This is an English translation of Nan Huai Jin’s ‘Genuine Cultivation (Anapanasati Sutta)’. Please note that my translations are amateur and you need to do your own research, do not believe what I write here and please test it out for yourselves. I welcome any corrections if you spot any.
Translator notes: In the chinese translation, the Anapanasati Sutta is written as Da-An-Pan Shou-Yi Jing.
- Da means Great
- An Pan refers to ana & pana, referring to inhalation & exhalation of breath.
- Shou Yi refers to abiding by the Yi (意) (which refers to the intentional mind of the 6th consciousness)
- Jing means ‘sutra’
- Collectively, An Pan Shou Yi Jing means ‘The great sutra of abiding by the Yi (意) through Ana and Apana”.
Based on the tape recorded on the 15th March 1995
Nan Huai Jin: Today we have gathered together to discuss the . An Pan is the translation of ancient Sanskrit words ‘ana-pana’, which refers to exhalation and inhalation (Chu Ru Xi/出入息). This is what the Buddha personally taught. In reality there are many sutras which are included, we can include their content. The Buddha taught us how to use a very practical method. It is very scientific, very ordinary, very standardised, telling us one step at a time, but everyone does not understand. Furthermore, when Buddhism flourished later, on the contrary they do not value these gong-fu cultivation paths. Everybody made a big mistake. Everyone wants to take the high road when starting, they want to immediately awaken and become a Buddha. Setting themselves high and far, they do not practice realistically. In the current world, anapana is still circulated – using the breath as a cultivation method – in India, China, it has been circulating for many thousand years, and they have changed. In China, it transformed into messy qigong, without even understanding real qi. It is the same for India. When it circulated to the West, they brought the counting-breath method to medicine, treating insomnia, psychological problems, asking people to count their breaths. Later on in China, the Tien Tai sect spread to Japan and this method became popular. However, even if 10 or 100 people cultivate, none of them succeed. Why is that so? They believe that this dharma-door is counting the breaths, and the problem is also what we have been talking about for a year – What is xi (息)? This understanding. Have you been clear on this yet? Now we are investigating the . I now hope that everyone answers my questions. Please answer, what is Ana-pana?
Female: Exhalation-inhalation. (Chu Ru Xi/出入息)
Master Nan: Not just one person, everyone speak up.
Crowd: Exhalation-inhalation. (Chu Ru Xi/出入息)
Master Nan: Good, why do we have to do this? I want you to say this out and this will have a deeper impression on your memory. Don’t remain silent. Anapana is the Sanskrit word. So what is Ana, and what is Pana?
Female: Ana is inhalation, Pana is exhalation.
Master Nan: Is everyone clear on this? All clear? Please talk. Everyone knows this exhalation (chu-xi) and inhalation (ru-xi)? Now I ask another question. What is Xi (息)?
Male: Xi is not exhaling or inhaling.
Female: Xi is the instant where it stops between the exhalation and inhalation.
Master Nan: One says Xi is not exhaling or inhaling, another says Xi is when exhaling or inhaling stops, this is all what you heard in the past. Now listen properly in this lesson.
Male: Xi is self-mind.
Master Nan: Xi is self-mind, why is that so? Let us take another step.
Male: It cannot be explained.
Master Nan: This is Buddhist school’s answer. (Master Nan faces another female student) What do you think?
Female: That Xi is self-mind?
Master Nan: No, in these words, what do you think is right and what is wrong?
Female: Xi is not exhaling and inhaling.
Master Nan: What is right?
Female: Just now, Mr X said that Xi is not inhaling or exhaling. Another said the stopping between exhalation and inhalation is Xi. Both are the same.
Master Nan: Why are they the same?
Female: Because not exhaling or inhaling already includes the pause between exhalation and inhalation. This is a small-scale, and reaching not breathing through the nostrils, the state of not exhaling or inhaling, this scale is bigger.
Master Nan: Simplify your words. What is Xi?
Female: Xi is not exhaling or inhaling.
Master Nan: What if you include that Xi is self-mind?
Female: This aspect is even larger, so it is a deeper layer.
Master Nan: What this means is that our life has naturally stilled breathing, stopping in the middle of exhaling and inhaling. We talked about the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, where Maitreya Bodhisattva talked about middle Xi. Xi is not just stopping of qi (moving breath), breathing quietens and stops, without using the Yi (意) to hold it. All the thoughts in the mind must be let go of, peaceful resting, this is called Xi. Recognise this clearly! This Xi in the , I now ask everyone, how does Xi come about? Where does it belong to in life and material world?
