Practice

The Gate of Chan

In Chan, we sometimes use the term “gate” to mean a method of practice as well as a path to liberation. At times, the term is also used to describe the experience of enlightenment. The gate of Chan will open naturally as long as one can let go of the self-centered mind. To meet people's needs, Chan masters of past adapted to, and created methods to make Chan more accessible.

Chan practice use basic techniques of concentration to calm and unify the mind

Counting the breath and following the breath are the most common and basic methods of Chan meditation. These methods can be used anytime and anywhere, by beginners as experienced students. We meditate in order to relieve our mind of scattered and discursive thoughts and emotional afflictions. As your concentration deepens, your mind becomes calm and stable, and you enter a state in which the sense of the body as a burden diminishes. Eventually you may experience body and mind becoming as one. At that time, you feel peace and harmony within yourself. Chan practice helps you to become familiar with these methods so that you may be able to use it in daily life. You will then not be as disturbed and influenced by other people or the environment. Beyond these breathing methods there are advanced methods which can also help practitioners to realize enlightenment. Two of these are the method of huatou from the Linji School, and Silent Illumination from the Caodong School. But even practicing the breathing methods alone, it is possible to “enter the gate of Chan.”