Jue Miao Miao Ming
This sharing was given at Cihang Guanyin Temple,
on October 22, 2011.
1. About the Heart Transmission Experience
When I first met Shifu in Shanghai I didn’t have any expectation going to that meeting, I didn’t even think I would have a chance to actually talk to him. I was actually just very excited about the chance to hear him talk in a small room, and have a chance to do some Q &A. Shifu talked for about an hour and then gave us a little break. During the break, he asked one of the people that could speak English to come over and asked me if I would come up. And he said that he had recognized something about me; he had this feeling – as soon as he walked into the room – there was something different. He wanted to know if I practiced Chan, I told him yes, I had practiced Chan for 37 years. He asked if I teach, I said yes I teach. I said I had seen some of his DVDs and I was very intrigued by this Heart Chan practice, because over the past 30 plus years I had learned bits and pieces of his practice, I learned Chinese medicine, I learned meditation, and I learned how the energy flow through the chakras and qigong, but I had never met anyone who could put these altogether in one practice, and I said that is what I think he has as his special.
So at that point Shifu asked me if I would meet him privately after the main session. So, we went into the room, and we talked. He asked something about my background where I wanted to go. We exchanged and had a very good conversation, just about Chan practice, how it needs to spread in the world and how it needs to be shared; it was a good practice. He said that you don’t realize it. I didn’t ; I was slow or maybe I got enough of mind …. He said that he would like to offer me heart to heart transmission. Now, I didn’t really know what heart transmission was. I knew it was very special, and I have read obviously about how through Buddhist practice and through each generation how masters to the disciple has passed the teachings with no words, and that the entirety of the teaching can be passed directly heart to heart, and to have the opportunity to experience that is more than I thought I would have in this life time.
But I also knew, as amazing as this opportunity was, that if I accept this, there is great responsibility that goes with it also. It is not like you just get this gift and you run away and say, “Look at what I’ve got.” No, now you have the responsibility to share and show others for the rest of your life. Every day and everywhere you go you’ll have to share and help people on the path, bring more people into the practice, help people that are dedicated get to the next level, and this will be your life every day for the rest of your life, and you’re willing to accept that responsibility. My answer to Shifu was that I have been dedicated to this practice since I was a teenager, and I have been asked by hundreds of people: why do you do this practice? Why do you meditate? Why do you do Chinese medicine? My answer was: I don’t know. I only know it is going somewhere, but I don’t know where, so I just practice. I told Shifu that I had studied with masters all over the world, in Asia, in the Western world, in Europe, in Africa, in many many places, and always sought out spiritual leaders, masters and teachers. I said that his teaching is the only one that really made sense to me. Every other one had something wrong or something missing. Some of them seemed very good, but when you started practicing it is not one hundred percent good, and I knew it when I first saw one of Shifu’s lectures on DVD 3 years ago, I knew this is it. This is it, absolutely!
So I agreed to do the heart transmission, and basically my part was very easy. I just had to close my eyes, and do a deep belly breathing and try to establish a Chan Ding state. Over a few minutes’ time I had the absolutely most profound experience in my life. Immediately, everything within the field of, you don’t really see with your eyes closed, but everything was completely saturated with the brightest and deepest red I had ever seen. And then, I’m sure when Shifu first walked into the room it literarily felt like someone had attached an electrical cable to me, I could feel this tingling and sparkling sensation like an electrical current. When he did the transmission, it first felt like a bloom inside my heart, and inflated up to where it was so full and it felt like it was going to burst. Then the brightest and most intense light I have ever seen filled everything. Then it turns into the most incredibly intense white bright light that I have ever seen like someone holding a spotlight right in your face. And then Shifu says, “We are done!”
And everything in my life from that moment forward changed: the way I see the world, feel the world, and how I interact with people, is completely different from that moment, and I didn’t expect that and I had no idea what to expect, but everything changed from that moment forward.