Master Nan: That is a philosophical theory. Who else?
Female: From the Wind element.
Master Nan: Why is everyone not speaking! Are you hear to learn or listen? Do you want to learn? If you do not talk, I will invite you out. For real! I am extremely strict when teaching, I am famous for being merciless. I do not care about your status or age, you have not tasted the way I scold people. I am being very polite now, why is that so? Because I do not take you people as my real students! My standards for students are extremely high. So I ask again. Where does Xi belong to in life and the material world?
Crowd: From the Wind element.
Master Nan: Wind element! What does the Wind element belong to?
Crowd: The four elements. Material form.
Master Nan: Four elements! Material form. Correct! The wind element transforms into Xi. Just now from what we studied, what were the types of this phenomena?
Male student: 3 types. Initially it is Wind, secondly it is Qi (气), lastly it is Xi (息).
Master Nan: Correct! You must be clear on this! If you are unclear, it is useless if you think you are meditating, do not waste your time. The Wind element is a function of the Material, in the function of our body’s life, it belongs to the four elements! Wind! It is soundless, colourless and not matter. It is not jing-shen (vitality-spirit), however it has this function. Fundamentally, it is called wind. When wind moves, it is soundless. When you hear sounds, it is the wind bumping into other things. Sounds are created by friction between the wind and matter. When wind hits metal, holes, or water, the sounds are all different.Therefore do not think that the sound is wind. Wind is soundless, colourless, formless and appearanceless. When it moves, we name the wind on our Earth as qi (气). Qi must circulate, therefore when you see the daily weather forecast, you can see the airflow paths are all different. Remember this now, if this comes up in an exam paper you must be able to answer it. When this qi becomes still, just like how in this room we have not turned on the air conditioner and do not have wind entering from the outside, it is still, a false stillness and stuffy. This is close to the alambana (realm) of tranquil wind and qi, called Xi, because wind does not move. Suppose I move my hand, then the alambana of Xi turns into Qi. When it is a bigger movement, it becomes Wind. That is why the Buddha on the talks about four types: Wind, Qi, Xi, Panting. Everyone just studied yesterday, what is Panting? Please answer.
Master Nan: When our inhalations and exhalations are continuous without stopping, this is called Panting. If we go as far as to say that we caught a cold, when everyone breathes, there is a sound in the nose, this is of course panting. Panting is when exhalation and inhalation are continuous without stopping, where you can even hear it. Whenever you can hear it, this is wind, not qi. You must recognise the principle of Xi when you cultivate Anapana. Qi is when your exhalation and inhalation is not panting, when your nostril breathing sounds are quiet with a state of feeling. When the feelings and sounds are all quietened, and it is internal, this is called Xi. Xi can be felt as if the body’s insides and outside are all moving. Anapana is cultivating this Xi, not the coming and going at the nostrils, are you clear on this?
Crowd: We are clear.
Master Nan: All clear. This is very important. I hope that you study well this time. This is regarding your own matters for yourself, not for other people or for me. I am sacrificing to talk to you people. Do you think I have nothing else to do? I have many things to do, I am reluctant, a few days ago I was working day and night. I took out some of my time to speak to you people, please know my gesture of goodwill. It is not that I like being a teacher and want to pass it to you. I do not recognise you all as my students. My standards for students are extremely strict. It is true, over a few decades, I have never recognised a single student. My student has to be well versed in books/language and martial arts, knowing how to leave the world or enter the world, and both moral character and literary works must be good. Even when I am 78 years old, I have not found a single person! You must understand that when I am strictly provoking you, I am being cautious, it is not that I have nothing else to do. It is for your cultivation, to let you set yourselves right, I sacrifice my time, this is my token of goodwill, I hope everyone will value themselves. So after understanding this layer, firstly, we must recognise Xi. Later on, I will tell you how it is done. What is the important point of the ?
Crowd: Abiding by Yi (意).
Master Nan: Good! Is the important point not on Anapana?
Male: Anapana is a tool, to bring towards abiding by Yi (意).
Master Nan: Good! So what is Yi? Are you clear on it? What kind of thing is Yi?
Crowd: Ideas, Thoughts.
Master Nan: Excellent! This is the theoretical standpoint, this is correct. In that case, this is the 6th consciousness, is that right?
