In the Chinese Chan (Zen) tradition, silent illumination refers to the natural awakened mind. As a method of cultivation, however, it is the simultaneous practice of stillness and clear-seeing, quiescence and luminosity, or samādhi and prajñā. While it is similar to the practices of śamatha and vipaśyanā (Pāli: vipassanā) in the Theravada tradition and the shikantaza (“just sitting”) practice of Japanese Soto Zen, it is uniquely different. Silent illumination practice cannot be pigeonholed into distinct sectarian methods, intellectual knowledge, or some kind of reified experience that can be possessed. This weekend course will explore several expedient means to cultivate silent illumination practice on and off the cushion. We will offer succinct instructions for formal seated meditation practice as well as learn how to cultivate it in daily life. The course- retreat will be based on the writings of Chan master Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091-1157).
To practice the Chinese Chan practice of silent illumination (mozhao); distinguish the practice of silent illumination from śamatha, vipaśyanā, and shikantaza practices; and recognize how the practice of silent illumination is a method that can be enacted in both seated meditation and daily life practice.
Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.