you go about it, you can run to the ends of the earth, but you will never find out "who?" You should follow in an orderly fashion and run at the same pace as everyone else. Right now we are walking in single file. Sometimes the walking is done three abreast. But because we don't have that much room here, we are using single file. When we start the walking period in single file, we should not be running. We should walk first. We walk for about fifteen to twenty minutes. The runs should be once or twice around the hall--three times at most--and then the signal to stop should be given. The runs cannot last too long. If the runs last too long, people get tired and winded, and then they won't be able to apply their effort. Just run for one or two laps, three at most. Run until you feel that people are just beginning to get warm. As soon as the body heat rises, hit the fish to stop the run. Then start the sitting period. Once the circulation of blood and qi has come alive, the sit should begin. hen sitting, if you can sit in full lotus posture, then that is best. It is easy to enter samadhi that way. When you use full lotus posture, the gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division will come to protect you. The demon kings will stay far away from you. By sitting in full lotus position, you are already amassing infinite merit and virtue. Notice the way Buddhas are seated--they are all in full lotus posture. But maybe you simply cannot bear full lotus posture or you have no way to get up into it. Perhaps your legs are as stiff as a board and you can't pull them up into that position; perhaps your legs are as hard as iron so that it seems you would have to fire up the furnace and smelt them before they will bend. If it's that difficult, then you'll have to compromise a bit and use half lotus posture.
Sitting in half lotus posture, it is not as easy to enter samadhi. Besides, haven't I told you before about Dhyana Master Gui Bi ("Pressured by Ghosts")? From his story we know that sitting in full lotus creates a golden pagoda; sitting in half-lotus creates a silver pagoda; and that normal sitting--without any lotus posture--creates a pile of mud. And so, pull yourself up into full lotus! Adjust your clothing so it does not bind you. When your clothing isn't too tight, then you will feel more comfortable. When you are sitting comfortably, you may use a light blanket or your padded robe if you are wearing one to cover your lap and tuck in around your legs.
When you see that everyone has wrapped his legs well and is settled into the sitting position, and no one is moving around or making noise, then you may start the sitting period. That means everyone should be sitting quietly and no one should be making any disturbance. It shouldn't be that before people have even sat down you "Pa! Pa! Pa!" [hit the fish to begin the sit]. That's not the way to do it. The strokes on the fish should not be rapid. Hit it more slowly "pa--pa--pa--." I could hear you when I was on the third floor--hitting the fish very fast to begin the sits. That's not how it should be done. You are not setting off atomic bombs. You must watch to see that everyone is seated. If even one person is not yet seated, then you should wait for him. By the same token, participants in the session should not make the person responsible for starting the sit have to wait for you. That's not the way it should be done.
When the fish is hit to stop the running period, everyone should immediately sit down and place a blanket or robe over his legs. That's because when sitting in meditation, you should not let your legs get cold. If they get cold, then it's not easy to work on your skill. And so you should wrap up your legs. If your legs get cold, they won't cooperate with you. Not only will they hurt, you may be unable to walk at all and you won't be able to join the walking periods. As to the upper part of your body, I have noticed that some of you wrap up your heads. That's not appropriate when sitting in meditation. You absolutely should not wrap up your heads. Your heads must be exposed. You can't even take it when your head gets a little cold? You shouldn't wrap the upper part of your body at all--only your legs. You can wear more clothes on the upper part of your body to keep from being cold. If you wrap the upper part of your body so that you're cozy and warm, you will fall asleep and you won't be able to apply effort at your meditation. It doesn't matter if the upper part of your body is a little cooler; in fact it's better.
As to sitting, I have noticed Guo Yu's way of sitting and I am always correcting him. Sometimes I see him sitting like that and I wonder what he is doing. That's not sitting in meditation. You can't pull your knees up like that. If someone does that in the Chan hall, he should be beaten with the incense board. That certainly merits a beating. Nor can you stretch out your legs down in front of the bench. That's the behavior of a lazy worm! Incomparably lazy! Anyone who acts like that is domnright shiftless. Anyone like that is not worth much. You cannot be so casual. You can't put your head down just because you feel like it or do anything else just because you feel like it. At all times you must be solid and strong. Just at that point you must be like vajra. no one else has the strength that you have. Don't moan and groan and say, "Ultimately what's the meaning in all this?" You really make a fool of yourself.
Some people sit like this [demonstration] Ah! These strange styles are too weird. Coming to America I see the way you meditate and I think, "Really! That's just too much! A bunch of freaks! Too weird!" But I've never said it aloud before. I never mentioned it while we were at Tianhua Temple on Waverly Place and I never said anything when we came here. Nobody--absolutely no one--ever wraps a blanket around himself during the walking periods. That's really too strange. It's really a sign of having come to the wilderness where no human beings can be found! And so today I'm mentioning it to you: no one ever wraps a blanket around himself during the walking periods in China. And so when I came here I asked myself: "What is this?" I'd never seen such a weird style. No one ever wraps a blanket around his torso. Never! In the Chan halls that would never happen. Everyone is the same. Each person wears a padded robe and tucks it in around his legs. No one does anything to bother anyone else. You can't come up with some weird style. If you are afraid of the cold, you can wear more clothes. Especially Guo Fa, who basically isn't afraid of the cold and yet insists on wrapping himself up in a blanket. To tell you the truth, I am very fond of Guo Fa. And so when he used this strange style, I didn't say anything to him. But today I'm mentioning it. There are others who do it too.