Crowd: Yes, its root is in the 7th consciousness.
Master Nan: The Yi’s root is in the 7th consciousness, yes. Now when I am talking, is it the Yi that is talking?
Master Nan: When everyone is listening to the lesson, is it the Yi that is listening?
Master Nan: Now I ask everyone, where is the Yi? Is it in the body?
Crowd: In the head.
Master Nan: Okay. Now we all say that it is in the head. The feeling is in the head. Initially we can recognise it like that. Actually, we must recognise more clearly and dive deeper. You do not need to go into lotus-pose, just close your eyes and let your mind be peaceful. Just now you answered that the 6th consciousness is in the head. We do not need to lotus-pose now, but you are free to do so. I am just afraid that when we do the real sitting later, your legs cannot take it and hinder you. Now we are only wanting tranquility, let the entire body, eyes, ear, nose, tongue, body and head all quiet down. The function mechanism of Yi is in the head, this is not wrong, everyone has not answered wrongly. However take note. As we sit here, can you hear the sounds of the cars moving outside?
Crowd: We hear it.
Master Nan: As you feel yourself sitting here, can you know the environment outside your body in all directions?
Crowd: We can.
Master Nan: The entire thing is Yi! It is not outside the body, not inside the body, and not in the middle. However, why did we say that it was in the head just now? In this body that was given by our parents, we can feel the Yi moving in our heads, the thoughts are moving here, these thoughts moving are the function of differentiating of the Yi in the head. If the differentiation of thoughts does not move, for example, when you sweep all thoughts in your mind, being still, without being sleepy or losing consciousness, relaxed and cool, you do not care about this head nor about this body – Yi is the entirety, including both the inside and outside. Do you understand? Experience this and give it a go. Therefore the real abiding by Yi is the watching of heart-mind in the Mahayana dharma. What heart-mind are you watching? Not watching the heart organ. When thoughts come, when thoughts or feelings or perceptions arise in the mind, this is all the movement of the 6th consciousness. You must sweep this “movement” clean, but who sweeps it away? Yi knows that you are thinking, Yi is clean and bright. Your thoughts are on top of your 6th consciousness, as if it was a layer of oil above the water. Therefore, do not get bluffed by the movement of your thoughts. When you clean up the oil surface, this clean and bright thing is what I point to. You see, you can hear my words, sitting here. Your body feels it, and you know the situations outside in all directions – this is originally Yi. Do you recognise Yi now?
Crowd: We recognise it.
Master Nan: It is not in the head! The thinking is inside the head, these are false-thoughts. Therefore, if you can sweep away the thoughts inside the mind, it is as if you open up, being clear, bright and peaceful. Isn’t it peaceful?
Master Nan: Good! I used the modern way of words, clarifying each layer. Look at the thoughts in your mind again, do they have anything to do with you? Your Yi nows that it is thinking, this is clean and bright. In theory, this is called knowing, the knowing-nature. This knowing is not the function of the brain/head, it is omnipresent. This is Yi. Therefore, in Anapanasati (abiding by Yi in anapana), we firstly do not talk about Anapana, we teach you that in every place and time, whether you are doing sitting meditation, ordinarily walking on the road, doing things – at every moment to maintain this peacefulness. Modernly put, when you maintain the mind’s peacefulness, this is Yi. Samadhi also happens in this alambana (realm). In this way, abiding by this peacefulness, there are no more false-thoughts. This is cessation, this is samadhi. When you are in samadhi for long enough, you attain first jhana, second jhana, third jhana, etc. (T/N: Jhana is a progressive state with defining qualities like joy, bliss, etc.) Therefore, the Buddha entered samadhi for 90 days in the in order to expound this Buddhist teaching. If you were to enter samadhi for 3 days, then enter this samadhi. What does it mean to enter? Entering means to go into this state/situation. What is called leaving samadhi? It means that this state/situation is no more, the mind becomes messy and chaotic with thoughts. This is called leaving samadhi. Are you clear on what entering and leaving samadhi means?
Crowd: We are clear.
Master Nan: Good! Now if you enter this state and genuinely enter samadhi, you do not need to lotus-pose. You can even stand or sit and enter samadhi for 3 days without moving. Whenever thoughts come just sweep them away, to the extent where there are no more false-thoughts even when you do not sweep. This is real meaning of abiding by Yi. Do you understand?
Master Nan: Good! Now everyone go into lotus pose.
