This is an English translation of Nan Huai Jin’s ‘7 Day Chan’. 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. This is important so that his genuine teachings are preserved. I welcome any corrections if you spot any.
Four Dhyanas and Qi Channels
The Dharma is the ‘non-common method’, while cultivating dhyana (Chan) samadhi, sitting meditation and gong–fu are all ‘common methods’. What does ‘common method’ mean? It means that it is shared/general/common. For example, double-lotus meditation to do gong-fu and more, the learning of cultivating samadhi, even all the way to the four dhyanas and eight samadhis are all ‘common methods’. Why are they common methods? Not just you Buddhist bhikksus and bhiksunis have this ability, other external path religions all have it. For example in Catholicism, do they talk about meditation? They do. You have not seen Catholic meditation yet. When I was in Chengdu, there was a French priest who could meditate extremely well. When they meditate, they sit in a self-made pavilion. If these Catholic priests want to cultivate, they go in to meditate, wearing rosary beads. You can also say that these rosary beads came from the Indian culture. They wear a black gown and sit inside. We call this seclusion in Buddhism, they call it another name. There are problems in the translation of the phrase they use.
This French Priest told me that when he sat very well, he could feel as if he could ascend to the sky (heaven) and could levitate by 2 to 3 inches. I said, you have this ability to sit well, actually this is the function of Anapana qi, that is why you could levitate. He said he could not move his thoughts, if he did, he would be back down again. When you do not move your thoughts, slowly you will be filled with qi, and he naturally floated up. Therefore, when we talk about samadhi methods it is all common methods. For example in Christianity or Catholicism, the kneeling prayer in reality, “Amen”, praying and worship, these are all common methods, equal to China’s Confucian school.
If you look at China’s ancient emperors and sages sitting there, they must definitely sit straight and proper, this is one of the postures of meditation. If you can really do this, not moving for day, granted that you have samadhi power, can you do it? This is a type of meditation method. This is a tradition from the Chinese Confucian school. Therefore when you see the drawings of our ancestors, they sit like this, at that point there is no photograph yet. so you have to sit there without moving for days so that the artist can draw you. In art we call this drawing a portrait. In Hongkong’s antique shops, you can see drawings of government officials as couples, sold as antiques. Therefore, there is nothing outstanding about any position you have in the world, it is all self-deceit. Who knows whether the person is just drawing you to make profits? There is no meaning. The scope of sitting meditation is all within ‘common methods’. Where is the Buddha Dharma’s ‘non-common method’? It is not in sitting meditation gong–fu, of course not in this sitting meditation ‘common methods’…
Therefore many people say, people who learn Buddhism, people with gong-fu, and once they hear about external paths, they scold people. Just like in Buddhism, you say your Dharma is the highest, of course you shave your head until it is the shiniest and you are different from the rest. I ask you to think, if external paths know about it, why do you not know? Since you are such a superior person, why don’t you know any skills from external paths? If you are a Buddha, Buddhas know all methods thoroughly, the wisdom of Buddhas are just that vast. Buddhas even know the origin/root, they know the external paths. Where Buddhism is the greatest, is that what external paths cannot do is the Buddha’s Dharma. So if other people know about the ‘common practices’ in the world and the realms of samadhi, but you do not know, this is not right. Therefore we must know the principle of samadhi and then slowly go and practice it. Real cultivation is only when you know the principles of cultivation and put them into practice.
Now we will talk about Dhyana samadhi (Chan Ding). The old translation in Buddhism is ‘four dhyanas and eight samadhis‘. Four types of Dhyana fitting in with the four types of samadhi, so this is called four dhyanas and eight samadhis. Everyone should know about the first dhyana, second dhyana, third dhyana and fourth dhyana. These are all the ‘common practices’ of Buddhism with external paths. The old translation of First dhyana samadhi is called ‘Bliss and Joy transcending life (might mean body)’. Second dhyana samadhi is called steady bliss and joy. Third dhayana samadhi is called leaving joy, obtaining bliss. Fourth dhyana samadhi is abandoning thoughts into purity. These dhyana samadhi realms are also gong-fu realms, which are what Buddhism shares with external paths. Even in learning Buddhism, whether you chant the Buddha’s name, use koans, cultivate esoteric Buddhism, orthodox Buddhism, it will reach the same levels and degrees. It does not matter if it is external path or within Buddhism path.
