Sitting in Chan, you have to "grab hold of the little monkey." Our minds are like a wild horse, and the intellect is like a monkey. If you don't get control over the monkey, it will run and jump all about, causing you to become distracted and scattered and lose a lot of energy. What a great shame it would be if you allowed the monkey of your mind squander your internal treasures. Now we want to rein the wild horse, and also to get hold of the monkey so that it becomes settled down and orderly. How do you get hold of the monkey? By putting in a golden hoop over its head. In the story of The Monkey, Tripitaka Master Hsuan Tsang would recite a hoop-tightening Mantra, and as the Mantra took effect, the hoop over Monkey's head would tighten, so the Monkey would not dare act up.
What is our hoop-tightening Mantra? It is the meditation topic, "Who is mindful of the Buddha?" Once you try to pursue "WHO?" your monkey will buckle down and become honest and reliable. Because he doesn't know "WHO?" he will concentrate his efforts in finding out "WHO." Once his thoughts become concentrated, his mind will become level and calm, and he won't run around. If you are able to grab a hold of your monkey so he becomes obedient, then you will have acquired considerable skill.
Sitting in Chan, you are like a horse-tamer, and a monkey-tamer. It's not easy. Although it's not easy, still, you want to sit. Anything you start out to do is not easy in the beginning. It requires a certain amount of effort. Sitting in Chan is the same way, in that you have to exert a certain amount of strength. However, if you are able to buckle down your wild and crazy mind and bring all of your errant thoughts to a single focus, then your skill will increase daily, and your afl1ictions will decrease daily.
The purpose of sitting in Chan is to open up wisdom Enlightenment is simply this: opening wisdom. After you've opened up wisdom, you won't be upside down as you were before. If you can sit still with your body and mind unmoving, then you can enter Samadhi. : Having gained Samadhi, you will naturally open wisdom, and all of your problems will be solved.
In general, the Buddha is not very different from ordinary people except in one way: He has great wisdom. Great wisdom is identical to spiritual penetration is that one's spirit is able to penetrate everything. Wisdom and spiritual penetrations are non-dual, they are two and yet not two. However, by "spiritual penetrations" is not meant "ghostly penetrations." "Ghost penetrations" refers to when you use your conscious, discriminating mind to make guesses and speculate. You may think you are clever, but in reality you are not. True wisdom does not require any mental deliberation. You naturally know; it is very spontaneous and effortless. If you have wisdom, then everything will connect. If you don't have wisdom, everything will be upside down, and yet you yourself won't be aware of it. If you are aware of your mistakes, then at least you can be saved. But if you aren't even aware of your mistakes, then you are in for much suffering.
Now, we want to leave suffering and attain bliss. When people have wisdom, they don't have to suffer anymore. If you understand, then you won't be afflicted anymore. The principle is to take time out to sit in Chan. As the saying goes:
Sitting in Chan means that you purify your thoughts. "Stilling thoughts" means you clean them up. This is what Great Master Shen Syiu meant in his verse,
If you understand this principle, then you can go on to cultivate Chan. You must exert effort in grabbing hold of the monkey. Recite the hoop-tightening Mantra. The more you recite, the more powerful it will become.
Everyone work hard! Bring forth your patience. Be patient even when your legs and your back hurt.