(Omitted irrelevant part)
Master Nan: Coming back, I hope everyone recognises this Yi! What is being peaceful? When you put your two legs up and close your eyes, this is already being peaceful, there is no need to seek another method, no need to add on methods to train your breath, open your channels and whatever else – this is already no longer being peaceful, the Yi is chaotic, this is not samadhi. The important point is on abiding by the Yi. The Buddha teaches us Anapana, in the beginning we recognise Yi as the mind’s capability and function, but we have not recognised the entire thing, so we need to work hard and enter samadhi. What is the hindrance to entering samadhi? It is the flesh body. In order to let it transform and adjust, we need to use anapana’s chu-ru-xi. When your ideas are swept away, in peacefulness, do not add on your exhalations and inhalations. Sit your body straight without straining and in a relaxed manner. Relax the head area down to the entire body, completely let go. Do not care about the breathing, just put everything down. Here, do not have false-thoughts.
Master Nan: In reality, you don’t have to care about it. This Yi will naturally know when there is an exhalation or inhalation through the nostrils. Do you understand?
Master Nan: Great!
Student: How to count breaths?
Master Nan: Don’t count it, we are not following this dharma-door. Now the method I am telling you, is to follow a superior method. After recognising the Yi, there is no need to abide by it, and this is called Following (随). What is Following? It is not following the exhalation and inhalation. Now our ideations are tranquil, our minds are peaceful. This exhalation and inhalation, going and coming, it can be long or short at any time. Coming in…… Going out. Or it can come in long… going into the body’s insides… (He adds: Don’t follow it)… Until you feel it in the intestines. Even if you feel it, you do not pay attention to it. When it goes out, you also know. Just by knowing, this is called Following. The meaning of Following is when thoughts and qi (moving breath) match into one. The moment you have a false-thought, quickly sweep it away.
Mr X, even though you feel uncomfortable, you should not move your body. You can certainly exercise and move it when it is uncomfortable, but if you really want to enter samadhi, do not do these habits. The moment you do them, your thoughts, your Yi will go off with the feelings and no longer be on Ana and Pana, it becomes chaotic. It would be better to be uncomfortable. When you put your posture correctly, do not move. Why do you feel uncomfortable in your head, neck and body? It is because these places have impure qi and carbon dioxide inside. You slowly follow the exhalation and inhalation, and eliminate the thoughts. Slowly!
Now, following this breath, coming in is called Ana, going out is called Pana, coming in and going out. Now you all know. Your thoughts are also peaceful now. Very, very slowly, Wind becomes Qi. From Qi, it becomes Xi. When you reach Xi’s alambana (realm), it is as if thoughts have become empty. The mind is no longer thinking and the breathing seems to have stopped. This is the Xi’s alambana (realm). This is Xi, cessation, stopping there. Of course, this kind of alambana (realm) can be very few when you have just started out, sometimes it can pass by quickly in a moment’s time (kṣaṇa). However, this is of no matter, slowly practice stopping here. When you are at this cessation, take note! Is there still exhalation and inhalation? Yes there is! Now I do not dare judge whether you can do this after hearing what I said, it is unlikely. There are some who are able to do it. Those who can do it, good. Those who cannot do it, take your time.
Mr X, do not move. The moment you move, your body is not able to transform. You must accept this fault, take your time. Your 6th consciousness which is feeling uncomfortable, order it to loosen up/relax, the nerves here, and slowly this Xi will pass through.
I was interrupted just now. Now, the cessation of your breath is called ‘breath-cessation’. When we count breaths, we are counting this. I will not teach you this counting method, we can directly just go to Following the breath to reach cessation. The teaches you to abide by your nostril’s exhalation and inhalation, these two holes or chimneys above your mouth. It teaches you to abide by this area, and the Yi matching with this. At ths point, this seals it off – not restraining your breath – thoughts are emptied and the exhalations and inhalations will become very weak, so weak that it disappears. After it disappears, your body’s internals will still feel like it is moving, this is called Nei Xi/Internal Xi (内息). When in this samadhi for a long time, the Taoists say it opens the 8 Extraordinary Vessels, the Ren and Du channels; The Esoteric sect talks about the 3 channels and the 7 chakras – You do not have to care about all of these details. Are there such things? The 8 extraordinary vessels are real, the 3 channels and 7 chakras are real, they will all slowly be opened up in the alambana (realm) of breath-cessation. Let us not talk about this for now. If we talk about it, it will hurt you instead becaue you will start to chase and seek this. Do not care about it, all you have to care about is the alambana of breath-cessation. The thoughts are tranquil, this tranquility is also called empty, Xi is peaceful.