If you feel cold you can put on more clothes. I too am afraid of cold and afraid of heat. And yet in all the years I've sat in Chan halls, I've never wrapped myself up in a blanket--even when I slept in the Chan halls. At Zhengjiao (Proper Enlightenment) Monastery in Hubei, I was assigned to be door-keeper. At night it was very cold where I sat. But I never pulled my blanket up to wrap around the upper part of my body. I only wrapped my legs. When you sit in the cold, you don't fall asleep. That's what's great about it! If you are too warm, you will sleep; and if you fall asleep, you can't work at your skill.
Every year when I was in Hubei at that monastery, a very rare fragrance would fill my nostrils. That rare fragrance was quite special--not like the fragrance that others smelled. However, although it was fragrant, I didn't pay any attention to the smell. Although I didn't intentionally sniff it, nonetheless I was aware of that rare fragrance. Probably it was a heavenly spirit who saw the Bhikshu there and felt sorry for him enduring such cold. At that time I wore only three layers of clothing--even in the winter. I didn't have a sweater--I didn't have on many clothes.
After I came to America, because I'm getting older, I didn't want to be so stubborn, and so I wear a bit more clothing. At that time the cold was fierce, but I still was like that: three layers of pants and three layers on the upper part of my body. Hubei has below-zero weather. In the winter it snows. It was so cold there at "Iron Beard's" place. I was at the Bearded Elder's place. At that time, from morning to night, no one paid the least bit of attention to me. I didn't have a single friend. No one even considered me to be a human being. They treated me like a totally useless person. They would never have thought that this useless person would go to America!
Was it because I was a loner that I didn't have any friends at that time? No. I was respectful toward everyone. I got along well with them all. I didn't fight with anyone. It's not that I said, 'Oh, what are you doing trying to order me around?" I wasn't like that. Anyone who wanted to order me around could do so. There wasn't anyone who couldn't boss me around. Even that little novice who liked to tell me what to do--I did what he wanted. I never refused. When I was told to pick vegetables, I picked vegetables, brought them back and washed them clean--every single leaf.
At that time I was the door-keeper, and so I watched the door there. I also served as the gardener, and so I would go out to plant vegetables, take care of them, and when the time came, pick them and bring them in for everyone to eat. I also served as the water-carrier. Sometimes there weren't very many people--only twenty to thirty, but I carried the water that all of us drank. I also cleaned toilets. By the way, the odor from our third floor toilet is quite strong, but no one goes to clean it. One day I thought I would go clean it myself, but I was afraid if you saw me you would think, "This teacher is really out of hand. He's doing what we are supposed to do!" And so I waited. But you are all "not defiled and not pure," and so if the toilets smell it doesn't bother you.
In China, the toilets were not porcelain flush toilets. They were pit toilets. When they became full, you had to dig them out and remove the filth to another location. In doing that, the odor is positively too fine! However the dung beetles enjoy being in the cesspool. At that time when I encountered dung beetles I told them, "Aha! How did you get here? You used to be jealous and obstructive. You were selfish and pursued self-benefit. You liked to eat good things and didn't like to work. And so now you have become dung beetles in a toilet. You get to eat this good stuff!" I was extremely clear about their situation and so I am telling you: Don't be jealous, it's extremely dangerous! If you are jealous of others, you will end up as a worm in a cesspool. Once you get there, you'll have to eat that stuff! That's a certainty!
While sitting here you should calm your minds and quiet your energy. The eyes contemplate the nose. The nose regards the mouth. The mouth inquires into the mind. That's the method. It's best to curl your tongue back on the roof of your mouth. Swallow your saliva. Saliva is called the "water of your own home." That's the name of a medicine otherwise known as "sweet dew." It's also called "the elixir of immortality." If you continually apply effort in that way, you won't have any illnesses. If you do that all the time, eventually your saliva will become sweet. It will be just like sweet dew. But you must apply this effort for a long time. It's not something you can accomplish in a few days. It takes a long time. After a while the body becomes healthy. That's the principle involved. Curl your tongue back on the roof of your mouth and don't talk. Investigate "Who is mindful of the Buddha?" Doing that for a long time you will come to very comfortable. By participating in many Chan sessions, you can become enlightened.
Also, during the walking periods you aren't supposed to run like crazy--as if you were possessed. That's not how it's done. When you're walking or running, you should still be working on your skill. You work on your skill while walking and running, and you work on your skill while sitting. Don't develop some special style of running--hoping to run until lotuses spring up from beneath your feet. "If I whirl around like this, lotuses appear." Really, that's just crazy!