Be awakened

Don’t be lazy. We have been lazy and ignorant for millions of years, and we are now lucky to hear the bell of Buddha.

Meditate all day and night while lying, sitting, standing and walking. Always be awakened and mindful. That is the message from Zen Master Vien Hoc. But how can the lazy body be conquered? It is a hard work, and only you can do it to save yourself. You should observe your body carefully. Eat healthy, eat little. Work and exercise everyday.

Always remember that the law of impermanence is drifting us swiftly all day and night, and we have very little time in this life to practice Buddha Dharma to reach the shore. So don’t be lazy.

That doesn’t mean that you have to punish your body. The body is a raft, a vehicle; you have to take good care of it for a really hard trip.

Observe all your bodily movement; that’s a part of meditation. In a certain way, this kind of meditation might have originated some forms of martial arts. Also, you can have your own style Tai Chi Chuan for fun while meditating.

Try this: breath in and out gently, move your right hand very slowly in any way you want while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. Then, with both hands. Then, with eyes open, stand up and move gently while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. It is so much fun for the children to practice their own style Tai Chi Chuan while meditating.

Ask them to try it around five minutes a day. The practitioner would some time see that the mind and body become one.

The Mind of Emptiness

Life is too short. If you attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness, you will be free from the world of coming and going.

You can feel the frailness of your body now, even when you are healthy and strong. Try this: breathe in and out, gently and naturally; feel the breathing in and out; feel your whole body breathing; feel your whole body becoming one with the breath. Then you will see that your breath is so fragile and your body is so vulnerable.

The more you experience the bliss from meditation, the more you feel sorrowful for the plight of humankind.
Recalling the Buddha’s words saying that we have born and died countless times, you will feel grateful to countless parents, and will see all people around as your dear parents in past lives. Then you will feel your whole body deeply resonate with the Zen vow to save all sentient beings. How can we save others if we are not free yet?

Zen master Vien Chieu said that learners must attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness. Indeed, you will see that the mind essence is empty and formless. So all things in the world appear and disappear in the mind just like the clouds formed and dissolved in the sky, just like the images emerged and vanished in a mirror.

So all the forms you see, all the sounds your hear, all the odors you smell, all the flavors you taste, all the senses you feel, all the thoughts you have are changing swiftly. So nothing has a self. So all things come and go, governed by the principle of dependent arising. Realizing the mind essence will free you from the world of coming and going.

The Present

The present is not the past; the past is not the present.

That means past thoughts vanished and the present thought is not the previous thought. That means every act in past lives and now has its own merit. That means the good deed now is not the bad act done before. That means the breath now is not the breath earlier, and the breath felt previously was not the breath sensed presently.

Live with the present. Every act has its own merit, so you should not worry about the past. Just sit with eyes half open, feel your breath now, feel your body breathing now, feel your thought now arising and vanishing. Can you see this interval: while the previous thought vanished and the next thought does not arise yet?

Try to gently stare that interval for all times in a day, or in two days, even when you are lying, sitting, standing and walking. Later, you can use this stare to cut off all wandering thoughts.

Emptiness

Just look at your body, your feelings, your thoughts; they were changing swiftly since the day you were born.

So you have had millions of bodies; millions of feelings, millions of thoughts – which one is your true body, true feeling, true thought? Your body, your feelings, your thoughts can manifest as millions of forms, because forms are indeed emptiness just like illusions appearing in the mirror. If you cling to anything as form or emptiness, you are chasing the illusions.

Then look at the day before yesterday. Do you feel just like millions of lives away? Are those dreams? Think nothing, just observe. Just be alert, feel the breath, observe the body breathing. And feel the life and death flowing swiftly, endlessly in your whole body.

The Treasure

Living in the world, happy with the Way, you should let all things take their course. When hungry, just eat; when tired, just sleep. The treasure is in your house; do not search any more. Face the scenes, and have no thoughts; then you do not need to ask for Zen.

Live with the water, not with the waves rising and falling; live with the nature of mirror to reflect, not with the images appearing and disappearing; and live with the essence of the mind, not with the thoughts arising and vanishing. When you see the essence of the mind, then you catch a glimpse of Nirvana – the state of unborn, uncreated, unconditioned peace.

After that moment, you know how to live with the mind unmoved while walking, standing, lying, and sitting. How can you see the essence of the mind? Please, remember: You are never away from it, just like the water holds all the waves and is never away from the waves, just like the emptiness of the mirror hold all the images and is never away from the images.

The essence of the mind is non-self, so it manifest as a great magician: your mind has no form, so it takes all forms you see as its forms; your mind has no color, so it takes all colors you see as its colors…Now look out the window, when you see a bird, your mind now has the form of a bird; and when the bird flies, your mind flies too. Your mind is all things you see, all things you hear, all things you feel; the observer is all things observed.

Watchful

Watch yourself everyday, constantly. Watch yourself, be mindful, be alert. In this dream world, do not search for Dharma counselor; Watch yourself, and see the Buddha’s face on your face.

Watch yourself, and see you are impermanent, no-self. Watch yourself, and see whether you are living in a dream. You are changing swiftly, endlessly. Yesterday, you had millions of different bodies, millions of different feelings, millions of different thoughts – just like a stream flowing swiftly.

Look back and see all those bodies, feelings, and thoughts just like dreams, like echoes, like mirages. Then look at the day before yesterday. Do you feel just like millions of lives away? Are those dreams? Think nothing, just observe.