What if you feel drowsy? What if your mind is no longer peaceful? Then it is definite that your exhalation and inhalation has become coarse/rough, and you are blank. Grasp the exhalation and inhalation, and your mind will definitely become sober. So if you say that you become drowsy when you sit, then quickly pay attention to the exhalation and inhalation in the nose. Don’t try to abide by the Yi like what we were talking about just now. Before that, just use the counting breath method, then make your way to breath-cessation, the mind is clear, the thoughts are tranquil.
Tonight, we will talk until here for the beginning steps. We will do an experiment. Everyone must report about their experiment with this. It is not that I want to hear, this is for you, don’t waste time. Have you learnt anything yet? You see me talking fiercely and strictly, this is all for your own good, not me! I don’t have that much time to request this, thinking to be a teacher her, boasting, this is not my intention. This is all for your good. Now we will do sitting meditation with no time limit. If you cannot sit, then you can release your legs, but do not let go of the alambana of your mind with the breath. After sitting, everyone must do a report on what they have learnt, then go back to work hard.
(Start of reports of what people learnt)
Male: I feel that the qi in the insides of my body is flowing in every part. My body’s feeling is not especially abnormal, so I do not pay attention to it and just pay attention to the tranquility, where wind is with thoughts… (inaudible).. stabilising in this relationship, just like when I am calm.
Master Nan: Very good! Congratulations to you. However, let me ask you, at this moment how do you manage the coming and going of exhalation and inhalation?
Male: I do not care about it. If it is fast, it is fast; If it is slow, it is slow. However, in the middle there is a period of time, once or twice, where I immediately react to. I then place my attention especially on the coming and going of the breath at the nostrils, and these thoughts slowly disappear.
Master Nan: Good, very good! This report is very pleasing, just follow this path down. You improved.
Male: Thank you teacher.
Female: I did not especially pay attention to the exhaling and inhaling. At some moments my exhaling and inhaling is relatively ceasing a little, however when I think about how long I have stopped, I immediately start exhaling and inhaling. Therefore I did not especially pay attention to how long it was and stopped there.
Master Nan: Your Yi was chaotic when you paid attention to the exhaling and inhaling.
Female: Yes, it becomes very easily messy. When I do not pay attention to it, I know that it becomes more tranquil and comfortable. At this moment the exhaling and inhaling becomes very slow. However when I notice how much time has passed, my breathing becomes messy again. However the majority of the time is tranquil and calm.
Master Nan: Yes, this is also wrong. This gong-fu, because you did not participate to listen to this class. However you know a bit. Why did I say you are wrong again? When you say it is very calm and serene, not caring about the exhaling and inhaling, that your exhaling and inhaling is very gentle, in actual fact that tranquility that knows the gentleness, that Yi has already been matched with the exhale and inhale. Later on, you especially added another ‘noticing’ and this is wrong. Therefore, abiding by the Yi means abiding that peacefulness of the thoughts, matching the breathing. Initially it was right, then it became wrong. Understand? You have to be absolutely clear on this principle. Anyone else behind?
Female: Teacher, at the beginning I felt very tranquil, very…
Master Nan: What question do you want to ask?
Female: Right. I do not have much feelings, my entire body is relaxed, however it feels like in the middle I have become muddle-headed/murky, as if dreamland was coming, when I get dreams I immediately pull back. How do I control this?
Master Nan: Did you pay attention to the exhalation and inhalation when you quietened down?
Female: I did not.
Master Nan: Yes, you did not pay attention to the exhalation and inhalation. I taught that when you quietened down, you should match that feeling of having or not having with the exhalation and inhalation – then this would not happen. You said it was like a dream-state, the beginning is like this, and the within the dream-state you can still see the exhalation and inhalation. If you can clearly and naturally stop without intention, then you will have improved. If you have a question, finish asking.
Female: When I think of it, I’ll ask again.
Master Nan: Then this means that this matter has no more problems.
Male: Teacher, I still have a question that I forgot to ask you. At the starting when I feel very tranquil, I seem to have a type of feeling, like differentiating the host from the guests. It is as if I know the tranquil feeling, as if I am in charge, however I do not purposely try to control this owner. I have a feeling as if right now I am already in the host seat, and the thoughts are guests. What is the reason for this kind of situation?
