A human has his life expectancy and this has two meanings: his physical life and spiritual life. Physical life is the body and flesh; spiritual life is the mind and soul. Our Dharmakaya, or Dharma body，which is never born and never dies, lasts forever. It is as hard as a diamond, true longevity. In our physical life and spiritual life, one is the owner, the other is the guest. Our spiritual life, the owner, controls our physical life, the guest. Illnesses of our physical body are results of a weak spiritual mind and intrude on outside exogenous factors. Weak mind and weak breaths come from the uneasiness of the mind. Shortage of vitality causes various disturbances within the physical body. Greed for food, greed for victory, greed for gains, greed for sex and extravagance, are all reasons for illnesses. When our greed can not be satisfied, we will have a bad temper. This will disturb our mind and frighten our gall bladder, making our liver to burn, our nerves to shake and other organs become violent. This is an excuse for exogenous factors to go into our bodies and cause illnesses. Medicines can work for one time or another, but if we do not find the root causes, health will not come along. The key is our mind, so our key answer to this is to set our mind in peace. Only by doing this, and always, can we have both physical and spiritual health.
Meditation is a good way to set our mind in peace. When our mind is peaceful, we will have a good spirit and we will feel strong with vitality. When our breaths are strong, our blood is strong too. Its regular circulation kills the illnesses, brings energy to the body, and thus improves the functions of all parties. To eradicate illnesses, to build a strong defense, these are only minor benefits for the present. There are greater future benefits. Ease of mind brings about the brightness of spirit; we will become smarter with this brightness of spirit. A person with a calm mind has many good qualities: his brains work faster; he sees things with sharper eyes; he reacts quicker, and he talks with reasons. When he has the right virtues, he foresees the future; he won’t be frightened in case of emergency; he can resist temptations; he knows about causes and effects; he is open to ideas and options, and he does things good for everyone.
The blood and breaths of a healthy person flow smoothly around his body; he does not have to force them to do so. When someone is sick, there must be problems with his flow of blood and breaths, somewhere must be blocked. We must get rid of this block to bring back smooth circulation. This block is a disturbance of the mind. So we need meditation. With meditation, we set our body rest, maybe for an hour. When we sit still, balance our breaths, make them even, our mind will be in peace. This is not a simple thing.
To experience meditation, we need to pay attention to our thoughts coming and leaving. We have our mind, we must have thoughts. We can stop the thoughts from coming into mind, but we can never stop them from happening. When old thoughts go away, new thoughts will come along. In between, there is a space of emptiness. This space of emptiness reflects something called enlightenment there. It is neither existence nor non-existence. It’s just void. Whether long or short, we can feel it in deep meditation. It’s not something like cold stones, and it is not something like jumping monkeys either. It’s there，a void, an emptiness, kinds of thoughts up and down, in between them. We try to ignore it; it’s there. We keep it that way, a hundred times, thousand times, ten thousand times; we try not to even think about it. This is our meditation. An hour a time every day, not thinking this is right or not. When we feel comfortable in meditation, we don’t feel especially happy; when we feel uneasy in meditation, we don’t feel sad either. We just keep on doing this, day by day, and we will see the good effects.
Meditation is a good way to prevent illness, to cure illness, and to build a strong defense. If we make it a life habit, we will gain endless rewards. Therefore, no matter how busy we are, we must try to find an hour or even half an hour to sit down and meditate. Only by doing it day after day, we shall see good results. Of all our wants and desires, health is actually number one. So we must pay special attention to meditation. Everyone may suffer from some illness, and the cure may come from outer or inner. The outer force is to go to a doctor, take some medicine, or go for acupuncture or massage. The inner force is meditation. Outer force is good for emergency; inner force is good for long-lasting sickness. When medicine does not work, only meditation might help. This is a safe step. A combination of outer and inner forces might work better, and we are going to talk about this in greater detail.
First, we talk about the way of how we shall sit. We can sit on a bed or cushion, the back 5 cm higher, fat people maybe 7-8 cm higher. Just sit whatever is more comfortable, legs crossed, one on top of the other, palms facing upwards, right on left, waist straight, and not stressed. Just sit still, don’t move, or move only gently, eyes closed, tongue moving upwards. Second, about our breathing; close mouth slowly, use nose to breathe, listen to the breaths in and out, from fast to slow, from rough to gentle, and finally to peace. Don’t be hurried, keep calm, and breathe naturally. Third, about how to hold the mind, there are three aspects I need to mention:
One, hold your mind during meditation. If our mind is much disturbed, we should listen to our breaths. We make our mind having something to do so that it won’t wander about and think of other things. If we hold it too tight, there might be a block of consciousness. We shall not hold it too tight; we should leave some space there, somewhat between emptiness and existence. But we cannot let ourselves sleep. If we feel dizzy and sleepy, we should wake up to listen to our breaths, and have a clear mind. Neither good thoughts nor bad thoughts are good at this moment. If these thoughts come along, we just ignore them and keep on meditating. From the start, we can sit for half an hour, three quarters and increase to one hour. When we finish the meditation, do not stand up right away. Move your body, shake your head, press your feet and legs, and use your hands to rub your face thirty to forty times. When you stand up, walk a few steps, or you can lie down for a while. Do this every day, with no excuse to stop.
Second, hold your mind in sleep. Cover enough and keep warm when you sleep. Male shall lie down on your right shoulder; female shall lie on your left shoulder. This is not a strict rule. If you are suffering from some pain, just lie down in whatever way you think comfortable and easy to breathe. Just breathe naturally; do not use too much strength. Whether you are trying to think, to listen, or to feel, this is using strength. Lie down yourself like a dead body; don’t move, like a cake of sugar melting in water. Let yourself breathe evenly until you can feel that the breaths do not come from your nose or mouth, but from all over your body. Forget yourself, your physical body, and think you are one with the universe. Lead your body fire to burn out in the water; this can cure many diseases, without side effects. You can sleep this way for some minutes, or for hours. Don’t force yourself to go to sleep. Don’t sleep too much. Don’t think of too much so as to get yourself thirsty.
Third, hold your mind during the day time. Disturbing your mind is bad. When our mind is disturbed and confused, it affects our thoughts in doing our jobs; it also disturbs our blood flow. Worries, anger, fear, even happiness, are all signs of disturbances. They are the cause of bad health. We should hold our minds at all times, whether during recovery from illness or in our daily life. Even when we are busy meeting guests or performing other duties, we shall try to rest once for a while, five or ten minutes; look for a quiet place, sit down and relax, eyes closed and mind in peace. This is the way to good health.
When we sit still for a long time, places of our body that have symptoms of illness shall feel sore or painful. We should keep on meditating. After three to five months, when all nerves are smooth, the pains will disappear, and illness will disappear too. This is a good way to longevity.