The biggest changes were – I’ve studied kongfu, martial arts, fighting things my whole life, and I’ve done these practices every day for 37 years up till then. Most of these kongfu practices are based on the possibility of pain as teaching: they teach the same thing, teaching to keep your mind on the current moment. If you mind wonders, boom, you got hit. And then your mind comes to the current moment or you die, or don’t practice very long; so these practices are all based on pain, rather pain – I could not teach these anymore. I could not threat someone, or hit someone anymore. I couldn’t feel it in my heart, couldn’t bring myself to do it. I still practice the body forms, but no fighting, no hitting. This is very difficult for many of my students because I have 3 schools. Now I say that I can teach you the mind, I can help you correct your body moments, but you really should try Heat Chan meditation because it is better practice.
I have a much clearer feeing of people’s emotions. When I talk to someone, everyone creates this mask that we show the world where we want everyone to think everything is OK, but sometimes people are holding pain inside, maybe sadness, maybe fear; I can see this very clearly in people. Shifu gives me the ability to help people, and to be able to clear their … and make their life a little better. So, many many changes along these lines, but most of them are just a life that is now expressed from compassion. I haven’t felt the slightest bit of being angry or frustrated over anything since this moment in Shanghai.
Now many people ask me: now this has happened, will you stop working at your job and just teach Heart Chan all the time? I said no, and I think it is very important for me to stay in the work place because there are many instructors out there that can teach people how to do meditation, how to clarify the mind, and how to settle, but you also have to have people that know how to take this from the temple and make this in your real life, in a relationship, in a job where people don’t care about your practice. They don’t support you at all. In a temple everybody is very kind to each other and very respectful; in the real world people are not kind, people are not respectful, and people are not fair.
So I have to be able to show how to take this practice into real life, and make it work because most of the people that come here to practice, they live in jobs, they have relationships and they raise children, and they have all these challenges, and they need somebody that can show them how to make this work in real life. So, for the next few years I will do this. I will study with Shifu. When he tells me where to go to teach, I will go there and teach.
2. About Miao-Tien Shifu’s Practice
There are many people that teach very good Buddhist practices. There are varied good mediation instructors and there are many good people that teach Buddhist practice. But everyone that I’ve ever met, has not got beyond form, everybody only teaches how to release the mind. The highest level in every other school, monasteries or temples I’ve been in, they teach you how to break through the mind. Shifu takes this to a much higher level; he takes this to touch your spirit. This is the goal of all these other schools but they don’t know how to get there; their path stops. Shifu knows how to get to the end, and I can feel this immediately and I know it is absolutely true.
Shifu’s practice is spiritual practice and everyone else that I’ve ever met all over the world is still stuck in form practice, and you can feel this difference very clearly.
3. About His Buddha Name
The name, by the way, is a very cool name. No…, I didn’t realize the meaning behind it, but this name, Miao, is very difficult to define, if not impossible. People will say many different words, but that doesn’t quite define it. Shifu explains. When he first saw me in Shanghai, he said, “when I looked at you, what I saw was real Chan in a human body.” He said, “This is Chan” when he looked at me. But the Chan that can be named is not the real Chan, so he had to give me a name that could not be defined.
4. About Chan in China
I had a very strong feeling when I moved to China several years ago. One of the things that was most confusing, most frustrating to me when I moved to China – I moved here because finally I can get to the source of Chan, the real knowledge, and I have a chance to be in the land where it was developed to the highest level. Then I moved to Shanghai, nobody has ever heard of Chan. For one year I go to temples, I go to shifus, I go to Kongfu masters and I go to Taiji masters and qigong masters, and nobody is Chan; it is gone from China for two generations now. Nobody knows. So, I think after a time that maybe what I’m supposed to do – because only foreigners now, people that live outside of China still have this connection – so, I think maybe my role in life is to bring Chan back to China because people wanted it very much. They want this practice, they know they are missing spiritual practice, but they don’t know what it is and where to get it. Then I meet Shifu. He tells me: no, I came to China to learn, to meet him, and then my job is to take this back to the West. So I will be back to the English speaking countries at some point.
