2 — Sitting in Lotus Posture
Forged into a vessel of the Spiritual
Unmoved by storms in the eight directions
What is the full lotus posture?
Just take a look at how the Buddha sits. The Buddha is
sitting in full lotus. What are the advantages of
sitting this way? This is the posture for subduing
demons. It is the ideal posture for Chan meditation. It
will help to calm your mind and prevent distraction. In
Buddhism, the full lotus posture is also known as the
vajra jeweled posture. If you can sit in full lotus, the
gods will protect and guard you, saying, “ Right now,
this person can sit in full lotus posture. He is not
afraid of pain; and having overcome the pain, he has set
his mind on the Path; therefore we should protect him.”
1. This is Unawareness, not
Q: Transcendent Meditation involves
listening to a particular sound until our mind feels as
if “sinking to the ocean’s bottom.” It is a pleasurable
experience, which I have experienced a few times myself.
Later, I felt that the sound sounds like a shrimp and
since then, the results are not as good as before. I
A: Your wanting to hear a sound is
your false thinking. This is false awareness, not
transcendent awareness. It should be very natural, very
spontaneous; there should be no greed, no craving, and
no expectations. If you crave something and hold out an
expectation, then that is being unaware, not
Q: Is this a good way to meditate?
A: This is a method thought up by
people who cannot sit in full lotus posture. If you want
to meditate, first learn to sit in full lotus. If one
does not learn the full lotus posture, it is impossible
to realize the Path. It is analogous to studying; if one
does not study, how would one learn new words? Thus, if
one does not really cultivate, but expects to become
enlightened by taking drugs, how could this be
2. Which leg should be on top?
Q: Which leg should be on top (when sitting in full lotus)?
A: First, place your left leg on top
of your right leg. Then move your right ankle up on top
of your left leg. The left leg represents the Yang and
the right leg represents the Yin. Thus, placing the left
leg on top of the right and then moving the right over
the left symbolizes the Yin and the Yang. To put your
right leg on top of the left, instead of the other way
round, would strengthen the Yin while diminishing the
Yang. In China, no matter where a monk goes, once he
closes his eyes and sits down in full lotus, someone
will come and make offerings to him. However, you should
not learn the full lotus position because you want
offerings. Never do it to build your own reputation or
to pretend to be an old cultivator. If you are willing
to do a bit of manual work, the money you earn will
definitely be much more than your offerings. If you are
learning this solely because of your greed for
offerings, then you should not learn it at all; you will
not get enough to feed yourself nor will you become
3. Golden Pagoda? Silver Pagoda? Mud?
Notice that all Buddhas sit in full
lotus posture. If you can achieve that, you already have
inconceivable merit and virtue. The beings of the
eightfold division will all come to protect you, and the
demon kings will leave you alone. If you cannot stand
the pain or if your legs are as stiff as metal and there
is no way for you to sit in full lotus, you may choose
to sit in half lotus but it will not be as easy to
achieve samadhi. I have told all of you of the case when
the ghosts met the Chan Master. Full lotus is likened to
a golden pagoda. Half lotus is likened to a silver
pagoda. Sitting normally with legs crossed is like a
lump of mud.
When meditating, first adjust your
trousers by giving a little tug upwards to give yourself
more room to sit down and be more comfortable. Once you
are in full lotus, be sure to cover your legs with your
robes or with a blanket. Make sure they are covered
well. When sitting in meditation, be sure that your legs
are not cold. Not only will you feel pain if there is
coldness, but later you will hardly be able to move your
legs! That is why you need to cover your legs. I once
saw somebody covering his head as well. That is wrong.
In fact the upper part of the body should not be wrapped
up in a blanket--only the legs should be covered.
4. It’s Hard to Concentrate when it is
If you are afraid of the cold, you can
wear more clothing. I am afraid of both the cold and of
warmth. However, when I am in the Chan Hall for all
these years, I never bother to wrap myself in a blanket.
When I served as the doorkeeper at Proper Enlightenment
Monastery in Hubei, I never covered my upper body with a
blanket even when it was very cold at night. I would
only cover my legs. Don't you think that it is good when
it is too cold for you to sleep? When it is warm, one
will feel sleepy. Thus, it is hard to concentrate when
it is warm.
When it snowed during winter in Hubei,
I continued to wear only three layers of clothing.
Everyday in Hubei I would smell a rare fragrance. This
fragrance differed from what we smell in this world.
However, I didn't pay any attention to it. This could be
due to the gods seeing me--a pitiful Bhikshu--continuing
to meditate even when it was so cold. During that time,
I continued to wear three layers of clothing even in
winter, unlike now, where I wear so many clothes. This
is because age is catching up with me and I don't want
to be so tough anymore.
5. Advantages of Meditation
The posture in which you meditate is
very important. In Japanese monasteries, they have very
good meditation postures. This is something we lacked.
As I am not too particular about appearances, everyone
did not pay particular attention to this. It is best to
sit in full lotus posture during meditation. This can
subdue the demons and followers of external paths. When
the demons see you as a sincere cultivator, they will be
behave. The followers of external paths cannot
accomplish this, and they will be scared. On one hand,
it is easy to enter samadhi. On the other, your legs
When sitting in meditation, your eyes
should contemplate the nose, the nose contemplates the
mouth, and the mouth contemplates the mind. There are no
eyes on the nose and mouth! Well, if you succeed, you
will have eyes all over your body and every pore will
have countless eyes. When you see things, you need not
use this pair of flesh eyes. Your whole body will become
like a radar. If you succeed in cultivation, in the
future you will experience such phenomena. For now, you
have just begun to apply effort; you have not even taken
a single step yet, but have just made a start.
6. Your Saliva Can Cure Sickness
There are no special techniques to
sitting in meditation. It is best is to sit full lotus,
where it is not easy to fall asleep and you can sit very
firmly without falling over. When sitting in meditation,
always curl the tip of your tongue on the roof of your
mouth. When a baby is born, the tips of their tongues
are always pointed upwards. What is the use of this?
This is connecting the Ren and Du meridians in our body.
We cultivators know about the Ren and Du meridians
within our body. With the tip of our tongue curled
upwards, these two meridians are connected and can
balance out and adjust the energy (qi) and blood
circulation within us. When there is saliva, just
swallow it. This saliva is known as our own water and in
quantity, works as medicine and can cure all illness.
This is something that you should not overlook.
7. Turtles and Chicken Eggs
When sitting in meditation, one has no
false thinking and puts a stop to jealousy, obstructive
thinking, ignorance and afflictions. This is a state of
inconceivable merit and virtue. If you have the false
thinking mentioned above, then you will have no merit
and virtue. It is said, “Sitting quietly for an instant
is better than building jeweled pagodas as many as sands
in the Ganges river.” You should purify your minds. It
is said, “When the mind is clear, it is like the water
reflecting the moon. When thoughts are concentrated, it
is like a cloudless sky.” When your mind is pure, it is
indeed like the reflection of the moon appearing on the
surface of the water. When thoughts are concentrated, it
is as if there are no clouds throughout the limitless
skies. Indeed, when thoughts are focused, there will be
no clouds, and there will be no rain. Thus, there are
“infinite miles of clear sky.”
When sitting in meditation, one should
sit up straight. Do not crouch your head or bend your
waist, like a turtle with its head wrapped in blankets.
Don't be that way. Do not be like a spineless chicken
egg, dozing off whenever you sit and not knowing whether
you are practicing Chan or sleeping. In our mind, we
should always investigate our meditation topic and
always be sitting upright. Then we can truly cultivate
To be continued