Getting The Buddha Mind 132

After a person has already settled into the practice I will then give him a "tense" method. The person's body and mind basically should still be relaxed. Nevertheless, his work on the method should be strenuous. After a person's mind is calmed down you can make him put a lot of effort on keeping his mind moving in one direction, on a specific method. If you can single-mindedly go forward without slackening, then your power will get greater and greater and the results go deeper and deeper. When I see someone working like this, I might use all kinds of methods to goad him, shouting, scolding, anything to keep him from stopping or letting up. There is a Chinese saying: If your boat is going upstream, you better keep rowing, or you'll slip back with the current. It's like practice. You keep pushing forward. Otherwise your human inertia will just pull you right back.

LH: This is why a retreat master who is sensitive is so essential. During my retreat, after my mind and body had settled down enough for Shih-fu to get me into this more strenuous, single-minded practice, something happened. I lost the connection, and though I used my will power to stir up that strong practice again, it wouldn't happen. Shih-fu suggested that I relax again for a while. I thought I was going to lose the whole thing, but I relaxed again, and then, spontaneously, the more strenuous effort began to happen. So a retreat master knows just when to tell you to relax and when to goad you into strong effort, and those might alternate back and forth in a very complex manner.

From what I could see, it was masterful how Shih-fu worked very closely with the dozen or so people the entire retreat, even seeming to know exactly when people went to bed and when they got up. Not through any occult power necessarily; he's just aware of everything that's going on. When the guidance is very fine, I think there can be nothing better than this kind of intensified practice.

After a strenuous period of sitting, Shih-fu instructs people how to massage themselves to regather their energy, and teaches them certain yoga techniques. Could you explain your connection with Chinese yoga?