5. About His Parents and Friends’ Attitude
Both of my parents are still alive and both of my parents are very strong Christians – Catholics. They spent their whole life as Catholics, but they’ve always supported me exploring these other things. I’ve shared with them and they are very happy. They have Shifu’s books. They read and they believe this is good practice. What I try to share with them is that they can have this practice in their life too, and they don’t have to give up their Christian religion at all. They could use this Chan practice to see their Christian practice more clearly. They can still keep this connection, they can keep these words, this form. It’s fine. They understand, and they are very strong supporters. They see a change, yes they think it is very good.
I went back to America for maybe one week last December, and everyone that I see from this area that had known me when I was growing up in upstate New York could see this.
6. About Purification of Karma
As far as karma goes, this complete purification was a very amazing feeling. I have worked many years doing meditation practice, doing clear your mind, and this can clear a lot of karma out of your body. You can clear the physical karma out, you can clear the mental and emotional karma out, but there is spiritual karma that is still there, that you can’t get. When Shifu does this purification of karma, you can feel it completely gone. I think everyone, at least I know I did, there are things in my life, maybe you regret, and you think you could have done better, done differently. Maybe there are people that you had hurt emotionally somewhere in your life. You carry this, you feel bad about this, even later in life. After Shifu does this, I feel it’s OK, it’s gone. I don’t feel this attachment to any of these regrets or old pain, and you can feel that it goes back longer than just this life time.
After the second time, Shifu tells me: I cleaned your karma back many generations, back to infinity. Karma is completely cleaned. Well I think it sounds like it’s a very cool thing. My karma is completely clear, and what I think in my mind is all my bad karma is gone. And then I came back here, Kuan Yin Temple, I sit here and doing meditation at night, and I see the twinkling lights and I get this feeling of this enchanting feeling. It hits me that he didn’t clear away my bad karma, he cleared away all karma, so any good karma I’ve accumulated, any bad karma that I’ve accumulated, it’ all gone, and he took me to some place above karma, beyond karma. I asked him if this was true, and he just kind of smiled and nodded at me.
7. About Effort
The answer that comes to me is maybe the easiest way to understand is it is like a business model. If you were trying to make an investment, if you want to make more money, you invest some money. And then you get a return on this investment. If you invest $1.00, maybe you get $0.20 back and you make some profit. If you invest $10,000, maybe you get $5,000 back. So the more you invest in, the bigger the return. This practice is the same. If you just only come here once a week, that’s very good practice and your life will improve. If you can meditate every day for about 1 hour of your time every day, you’ll see your return goes up 100 fold. If you can stay with the practice and go through and be very dedicated…, the more you put in, the more you get back out.
For everybody this path is different. The process is the same, but what you feel, what you experience, it’s you. What I share, what I felt will be different than what you feel. And everyone else that walks this path will have different amazing experiences, because you are a unique different person. But this path, this process will work, absolutely work, for you the same as it will work for everyone else. So it’s just how much you put in, is how much you will get back. It took me a very long time, so I might not be the best model, almost 40 years of practice to get to this point. You maybe can do this much faster.
8. About Spiritual Karma
Spiritual karma is beyond thought and words. And to try to explain it in words is too abstract. It’s something you feel, you know is there, and I think where you get to the spiritual karma – because this karma is a hindrance- it’s kind of like you hit the wall or if you think of it as something that covers up the light. So when you get to the point where you think you have done a good job cleaning the body karma, you feel OK physically, and then you think you’ve done a good job cleaning out the mental karma, but there is still something left that you can’t define. This is the spiritual karma.
