Our body is often everything to us, and it is only at the moment of death that we cast off this relationship with our body. What is more, we have no control whatsoever over the timing of this casting off, but once we do, we keep floating around aimlessly like ocean waves until we drift towards a place where our karmic ties lead us, and then we are reborn. Sometimes we are even tricked, that is, tricked into rebirth in an unwholesome place, which means the beginning of a life of trouble and suffering.
Our life is due to Karma (the law of cause and effect). Karma means the cycle of rebirth. Karma carries us into our mother’s womb, and it is karma that takes us on after we die. Karma is not something arranged by God. Rather, it is the pile of memory that we create ourselves through acts of our body, speech and mind. All the good and evil that we have created during our lifetime is the balance sheet which determines where we go after death. Isn’t there any way to get out of this cycle of rebirth? We need to practice Chan, and through our Chan practice to leave all good and bad karma behind, and return to our spiritual home.
When we practice seated meditation (Zazen), we concentrate our mind on method. Leaving behind all thoughts of good and bad, we just concentrate on method. The Chan method is our guide, which lets us return to Nirvana, a state that is unborn and never dies. The method is therefore like a navigation system. It is only at the point when we discover our own origin through Chan practice that we will we be able to cast off this web of memories which means rebirth.
Our spirit loves silence, but our mind constantly keeps disturbing it like a noisy monkey. Therefore, when we practice Chan, we let the desires of the heart and mind take a vacation. And when we listen to silence, we let the excitable movements of the heart take a vacation as well.
Dharma Master Hsin Tao (translated by Maria Reis Habito)