Just be alert, feel the breath, observe the body breathing. And feel the life and death flowing swiftly, endlessly in your whole body.

Taming the mind

Outwardly, stop all involvement; inwardly, stop all fabrication. Be alert – have a mind unmoved by the form you see, by the sound you hear, by the odor you smell, by the flavor you taste.

Constantly, watch the ox moving, listen to its hoofbeats.

Constantly, in any movement, never keep your eyes away from the ox. Constantly, keep your mind on the ox while lying, sitting, standing and walking.

Meditation is like taming an ox. How can you have a mind unmoved while living in this world? Just be like a water, not like waves or bubbles; the water is unmoved, uncreated, unconditioned while the waves rise and fall, the bubbles form and pop endlessly. Look at your mind – an endless stream of thoughts. Keep watching the mind, and be like water, which equally flows all things thrown into that stream

Sitting

There are three ways of sitting on meditation. First, sit and keep your mind on breathing; second, sit and chant the sutras;

And third, sit and happily listen to the chanting of sutras. Sitting has three levels. First, sit in union; second, sit in peacefulness; And third, sit without fetters. What does it mean to sit in union? That means your mind becomes one with your body. What does it mean to sit in peacefulness? That means your mind has no thought. What does it mean to sit without fetters? When all fetters are destroyed – that means to sit without fetters.

When mindful of your breathing, you are also mindful of your mind. Later, you will see your mind becoming one with your breath. When mindful of your bodily movement, you are also mindful of your mind. Later, you will see your mind becoming one with your body. Looking at your mind, you see thoughts coming and going, just like waves rising and falling. When you see no thoughts occurring, your mind is peaceful just like a still lake.

4 tips to chase away the anxiety

American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes. The variation and symptoms of anxiety vary from one person to another. People suffering from anxiety usually suffer from symptoms such as a panic attack, shaking, dizzy spells, sweating or shortness of breath. They may also get recurring thoughts, worrying about something wrong or uncertain that is happening now or may happen in future.

In one of the most comprehensive studies on anxiety and depression conducted till date, it was revealed that globally, 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety. As such, anxiety should not be a grave concern unless it starts hampering your personal and professional life. In extreme cases of anxiety disorders, a long term clinical treatment may be required. However, in most cases, you can find relief from anxiety by following these tips.

1. Take Deep Breaths
One of the easiest, quickest and most effective ways to deal with anxiety is to take deep breaths. This means you have to breathe a little deeper than your regular way of breathing. You can practice deep breathing technique through these steps:

Inhale slowly to a count of 5 in such a way that you feel the breath in your belly and chest.

Then, hold your breath to a count of 5.

Exhale slowly to a count of 5.

Repeat till you feel your body relaxing.

You can even sniff on pleasant fragrances such as fresh flowers or aromatic oils for mental clarity

2. Do Meditation
As soon as you feel the bout of anxiety, find yourself a silent corner and start meditating. Even if you can’t find one, close your eyes and try to visualize that you are in a tranquil surrounding such as a hill, forest or a riverside. If you suffer from anxiety often, it is advisable to practice meditation for about 30 minutes daily. This will help you to focus on your thought process, shed anxiety provoking thoughts and experience positive emotions. Scientific studies how that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improves attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.

3. Distract Yourself
Read a book, take a walk, watch a movie, listen to music, dance, go shopping, clean your home, play a sport, talk to someone or do anything meaningful to distract yourself from anxiety. You can even give yourself a pep talk explaining “This too shall pass”, Everything shall be fine”, “There’s nothing to worry about”, or “I can handle this” to soothe your anxious nerves. Such kind of distraction will shift your attention to something better and make you feel energized after a while.

4. Change Your Lifestyle
Beating anxiety also needs simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, exercising regularly and sleeping well.

Reduce or even better, eliminate smoking, caffeine and alcohol from your diet.

When feeling down, avoid go-to-comfort food such as burgers or French fries. Instead, munch on fruits, vegetable salad, sprouts or other healthy snacks.

Include whole grain carbohydrates (oats, wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa) and foods rich in Omega 3 (salmon, walnuts, Chia seeds, tuna, flax seeds, egg yolk) and Vitamin B (dark green leafy vegetables, fortified whole grain cereals, almonds, pork, legumes), which are known to feed nutrition to mind.

Eat at regular intervals, staying hungry for longer intervals could play tricks with your mind and body.

Exercise for about 30-40 minutes at least 5 times a week. Scientific evidences state that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. In one study, researchers found that those who exercised regularly and vigorously were 25% less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.

The anxiety-sleep pattern is a vicious circle. Lack of sleep may aggravate anxiety and in turn, anxiety may further cause insomnia. Sleep is body’s most natural anxiety coping mechanism. Hence, make sure you take adequate rest and get at least 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily.

The Silent Temple

In Silent Temple story mentioned that at last, outside conditions and outside situations constantly take your mind , many things happening around you all the time, so only the silence of mind is left.

Shoichi was a one-eyed teacher of Zen, sparkling with enlightenment. He taught his disciples in Tofuku temple.

Day and night the whole temple stood in silence. There was no sound at all.

Even the reciting of sutras was abolished by the teacher. His pupils had nothing to do but meditate.

When the master passed away, an old neighbor heard the ringing of bells and the recitation of sutras. Then she knew Shoichi had gone.