Master Nan: This is correct, your question is excellent! That day, did you hear me answer the American about the host and guest issue?
Master Nan: Then this is even better, correct! This is what you just described. The owner is what that can tranquilly know. And all of these false-thoughts, light feelings or thoughts, are guests. Guests are guests, you let them come and go, you do not need to care about it. That function of being the owner, just being tranquil there is correct.
Male: I understand.
Master Nan: Your meaning is, why is it that there is something like an owner watching the guests come and go? These coming and going thoughts appear later on, Buddhism calls it false-thoughts, they are unreliable. If we do not cultivate, we will always let the guests become the owner, becoming the slave to these false-thoughts. Do you understand?
Male: I understand.
Master Nan: Therefore when you cultivate now, it is returning to being the owner. These guests, these false-thoughts, just treat them like the dust particles floating in the air, do not care about them, and slowly the dust will settle – this is the meaning. You improve very quickly, with deep understanding. Amazing. Do you still have questions?
Another Male: The moment I start, I let go of everything and let the breathing move as it wishes. When I meditated, I did not seek anything or want to attain anything. After a short while, I felt comparatively tranquil. Later on, I felt that I still have not reached that type of alambana (realm) of cessation. When my breath is extremely faint, I discover that my heart is beating, and it is as if there is very bright in front of my eyes, with a bit of images. I did not follow them, and later on it became quite tranquil, as if it was a drowsy state. I suddenly have a very deep inhalation just like a yawn, but I not care about it. It went very deep, I do not know what is this phenomenon.
Master Nan: This is still qi, your qi is still not smooth. Secondly, your thought perception, this clear perceptive nature did not genuinely coordinate with the exhalation and inhalation. However, you on the whole have learnt Buddhism for 10 to 20 years and know a bit of Gong Fu. I want to punish you, because you have done it for nearly 20 years and you still are not able to recognise even qi, we do not even need to talk about Xi. However, today you have reported a question, so you have improved a bit. There is definitely an alambana (realm) within drowsiness, therefore you can see things similarly in dreams. Many unusual things happen in this drowsiness. In other words, when this drowsiness is prolonged, the brain will gradually change as well. This is medical science. If I answer this way, do you understand it yet? Do you still have other questions?
Male: Teacher raised the question about Panting (chuan), and I feel that this panting is closer to the mental side where my mind cannot be at peace and quieten down… (inaudible)
Master Nan: That’s because your Xi is originally to manage you exhalation and inhalation, isn’t it? Later on, your Yi separated from your Xi, your Yi moves with false-thoughts, wanting to see things, and the Xi is ignored. Therefore the Chan sect often uses an analogy. Our mind is like a monkey, or a cow. This wild cow runs wildly, so how do you restrain it? It is through using the exhalation and inhalation as a rope to restrain it, slowly leading this cow, training and grooming it. Slowly it returns back to obedience, without wildly running, kneeling here. By this do you understand? Your Yi moves, or your mind moves, and therefore your qi also moves, causing the panting phenomenon. This is because the brain influences the heart, slowly quietening down, when the Yi moves, the qi is also messy. The mind then has a panting phenomenon. Do you understand this? Good! Do you have questions behind?
Male: Teacher, I think I understood what you said. However, when practicing, the biggest weakness is that when I am sitting, I cannot grasp teacher’s words. When I listen I am clear on it. Because I cannot grasp it, I have sat for almost a year but have not improved. After listening to teacher’s words, I let go go everything at the start and became very tranquil. When false-thoughts come, I do not let them in, eventually I realise that my own exhalation and inhalation became a little tense/tight, so I controlled myself to not pay attention to it. Soon my stomach had a little pain, and I followed teacher’s words of shift the Yi away, so I did not let it in and immediately my stomach did not have a problem. After sitting longer, it is as if my exhalation and inhalation has become better, as if it has stopped.
Master Nan: It has quietened and become more peaceful.
Master Nan: Is there anything else?
Male: No, teacher.
Master Nan: So in this class, you all have gone deeper, grasping the method of entering this dharma-door. This is good! In that case, we should test it after a few days. I like to seize the opportunity when it is ripe and hope that everyone succeeds quickly, then I will be happy. Good, anymore at the back?
