Read an Excerpt
From Part Two: The Reality of Ch'an Practice
Some people say that mountain climbers are really wasting their time. They have nothing better to do so they climb mountains, tire themselves out, and come back with nothing to show for it. Yet a person who climbs a tall mountain sees the world and experiences nature in a very different way from someone who never leaves his own front door. Genuine mountain climbers do not struggle up great precipices for the glory of it. They know that glory is only a label given by others. A true climber climbs for the experience of climbing. And this is an experience no one can have without setting a foot on the mountain path. If there is any purpose in Ch'an, we may say it is to discover the nature of the self. Those who make this effort discover something sublime. They do not strive for glory and praise from others. Rather, they do the work for themselves.
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Those who take up the study of Buddhism before their views have expanded are subject to fears and doubts. They doubt the method and whether they can reach the objective. Like those who have narrow views and only see what is in front of their eyes, their perspective is shallow and limited.
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What is known and what is seen are more important than what you do. Knowing and seeing refer to practice that is in accord with what the Buddha knows and sees. Practice is important, but that which the Buddha knows and sees is even more important. Without the guidance of the Buddha's experience, people would not be practicing Buddhadharma correctly.
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Over the years I have met many people who lack faith, who reach a certain point in their practice and find they can go no further. They may have partial faith; for instance, they may have confidence in themselves but no trust in the method. Or they may put all their faith in the method and mistrust the teacher. Some people may trust the teacher but doubt the level they can actually reach with Ch'an practice. Their doubt prevents them from having a deep experience.