In modern society, whether you are from Tibet or the East, wherever it is, to find someone who can reach First Dhyana, to transcend with bliss and joy, being the narrow-minded and inexperienced person I am, I have not seen any before. My standard is the same as Buddhism’s standard. First Dhyana samadhi, this first step is common practice. Maitreya Bodhisattva told us and spoke more clearly, and it is in this paragraph that we spoke about before lunch in that book Yogacarabhumi Shastra on page 370. He called First Dhyana quiet thoughts.
First Dhyana samadhi, quiet thoughts with seeking and waiting, this is ‘leaving/transcending’. Dharma master Kumarajiva translated it as transcending life/body to joy and bliss. Clear and simple. Dharma master Xuanzang translates it as meditation with seeking. I will use an analogy for ‘seeking’. It is tantamount to when you hold an electric plug. Where is the head of the plug? You try and it is incorrect and not plugged… there is seeking and waiting… then “dong!”, the plug is in. Now the real translation of ‘bliss and joy transcending life/body’, you people have heard before from Buddhism school. Now we will sincerely, honestly and steadily discuss this. It does not matter whether you chant the Buddha’s name or do sitting meditation. Have you reached this realm of ‘bliss and joy transcending life/body’? If you have no, then you have not attained the enjoyment of the Buddha’s dharma. If our ordinary thinking, mood, body and mind cannot be changed, then once we enter First Dhyana‘s realm, our flesh body, including the qi channels inside, as well as our jing-shen (vitality-spirit), thoughts, and our personality will change naturally. In the First Dhyana realm, you take notice of ‘leaving/transcending’. Why did they add this word in? It means to break free from the old habits that you originally have, at the same time through the functions of the jing-shen (vitality-spirit) and flesh body, slowly cultivate until the highest degree, having the feeling of separation, feeling of liberation. In other words, jing-shen and the body’s alambana (realms) are raised to a higher level. So once you have this feeling of breaking away, what arises? Bliss and joy. Do not think of bliss and joy as you please. “Joy” is a mental condition. In your psychology, every bitter environment/situation, the dirtiest places, the most unlucky things, you laugh… you naturally like them and are not flustered, as if you are like Maitreya Bodhisattva laughing everyday. You are slapped on the face, you laugh… you ask if his hand is painful. Sorry for causing your hand pain. You are scolded, you laugh… Sorry, sorry, don’t be angry. You will be like this. These are analogies of the feeling of separating. Both the physiology and psychology are all transforming. Separation, joy, the mental realm is in this alambana realm. “Bliss” is the feeling of the physiology. If you look at us people, even though people are healthy, do you think they are happy? Not necessarily, it is not that they feel unwell inside. It is that the eyes are not right, the teeth hurt, the legs get numb after sitting for long. If I ask you to sit there for half a day without moving, without attaining ‘bliss and joy transcending life’, it is like a punishment, right? In the state of bliss, the esoteric sect says that the qi channels are opened up, the Taoists say the extraordinary 8 vessels are all opened.
What is the point of genuinely opening the qi channels or the extraordinary 8 vessels of Taoism? It is in order to reach the “bliss” of the First Dhyana. What is “bliss”? It is attaining an extremely thrilling/pleasurable alambana (realm). When this state is reached, guys won’t think of girls, girls won’t think of guys. Not a single thing is there, you do not want to do it, you do not need it anymore. This is because one’s body has arisen this blissful sensation that has transcended this.Therefore after Maitreya Bodhisattva there is this phrase called “internally contacted wonderful bliss”. Your internal life (body), makes contact with, come across, as if the electric plug has been inserted correctly, and there arises a wonderful type of pleasurable sensation that transcends the world. “Joy” is the psychological state of leaving (body) and “bliss” is the physiological state. So in this process, it is the esoteric sect. Therefore, everyone knows the Tibetan esoteric sect is extraordinary in this, talking about qi channels. Don’t be modest, you don’t have to be humble in this aspect, in other places you don’t want to be arrogant. These extraordinary eight channels, those who cultivate Taoism love doing this.