Male: Teacher, I thought of a question, I wish to know if it is this meaning, please give me advice. You taught us that when we meditate, we can use a mantra, the method of chanting sutra, is it this meaning to attain the following aims? Firstly, to gather/concentrate the ideas and thoughts a little, so that it is not easy to scatter and become drowsy; Secondly, when we use one whole breath to chant, expelling the body’s carbon dioxide, and when we are more comfortable we are able to enter the alambana (realm) of samadhi?
Master Nan: When I taught you to chant mantras and sutras, it is one quarter of what you spoke. You can also attain single-mindedness by chanting sutras and mantras. Just now you talked about expelling the carbon dioxide when chanting the mantra, this is also correct. However the chanting of mantras and sutras is different because it draws support from others like the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help you. Now the Anapana method does not borrow the assistance of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, fully relying on ourselves and our assets to enter this state. In that case, although you do not draw support from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but in this dharma-door, they are formlessly helping you. Therefore every dharma-door is different. However you have said something right, that is the first step is to teach you how to become singe-minded, then let the mind quieten down. Singing and chanting mantras are also the Anapana dharma-door, however it does not tell you that it is Anapana. When you sing “Ah” for example, expelling the carbon dioxide, sickness qi and frustrations out, it is also this dharma-door. However, the Buddha and Bodhisattvas placed this secret inside the method itself, not telling you. It is like when we make sausages and put the meat inside the intestines, not telling you what it is made up of.
Male: I understand.
Another Male: eacher, just now when I meditated, the qi felt like it was outside, jumping on the outside!
Master Nan: Because your mind has not returned into one, has not come in, and your thoughs have not quietened down. So your qi has not returned. Very slowly, as you continue to do it, the qi will turn around and your body will become different. The feeling of it being outside, in other words, is that your vitality-spirit is being leaked. Do not be afraid, if the body is a little weak, and the qi really returns inside, this is better than any tonic or medicine. Take your time, you do not want to get a headache. Go back and learn from experience again.
Male: Teacher, when I sat this time, because I heard about the origin of Anapana, I seem to have grasped a type of feeling that I did not have before. My thoughts in the past were a little too excessive. Because teacher taught us to relax at the beginning, how to grasp this Yi, I feel as if I have a bit of feeling……
Master Nan to a different person: Do not lower the head, always train yourself to raise it, if not your body will press down the qi, hindering the health of your body.
Master Nan to the male: I interrupted, please continue.
Male: Because I can grasp more stability, today’s sitting is the best out of a few months.
Master Nan: I believe that, I can see it.
Male: The stopping of the exhalation and inhalation is the longest, it is extremely clear and tranquil.
Master Nan: Then your beginning understanding in Anapana cultivation has become clearer, congratulations. AS you continue like this, your false-thoughts will be fewer.
Male: It has all disappeared.
Master Nan: You must still relax, your body has to relax more. Just manage the qi (T/N: in this context it seems to mean “moving-breath”), do not care about the flesh-body. You can try it again, just care about letting go, close your eyes, do not add or subtract your thoughts, naturally be tranquil… This is Yi… Bring it to the exhalation and inhalation… Naturally… Correct, good! Quieten a little… Do not use the mind, because the Yi is what feels the thought. This mind is peaceful. You have an urgency personality, this rope has to be untied and let go of. You see, there is no problem. When there is no problem, you then move your Yi. When you do not move your Yi, it is peaceful. Come back again without using force, not adding and subtracting, be natural, then forget the body, do not care about the body. You also know, you are not seeking anything, not adding or subtracting, just the “knowing” following the natural breathing. Then abide at the nostrils, don’t use force, slowly train. When the exhalation and inhalation returns to stillness, your body will be different. You have to change your urgent personality, because you are messing up your tranquil alambana (realm) with every movement.
Male: When it quietens down, it is as if it is very deep.
Master Nan: Yes, however you moved again. You are still thinking. After I speak, you are still speaking. If your habit can be changed, your future will be different. You already know to abide by the peaceful thoughts, do not care about what moves, whether it is hot or not, just care about the inhalation and exhalation. Whether it is hot, comfortable, pleasurable, you do not pay attention to it, then gradually the inhalation and exhalation will cease. This is when the peacefulness and the alambana of cessation match as one. You must by all means change this urgent personality.
Male: Teacher, when I meditated today it was very peaceful. I realised when it was peaceful, I abided by the Yi. However, these words “abiding by Yi” is not an accurate description, in reality it is abiding by not-abiding.
Master Nan: Yes, very right!
