The Ten Dharma Seals of Chan

What is the Chan practice?  It is to “repair” and to “act”.  To “repair” is to detach from all forms and to let go of “the notions of ego, human, sentient beings, and fear of death.”  Then return to the original true form of Buddha and Bodhisattva.  It also means to be “egoless.”  If you could reach this state, there will be no five poisons (greed, anger, delusion, arrogance, and suspicion).  For there is ego, there may exist the five aggregates (form, feeling, cognition, mental formation, and consciousness).  None of these lasts forever.  Therefore, there is no need to be attached.  Just adapt to every change in each moment.

To “act” is to practice the Bodhisattva way—carrying out formless giving, maintaining purity and discipline, realizing that there is no birth and no extinction of all phenomena, practicing with vigor, awakening through Chan Ding, and attaining the great wisdom.  These acts are labeled as the “Six Perfections”.

“Repairing” and “acting” both aim at attaining Buddhahood and reaching Tathagata.  It is not enough for a practitioner to only focus on “acting” and pay little attention to “repairing”.  By the same token, attaining Buddhahood is impossible if a practitioner focuses solely on “repairing” and ignores “acting.”  “Repairing” and “acting” are equally important in order to reach Buddhahood.

Besides, all practitioners need to follow the “Ten Dharma Seals of Chan”.  This is very important for all Chan practitioners.

Not Be Misguided by My Ego.

The first seal is, “Not be misguided by my ego”, which means we should not be interfered by our ego.

Some view spiritual practice as an outdated idea.  This kind of judgment is actually caused by their ego.  For example, we often hear people say, “I’m happy with my life and I don’t need spiritual practice.”  Some even do not believe the existence of the ten dharma realms.  Your whole life will be wasted if you are dogmatic to these views.  Therefore, we should not be misguided by our ego.

Not Be Misled by Dogma.

The second precept is, “Not be misled by dogma.”  This means that we should not be attracted to evil and unhealthy practices, and not to indulge in bad habits, such as addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling and so on.  We shall not let our pure spirit be tainted because of these negative practices and bad habits.

Not be Seduced by Fame or Fortune.

The third precept is, “Not be seduced by fame or fortune.”  People are most often attached to wealth, fame, social status, and so on, while in fact these worldly possessions are not essential.  If you are attached to them, your heart will be trapped, and of course you will not be able to attain Buddhahood even if you are engaged in spiritual practice.  These are obstacles of your consciousness.  Being deeply trapped in this mindset, you will suffer from worries and anxieties if your desires are not satisfied.

Not Be Enslaved by Material Desires.

The fourth precept is, “Not be enslaved by material desires.”  Practitioners should not be jealous of what other people have, such as wealth, mansions, or luxurious cars.  He who is content is always happy.  No one will be able to take anything with him when he dies.  As long as you could think this through, you will be at ease and will not be distressed by material desires.

Not Be Misdirected by Illusions.

The fifth precept is, “Not be misdirected by illusions.”  Practitioners might have illusions, and non-practitioners probably also have them.  Why?  A non-practitioner often cannot manage himself psychologically when setbacks or difficulties are encountered, because he does not know how to challenge the current self and the future self.  That is to say, he cannot surpass his ego, thus finding himself in a hopeless situation and feeling miserable.

Many people with depression eventually commit suicide because being misdirected by illusions.  They jump from tall buildings, cut their wrists, and so on.  Take those who jump from tall buildings as an example.  They seem to be very brave and fearless.  Actually, it is not true.  They jump fearlessly because they see a very pretty building in front of them and do not know that it is an illusion.  Therefore, they step forward happily and end up falling down.  This is an example of being misdirected by illusions.

Committing suicide is a very serious matter because he who takes his own life before the final curtain call will go to hell.  Therefore, we should not be fooled by illusions and should realize that the purpose of our life is spiritual practice.

Let’s address illusions of those who have already engaged in spiritual practice.  Many people are in fact not practicing the authentic dharma.  They meditate in order to obtain supernatural powers.  When their mind becomes in a trance during meditation, they would resonate with supernatural beings from the void, allowing those beings to enter their body.  Once this occurs, the person will speak and behave abnormally.  He himself is usually not aware of this.  Instead he would believe that he has gained super power and has become very capable.

Therefore, if you see untrustworthy illusions during meditation, try not to be affected.  Do not try to look at them, nor should you try to get rid of them.  Just continue with your meditation and not be interfered.  It is like when we see people quarreling on the street, we will keep going our own way and do not want to stop and watch them.

All illusions you see during meditation is just a phenomenon.  It could come from inside your body or a remote dharma realm unrelated to you.  Therefore, do not be bothered by them, and do not be dictated by them.

Not Be Angered by Injustice.

The sixth precept is, “Not be angered by injustice.”  When being oppressed by injustice, we should not be angry under any circumstances.  Because once anger emerges in our mind, our spiritual practice would be disrupted.  If you have a quarrel with your spouse, my advice would be that you stop mediating for one week.  Many people think that they can meditate to calm themselves down after a fight with others.  This actually does not work well.  It would be better if you just go out and take a walk, listen to music, or examine your own conduct and forgive your spouse.  This is the best way.

Not Be Entrapped by Infatuation.

The seventh precept is, “Not be entrapped by infatuation.”  Generally speaking, young people are easier to be trapped in affection, and they are usually quite extremes—either love or hate, or both.  This is not recommended.  We need to take the “middle way”.  That is, a couple can be together only if they love each other; otherwise just agree to separate for a while.  There should be no hatred and no suffering.  This is the middle way.

Not Be Troubled by Secular Affairs.

The eighth precept is, “Not be troubled by secular affairs.”  In daily life we are very easy to be bothered by secular affairs, such as relationships with people, matters, or cultures.  In dealing with people and objects, the simpler the better.  Whether it is about friends or strangers, do not allow your heart to be polluted, and do not allow secular affairs to bother you.

Let Our Heart Shine Brilliantly.  Let Our Wisdom Be Infinite.

Finally, we have to “let our heart shine brilliantly,” and “let our wisdom be infinite.”  This is the state when you witness your self nature.  To reach this state requires you to be freed from “greed, anger, delusion, arrogance, and suspicion”.  You must not be attached to any forms.  If you practice according to the Ten Dharma Seals of Chan, you will be able to witness your  self nature.