Du Mai (Governing Vessel) goes from the back up to the crown, right or not? You all also know, so I will just briefly say. The Ren Mai (Conception Vessel) goes from the tongue, going up to the crown, turning to in between the eyebrows – this area is the territory of the Du Mai – from the inside of the tongue it goes one more step, turning to fuse with the Du Mai at the Hai Di, this is the Ren Mai. In the waist, there is a horizontal circle which is the Dai Mai (Belt channel). From the (lower) dan tian upwards, all the way to above the throat, this is called the Chong Mai (Thrusting Vessel). Esoteric Sect calls it the Zhong Mai (Center Channel). Some people especially debate, saying the Chong Mai is not the Zhong Mai, Chong Mai is higher than Zhong Mai, they can debate however they wish. The two hand’s left and right, inside and outside are yin and yang, when together it is all called the Extraordinary Eight Channels (T/N: Master Nan gestures when doing the explanation, so words alone might be unclear). These extraordinary eight channels are not the 12 channels in Medicine. Of course it is within the body, within the boundaries of medicine. Whether this life (body) has or not these things, China’s medicine and Taoism are compatible and show that there is really these things, with these functions.
If you all meditate and sit well, the extraordinary eight channels will open up. People who have special abilities, will have qi gong, can heal other people – actually the vessels are not genuinely opened. If they are really opened, the old joints will soften up just like an infant’s. If the extraordinary 12 channels are opened, the 12 channels will definitely be opened too. All of the states inside (the body) will completely change. Even if you cannot say there will be no diseases, at the very least, you have very small diseases that resolve quickly, these are the extraordinary eight vessels. How about the Tibetan esoteric sect? They don’t talk about these 8 channels, they talk about the three channels and four chakras. Four positions. In reality they are three channels and seven chakras, within this body. These are all sciences. It is not what doctors and great scholars can dissect in a nerve and see. You cannot find them in the blood vessels. However, there is really such a thing. Medicine must open-mindedly investigate it. So what are the 3 channels? The crown is called the Bai Hu acupoint. Which area is the Bai Hui? As infants when we were born, this crown is still moving around. Infants still do not know how to speak. When this crown becomes more solid, the infant starts to learn how to speak. In males and females, the Zhong Mai commonly runs from the Bai Hui acupoint down to the Hai Di point. So when you are diligent in cultivation, the eight channels are not anything special. To really open the middle channel is extremely difficult. If you open the middle channel, at any time you will be in a samadhi realm, everyday you are in a blue-sky alambana (realm). Therefore, the esoteric sect’s drawings draw them to be blue, black, these five colours represent the various alambanas (realms) within the Form realms.
This is a genuine alambana (realm) where psychology and physiology, or mind and material are unified and combined. You say you learn the Chan sect, you say I see the mountain as not the mountain, see the water as not the water, the ghosts as not the ghosts, then you have really seen a ghost. This is still a alambana (realm) of external form, a realm inside of you. It is a science, the power of the mind and material combining is here, therefore the opening of the middle channel is like this. It is very difficult. Therefore, Indian Yoga uses the comparison of a snake for the middle channel, the spirit’s movement, inside every person’s life. In China, Taoists use the comparison of a turtle, the turtle that the Xuan Wu heavenly emperor steps on. Its head is retracted inside. It is saying that this life (body), the fetus born from parents, has this capability from birth.
Fully translated from: http://www.quanxue.cn/ct_nanhuaijin/NanChan/NanChan13.html