Male: If there is abiding, then it means there is already a differentiating mind at work. If I fall into the process of scattering thoughts and drowsiness, then I should use a bit of this differentiating mind to abide by my exhalation and inhalation, to adjust it, then return back to abiding by Yi, a state where there is abiding by non-abiding.
Master Nan: Good! How about exhalation and inhalation? You have only reported the side about abiding by Yi. How about the Anapana’s exhalation and inhalation?
Male: For Anapana, at the beginning, I had a coarse (heavy) exhalation and inhalation. Then, as I relaxed my frame of mind, slowly, the exhalation and inhalation became finer. At this point, there is no more ‘Wind’ or qi, slowly entering the state of following Xi, abiding by this place.
Master Nan: What place?
Male: The situation of Xi, not caring about the going out or coming in, the insides are moving, at that time I just abide by the Yi.
Master Nan: In the future, your insides will have more changes.
Female: Teacher, I listened to the in the last 2 nights, and the day before yesterday when I returned home, I saw that Teacher suffered, speaking from 4.30pm to 10pm without stopping, as if you were putting your life at stake. When I recalled how Teacher suffered, I tried to do it myself. For the whole night I was reading, and meditated after. I have never done much Anapana, because I counted breaths and was more chaotic than the normal sitting. Therefore I did not investigate it much. On that day, I read through everything, and tried meditating, to try to follow line-by-line what the scripture said. I did not start from counting Xi, just from following the Xi, and I first pay attention to the exhalation, firstly adjusting the exhalation. When exhaling, I would first slowly let the exhalation out slowly, very very slowly, very subtlely. I doubted the scripture saying that when the Yi moved the thoughts moved, however on that night, I remembered what Teacher said about not pressing down the Yi, making it as natural as possible, forcing it will lead to opposite outcomes.
That night I slowly exhaled and inhaled, and the thoughts quietened, to the point where the exhale and inhale completely stopped. When i stopped, my feelings were very faint. Then I detected there is a perception knowing that I am meditating, knowing the changes in my body, and knowing how much time has passed. However recently, from that night to now, I feel that the “knowing” has no way of knowing how much time has passed, and there is no way to know the feelings. For example, the differentiation between my body and the external world, whether there is a worldly boundary, my perception has no way of knowing.
This question is, why is it that perception suddenly cut off even time and space? Because in the past in Xiamen, I remember Teacher asking if I heard the cars outside or the birds outside, and not to pay attention to them, letting them quieten down. I do not abide by it, I do not want anything else already. Slowly I experienced. Because I believed that the words you said and the sutra words are all things in the brain that cannot calm down. Therefore, from the night before, after understanding what you told me in the past, I try to forget them.
Master Nan: Good.
Female: Even your voice’s impression is also let go off.
Master Nan: This state you are in, is close to the First Jhana that the Buddha talked about in the . When reaching this alambana (realm), in other words, in the six steps to reach cessation, you have already passed the phase of following. Like this, you can slowly reach the joy and bliss that transcends the body. Congratulations!
Female: I forced it out.
Master Nan: What?
Crowd: Forced out.
Master Nan: Forced out, right right right. Therefore I use it sometimes to scold people.
Male: My feeling is the same as XXX, I feel like when I add something on top of this Yi, it becomes more troublesome, I feel like if I do not care about abiding Yi it becomes better. At the start, there is a bit of force to add on to it, and as I abide the more troublesome it becomes.
Master Nan: What you mean is that by adding a word of ‘abiding’. We can only express it in the language of ‘abiding by Yi’. However, if you unwavering grasp onto this ‘abiding’ this is wrong. You say that not abiding by Yi is comparatively better, and this is exactly what it means by abiding by Yi, this is even better. It is saying not to forget this peaceful thoughts, therefore we call it ‘abiding by Yi’. It is not adding another ‘abiding’ action, that would be excessive.
Male: Regarding this problem, when I exhaled, I feel comfortable and my body could relax. I felt that the qi inside moved more ferociously, especially in the areas of my body where it is not good, I like this. However it is troublesome when the exhalation and inhalation wants to move. When the exhaling and inhaling moves, the qi mechanism does not move.
Master Nan: Correct. Therefore the movement of internal qi, this is the alambana of Xi, the function of Xi, where there is no running here or there.
Completely translated from: http://www.quanxue.cn/CT_NanHuaiJin/NanHuaiJin/NanHuaiJin05.html