Getting The Buddha Mind 130



Editor's note: The following transcript consists of a radio interview of Master Sheng-Yen conducted by Mr. Lex Hixon on radio station WBAI in New York City on June 21, 1981. Appreciation is hereby expressed to Mr. Hixon and WBAI for permission to publish this transcript.

LH: I am curious about the hidden principles behind the process of retreat and about the way people develop their practice on retreat-how their mind settles down and actually becomes "simple." I want to begin by asking you-when a person first comes on retreat with a scattered mind, how can you tell when that mind is settled down enough to begin practicing the method?

Shih-fu: On the very first evening of the retreat I always instruct the participants: Take all your affairs of the past and future and put them temporarily aside. When you leave, you can pick them up again. But during the seven days of retreat, don't bother with them at all. But it's not easy for someone just starting out to suddenly drop all thoughts of past and future. Therefore I start by giving students a method to cause their attention to switch from the past and future into the present. Although outside thoughts may still come up, one should just ignore them and concentrate on the method.