How to keep a joyful heart

How can we quickly break through a bottleneck when we are facing a very difficult situation? How can we keep a joyful heart in the midst of our busy daily lives? There is one very good method for this – Chan-Meditation. I myself know from experience that the four steps of the Stillness Meditation help us to cleanse ourselves, to settle down, to purify ourselves, to let our innermost Self (Inside) be free from burden, from noise and interference so that our body and mind become clear and quiet. Our heart is wide open and quiet.  When you apply yourself in your practice, you will more and more discover how beautiful you are inside.

Chan practice lets us see the light of our heart. The nature of our heart, our mind is like the sun, which is always there and has never ever become dark. Our heart nature – in which the sun never sets – is bright during the day and also remains there at night, without ever becoming extinguished. The clouds are the thoughts and ideas in our mind – it is just like with the sun when it is covered up by clouds. But no matter how thick the dark clouds may be, they can never stop the sun. The sun is always there, and the cloud-cover is only temporary. Ultimately, the clouds cannot hide the sunlight.

How can we keep a joyful heart? Simply by not letting our heart be captured by arising thoughts. To be captured means to develop feelings whenever we perceive something. When we perceive something, we should maintain the attitude that there is nothing to obtain, nothing to see, nothing to abide in. In this way we can be free in body and mind. We immediately dissolve everything that our ears perceive in listening to silence, in listening to silence with the heart. Listening to silence lets you return to the origin, to your original nature.

Our heart, our mind is luminous. Our awareness is like a light which never goes out.  Our mind needs to be still for it to become increasingly clear. Buddhism is a teaching about overcoming suffering and attaining happiness. The cycle of rebirth – the cycle of seeing something, the cycle of hearing something, the cycle of thinking something, the cycle of the world of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch – is based on “giving rise to the mind in response to phenomena.” Picking and choosing, having preferences and aversions, we become unfree. When we can free ourselves, our heart returns and belongs to itself. But our heart often belongs to the world of illusions, the world of Samsara and constant change.  Gain and loss, emotions and feelings make it produce greed, anger and ignorance. Our heart often resembles glue – becoming that what it sticks to, making us produce opinions, worries and problems. How can we set our heart and mind free?  By not letting it get attached or cling to anything. By letting our heart be the heart, not a thing.

This is not something that we can accomplish in just one day, but something that can only be done if we observe it in daily life. We can only overcome our habit of getting attached to things, of clinging to things, if we are aware of it every moment. Only Chan practice lets us overcome our attachment to the things of the phenomenal world.  Our spirit originally doesn’t belong to the body or to anything else; it is luminous, without form or shape. Our body is only a construct, and as soon as we have this construct, our heart and mind gets attached to it. But who am I before I had this construct? Chan does not look for a construct – the construct of the I – it is the slowly getting rid of this kind of entanglement.

We know that time is life, and life is time. In order to live, we need to work, we need to earn money. In the process of earning money, we easily get lost and confused. So how can we earn money in an enlightened way? By not getting attached to money, not getting attached to any emotions, not getting attached to greed or anger. That which does not get attached is the spirit. I hope that all of you will make good use of this method of the Stillness meditation in daily life. If you are tired, practice 5 or 10 minutes of meditation. That is very good and helpful.

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