I have been interested in sitting meditation ever since I began searching for the truth in life. While traveling this path, I have experienced deep agony as well as enormous joy and bliss, and it was a great and precious blessing that I had spiritual teachers who were able to guide my practice. They helped me discover the great asset of sitting meditation, and I have written this commentary on “The Method of Sitting Meditation” to share this precious knowledge.
Meditation is a way to cultivate the mind, which is the foundation of all. Once we train and cultivate the mind and find its power, we gain an eternal strength that can be used in everyday life and throughout eternity. The spiritual power that is cultivated by centering the mind may be applied in all of life’s situations. When you acquire the precious jewel of spiritual power, you acquire all. What could be a greater treasure than this!
Practitioners will gain many benefits from sitting meditation, as is Clearly explained in The Scriptures of Won Buddhism. Once practitioners transcend their wandering thoughts, they can obtain a great liberation of mind, and once concentration dwells at the Danjeon, the great power of stability will be cultivated. The constant and sincere practice of sitting meditation increases determination, perseverance, endurance, and more.
If one walks on the righteous path of sitting meditation, great benefits will result. It is my great hope that my writing will help practitioners find the righteous path of meditation and deepen their practice.
The Fourth Head Dharma Master of Won Buddhism October 25, 1997
This booklet is the translation from the manuscript of The Method of Sitting Meditation, written by His Holiness Venerable Chwasan, the Fourth Head Dharma Master of Won Buddhism. This translation is a contemporary and practical explanation of the method of sitting meditation. There are many books on the subject of meditation but this writing differs from others in the following ways:
First, the explanation is very practical and it includes specific guides which can be used by all levels of practitioners. The writing is based on the lengthy meditation experience of His Holiness and his lifetime of teaching many students from diverse backgrounds.
Second, while there are many approaches to concentration, the Danjeonju method – placing the awareness on the Danjeon, the largest energy reservoir located in the lower abdomen – is a very accessible way to stay focused. For example, the sensation of the rising and falling of the lower abdomen stands out more than the tactile sensation of air coming in and out of our nostrils. In addition, this method allows chi, the life force energy, to gather at this energy reservoir because chi energy is collected where the mind dwells. Therefore the method serves a dual purpose by perfecting both meditative absorption and physical health. Many people in contemporary society are interested in their physical health, and will find this approach very rewarding.
As a Buddhist priest, I have taught sitting meditation for more than twenty years and often worked with the koan method, which is very popular in the Rinzai Zen tradition. This can be a good approach for the very mature practitioner or for one who is highly motivated to attain enlightenment, but I discovered that many people cannot fundamentally generate the questioning mind required by the koan technique and come to lose interest in meditation. Also, many practitioners use their “thinking” minds when they contemplate a koan, which poses an obstacle to remove wandering thoughts and dissolving dualistic mindset.
The Danjeonju method taught here is far more accessible than other techniques and will assist many practitioners who want to deepen their meditation.
Third, in addition to providing an explanation of sitting meditation, this booklet deals with the concepts of mindfulness, chanting meditation, One Mind, and stages of meditation. Readers can learn how to maintain a focused state of mind in their daily lives. They can also check their own level of practice by using the suggested guidelines.
The Danjeonju concentration technique has been widely practiced in Taoist and Zen traditions, though its detailed explanation is not easily available in the West. I decided to translate and publish this book because many temple members and dharma friends asked me to present this material for the benefit of a wider audience. Many of them said that the writing is both simple and profound: beginners and very experienced meditators can both receive value from it.
This booklet was originally translated by Ms. Yunsoo Park and me. After the first translation many people participated in proofreading and editing to make the contents reader-friendly without losing the original meaning.
I especially appreciate the efforts and talents of Dr. Nancy Smith and Marian Caprino for their meticulous editing. Also, without the financial help of my teacher, His Holiness Chwasan, and my Uncle Dukwha Lee and Aunt Hyechon Kim, who have taken care of me with great parental love, this book could not have been printed.
Rev. Dosung Yoo, Retreat Director of the Won Dharma Center
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
His Holiness Chwasan served as the Fourth Head Dharma Master of Won Buddhism, succeeding His Holiness Daesan.
He is a lifelong truth seeker using the wisdom he has attained through spiritual practice as a basis for providing specific solutions for many practical things from social issues to everyday mindful living.
He entered the Won Buddhist faith at the age of twenty and served as the head minister of the Jongno Temple in Seoul. He also served on the Supreme Council of Won Buddhism before being inaugurated as the Fourth Head Dharma Master in 1994.
Since stepping down as the Head Dharma Master in 2006, he has been practicing and devoting himself to realize three great vows: world peace, reunification of South and North Korea, and healing the mind of the modern individual.
He has written many books, including “The Principle and Training of the Mind.”, “The Principle of Belief and its Awesome Power.”, “The Essential Dharma of Daily Practice.”, “We live as We Believe.” and “To Make a Home Paradise.”
His Holiness Chwasan envisions a worldwide community of truth and oneness.
The Method of Sitting Meditation
Commentary on “ The Method of Sitting Meditation”
The method of sitting meditation is simple…
After spreading out a sitting mat…
Gently bring your focus down to the Danjeon…
Keep your breathing smooth and even…
It is essential to always keep the eyes open…
Always keep the mouth closed.
The spirit should be ever alert in its calmness…
Beginners in sitting meditation may suffer…
When first beginning sitting meditation…
You absolutely must not seek bizarre states…
If you continue practicing in the above manner…
Preparation for Sitting Meditation
Stages of Sitting Meditation
Reciting the Buddha’s Name and Sitting Meditation
Sitting Meditation, Mindfulness and One Mind
Types of Mindfulness
Stages of dedication to the practice of sitting meditation
Stages of concentration during sitting meditation