You create the spiritual karma the same way you create the other karma. It happens in past lives. You know there are physical things that maybe you do wrong that you’ve gained bad karma, or maybe there are physical things that you do good, you gain good karma. It’s the same at the spirit level. When it clears out, it clears out the same way as the other karma. When it clears out, you know that you are on the right path because the light gets brighter and you can feel it.
But words will never capture, and no matter how I try to explain it in words, I can’t transfer it, but when you feel it, there’s no doubt. I feel bad that I can’t give you a better answer. But I honestly don’t know how to express in words. But when you feel it, you will have no doubt. If you have doubts, if you think you are clearing out spiritual karma, but you are not sure, it’s not spiritual karma. When it is, you’ll know for sure. And that’s the best I can offer.
9. About Attending Chan Classes
I don’t understand Shifu’s words at all. But, it’s very similar to – almost like the heart transmission experience, I can feel. I can feel, like today for instance, Shifu’s teaching was very light, very happy energy through his whole talk. So when I start to feel this energy, I just close my eyes. Just like I’m in meditation and I feel what he’s teaching; I don’t listen to what he is teaching. The sensation I was getting today was extremely light. I can feel like I’m almost going to float off the ground. It’s a very strange feeling. I feel extremely light, like not even touching the ground. It got to the point where my legs which usually don’t hurt very much, hurt very bad today because it was almost like they didn’t have support. They’re like floating off the ground and you could feel this. And the colors were very intense. And flashing of lights get very intense, and the different parts of this feeling. And I can feel my own energy purifying and I can feel my own clarity of thought getting clearer. But I don’t understand any of the words at all.
When I meet with Shifu privately, I will go in usually with a list of questions, things that aren’t clear, things that I need to verify. And someone will transfer those to him as a translator. And he’ll answer. But when he provides me with actual teaching, there’re no words. This practice is very much beyond words.
Words are just to help, and guide, someone else sharing their experiences so that you kind of know that you are on the right path. If you have some confusion or frustration, it helps you, but it’s not necessary at all in any phase of the practice. For example, if we try to do the seated posture and we try to sit straight. If you sit with your bones very straight, muscles very relaxed, you can stay in meditation for a long time. If someone tells you that, you can advance very quickly. You’ll find this same answer by yourself if you bend over, you get very uncomfortable. It gets very sore. It hurts. You’ll even quit meditation or you’ll learn.
If I sit straight it’s much more comfortable and the energy flows. Chi flows through the body. If my body is bent over, it’s like a hose, you try to water the garden and you try to water the flowers. If the hose is bent no water will come out or very little. But if I hold it straight the energy flows very well. So if no one ever teaches you that, you’ll find it on your own. You’ll discover that if I sit straight I can sit very long and the energy flows very well. If someone teaches you, you can do it much faster.
With no offense to instructors, because I have great respect for them. A Chan teacher cannot teach you anything. You already know everything inside your own body, inside your own mind, and inside your own spirit. All they can help you do is be more efficient and not take so many side paths in discovering, but it is already all inside of you and you have to discover it yourself and you have to take every step yourself. Nobody can do any of this practice for you. So all instructors can do is help make corrections along the way and help you process, but it’s already all inside every one of us.
Just one other thing to share. These kinds of shared practice sessions where you come to the temple, take a class, are very very important. You can learn this sitting by yourself. You can understand the very basics of seated meditation, how to breathe, and go sit by yourself and you would get there, but it is a very slow process and you’ll make many errors, and maybe get yourself so far off track that maybe you’ll quit. But if you come to practice and you have an instructor, and have other people to share with, they can help you see this practice from more perspectives because normally we only see life from our own experience, from our own mind, our own values, and our own emotions. And we are generally pretty sure that we are right. But then if you share this same experience with other people, you will see that other people are right too. They look at things from different ways and so it broadens your ability to see a path. So now your path isn’t so narrow and so difficult to stay on. Your path gets wider and you can follow this path much more easily if you share this experience with other people.