Shattering the Great Doubt: The Chan Practice of Huatou

Overview

Huatou is a skillful method for breaking through the prison of mental habits into the spacious mind of enlightenment. The huatou is a confounding question much like a Zen koan. Typical ones are "What is wu [nothingness]?" or "What was my original face before birth-and-death?" But a huatou is unlike a koan in that the aim is not to come up with an answer. The practice is simple: ask yourself your huatou relentlessly, in meditation as well as in every other activity. Don't give up on it; don't try to think your way...

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Shattering the Great Doubt: The Chan Practice of Huatou

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Overview

Huatou is a skillful method for breaking through the prison of mental habits into the spacious mind of enlightenment. The huatou is a confounding question much like a Zen koan. Typical ones are "What is wu [nothingness]?" or "What was my original face before birth-and-death?" But a huatou is unlike a koan in that the aim is not to come up with an answer. The practice is simple: ask yourself your huatou relentlessly, in meditation as well as in every other activity. Don't give up on it; don't try to think your way to an answer. Resolve to live with the sensation of doubt that arises, and it will pervade your entire existence with a sense of profound wonder, ultimately leading to the shattering of the sense of an independent self.

Master Sheng Yen brings the traditional practice to life in this practical guide based on talks he gave during a series of huatou retreats. He teaches the method in detail, giving advice for dealing with the typical pitfalls and problems that arise, and answering retreat participants' questions as they experience the practice themselves. He then offers commentary on four classic huatou texts, grounding his instructions in the teaching of the great Chan masters.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Master Sheng Yen is a true spiritual practitioner of deep and broad learning.”—H. H. the Dalai Lama

“Master Sheng Yen has the truly rare ability to harmonize classical teaching with actual meditation practice.”—Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590306215
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/12/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 549,352
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Chan Master Sheng Yen (1930–2009) was a widely respected Taiwanese Chan (Chinese Zen) master who taught extensively in the West during the last thirty-one y ears of his life, with twenty-one centers throughout North America, as well as dozens of others throughout the world. He has co-led retreats with the Dalai Lama, and he is the author of numerous books in Chinese and English, including Song of Mind, The Method of No-Method, and his autobiography, Footprints in the Snow.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

Part 1 Exposition of the Huatou Method

The Huatou Method 3

Cultivation 29

The Middle Way 51

Part 2 Commentaries on Huatou Practice

The Essentials of Practice and Enlightenment for Beginners: Commentary on a Text of Chan Master Hanshan Deqing 79

An Excerpt from Impetus to Pass through the Chan Gate: Commentary on a Discourse by Chan Master Huanglong Wuxin 105

Buddha Is Medicine for Sentient Beings: Commentary on a Letter from Chan Master Dahui Zonggao 137

The Great Matter of Birth and Death: Commentary on an Excerpt from the Discourse Record of Dahui Zonggao 165

Glossary 181

Sources 189

Index 193

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