Zen Meditation 6

Although the methods of zazen given here are simple and straightforward, it is best to practice them under the guidance of a qualified Zen teacher. Without a teacher, a beginning meditator will not be able to correct his or her mistakes, and these could lead to problems or lack of results. The fruits of correct zazen practice include centeredness, calmness, and clarity.

Traditional Approaches to Zazen

The earliest Chinese translations of Buddhist sutras that described methods for achieving a unified mind (samādhi) appeared around the end of the second century A.D. In the beginning of the fifth century, Kumārājiva translated into Chinese several more sutras on the practice of meditation, such as the Sutra on Zazen and Samadhi (Tso-ch'an san-mei ching). During these early centuries many Chinese monks practiced zazen to achieve samādhi in the Indian manner. During the Sui dynasty (589-6l7), the T'ien-t'ai master Chih-I wrote two seminal works on meditation. He described zazen in terms of three aspects: regulating the body, the breath, and the mind. He also presented four methods for attaining samadhi: constant sitting; constant walking; half walking, half sitting; and neither walking nor sitting. Thus several centuries before the emergence of the Ch'an school in the seventh century, zazen had already reached a high state of development in China, both as a practice and as a scriptural topic. We also note the close association between zazen and samadhi in Chinese Buddhist practice prior to Ch'an.