Cultivating Cessation and Practicing Taijiquan 修止與練太極拳

南懷瑾先生在「圓覺經」略說中解說:佛祖告訴我們一切眾生本來就是佛,但我們現在不是佛,因為我們自性光明受了蒙蔽,等於一面光明的鏡子埋在土裏,埋久了,把鏡子的光明遮掉了。我們自性光明被自己的煩惱妄想遮蔽,若將這些塵渣、污染除掉,就恢復自性光明——淨圓覺心,就成佛了。首先瞭解我們就是佛,再修行作工夫,把那些髒東西洗乾淨,以此正念遠離諸幻,一切的知覺、思想、感情、煩惱…等等都是夢幻空花,一切有為法、所有現象、所有境界都是虛幻不實,不要受騙就是了。

According to Buddhist scripture “The Perfect Englightenment Sutra”, Buddha-nature is said to be inherent in all sentient beings. The reason why we have not yet attained Buddhahood is because our natural brightness has been obscured. It is like a mirror being buried in the ground for a long time. The brightness of the mirror has been tarnished. Similarly, our true nature and natural brilliance are being covered up by our own troubled mind and wild thoughts. If we can remove these mental dust and dirt, then our true nature and natural brilliance will shine through again. That is, we see our hearts through quietude and perfection. This is enlightenment, it is attaining Buddhahood. But we must first realize that we have Buddha nature within us, and then we work on our cultivation. Once we cleanse ourselves of the contamination, we can then use our perfected spiritual insight to free us from illusions. We will realize all sensations, thoughts, emotions, troubles etc., are nothing but dreams of fantasy. In addition, all man-made methods, all phenomena, and every realm are also nothing but illusions. We will not be fooled by these distractions anymore.

修行的法門先要修止,止是修定之因,得定是修止之果。修止、修定不是佛法專有之法,任何外道、任何宗教都必須修止,才能夠有成就,即使畫符、唸咒,乃至邪門外道還是一樣要修止。止是把心專一起來,世間任何一件事,如學問、技術、武術,音樂、藝術,若不專一,也不會有成。只要把心集中於一點,沒有做不成功的事。釋迦牟尼佛說過:「制心一處、無事不辦。」正是此意。

The gateway to self cultivation is the cultivation of cessation. Cessation is the practice. Reaching the state of total tranquility and quietude is the result of practicing cessation. Buddhists are not the only ones who practice cessation; many other disciplines and religions also require this practice for realization. This requirement even extends to those engaging in the drawing of esoteric talismans, casting spells, and other pagan rites. Cessation allows the heart to stay focused. When undertaking any kind of endeavor in this world - for example, scholarly pursuits, technical work, martial arts, music, and cultural arts - if one cannot focus, there can be no achievement. “Once you focus, you can accomplish anything.” This adage is also echoed in the Buddhist scripture.

四書中的《大學》提到:「大學之道在明明德,在親民,在止於至善。知止而後有定,定而後能靜,靜而後能安,安而後能慮,慮而後能得。」明明德者明心見性也。大徹大悟。把前念停掉,把所有的思想煩惱都停掉,後念不讓它起,中間就空靈了,這才叫修止。如何能明心見性呢?「知止而後有定」,止的功夫達到才有定,定下來之後才能夠真正靜,靜而後能安。安而後能慮,此慮非指憂慮,而是思維的意思,經過思維才能達到智慧的成就,才能夠明明德。這個戒、定、慧的程序講得非常清楚。

Confucius, in his four books “The Great Learning,” said: “The Dao of Great Learning is to understand illustrious virtue, to be close to the people, and ultimately rest in the stillness of the highest benevolence. Knowing the art of cessation or resting in stillness will lead to stability. When you are stable you will attain quietude, which leads to peacefulness. Once you are at peace and tranquil, you can really contemplate, and then finally you can achieve your goals.” To understand illustrious virtue is to illuminate one’s heart to see the intrinsic nature of all beings – the Great Enlightenment.

Stop all previous thoughts, stop all distractions and troubles of the mind, at the same time, prevent any subsequent thoughts from coming through; then you have reached a state of “emptiness.” This is the cultivation of cessation.

How can you illuminate your heart to see the intrinsic nature of all beings? “Know how to practice cessation to rest in stillness, then stability will follow.” You must know how to attain cessation in order to settle down. Once you settle down then you can really achieve tranquility. When you are tranquil you are at peace. Then you can start to contemplate. This contemplation is not about worrying, but is about deliberate and careful reasoning. Through this deliberate and careful reasoning one can attain the wisdom to understand illustrious virtue. This sequence of first renunciation, then quietude, and finally attaining wisdom is laid out perfectly clear for us.

佛法稱戒、定、慧為三無漏學,由嚴持戒律而得定,由定力而生發智慧。

此修止法門與練太極拳有莫大的關係。我們首先要理解太極拳的要旨是用意不用力,此是練太極拳的目標,目標既能設定,所有的練功法門,應都是為達到目標而設。拳架是為使我們能由色相中開始修煉,繼而能找到太極拳的本質。拳架是方便法門、是有為法,最終是要拋棄的。不用力是戒,所有用力的思想、念頭、潛意識是令我們破戒的誘因,都要把它們停掉。要把這些念頭、思想停掉可不容易。時刻都要專心去做,這便是修止。修止練到一個程度,妄念不起便能進入定的階段。真空起妙有,新的智慧自然產生,由此體會到一些平常不能感受的意境,如鏡上染污盡去,能看清自己本來面目。到此境界,方能進入太極拳世界的大門。

This systematic approach of renunciation, quietude, and wisdom is called “the three inescapable studies” in Buddhist practice. Through strict discipline and self control one can reach a peaceful state. It is from this peaceful state that great wisdom sprouts.

The cultivation of cessation and the practice of Taijiquan are intimately connected. First we must realize that the main focal point of Taijiquan is to use one’s mind and not brute force. This is the goal of the practice. Once you have established the goal then all practice methodologies should focus on reaching the goal. Form practice allows us to start from something that is more obvious and tangible to reach the essence of Taijiquan. Form practice is just a “convenient method,” but is man-made, and therefore has to be discarded at the end. Since we must renounce the use of brute force, any thoughts, notions, and impulses that prompt us to use brute force are temptations to distract us from this mandate. We have to put a stop to these distractions. This is not an easy thing to do; we must be stay focused and be vigilant with every single moment. This is the cultivation of cessation or renunciation. When this practice reaches a certain level, you will have no “wild thoughts” and you then enter the stage of “stability.” This state of true emptiness will produce something special – a new wisdom will spontaneously arise through which you will experience and appreciate certain states of mind not typically felt before. This is like removing the dirt from the long-buried mirror. You can now see your true reflection. When you reach this state, you have finally entered the gate of the world of Taijiquan.

By Patrick SW CHAN

Translated by Dominic and Theresa Chan

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