The Root Practice of Zen

Questions posed to Zen Master Hui Hai:

Q: By what means is the root-practice to be performed?

A: Only by sitting in meditation for it is accomplished by Dhyana (Ch’an) and samádhi (ting). The Dhyana-paramita Sutra says:

‘Dhyana and samádhi are essential to the search for the sacred knowledge of the Buddhas; for, without these, the thoughts remain in tumult and the roots of goodness suffer damage.

Q: Please describe Dhyana and samádhi.


  • When wrong thinking ceases, that is Dhyana;
  • When you sit contemplating your original nature, that is samádhifor indeed that original nature is your eternal mind.

By samádhi, you withdraw your minds from their surroundings, thereby making them impervious to the eight winds, that is to say, impervious to:

  • Gain and loss,
  • Calumny and eulogy,
  • Praise and blame,
  • Sorrow and joy.

By concentrating in this way, even ordinary people may enter the state of Buddhahood.

How can that be so?

The Sutra of the bodhisattva-Precepts says:

‘All beings who observe the Buddha-precept thereby enter Buddhahood.’

Other names for this are ‘deliverance’, ‘gaining the further shore’, ‘transcending the six states of mortal being ‘overleaping the three worlds’,’ or becoming a mighty Bodhisattva, an omnipotent sage, a conqueror’!

Source:  The Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening by Master Hui Hai, John Blofeld translation


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