At a recent Dharma Talk, Zen Master Seung Sahn was asked what elements contribute to make a meditation practice strong and clear. He answered:
“True meditation comes from true cognition; true cognition comes from true meditation.
There are many schools of meditation in the United States. Some meditations use breathing awareness, some focus on sound, smell, vision, or body practices to build strong concentration. Very good feeling. This is “very good feeling” meditation, but it can miss the true way. Meditation can control anger and desire, and this feels good. But why do you want this good feeling? This is very important. Meditation means not-moving mind, but meditation alone is not enough. Good feeling, then what? For correct meditation, you must find correct cognition.
Cognition means understanding. But cognition alone cannot control your mind and body. What is truth? Many people can talk about this, they can tell other people what to do, but in their day to day life they cannot live their understanding. They are hindered by their thinking, their anger, their desire. Many people have clever speech, but only clever speech is not enough. Only cognition, without practicing, is dry cognition. Without both correct meditation and correct cognition, you cannot find your true self.
When not-moving mind and understanding come together, this is Zen. This is clear mind, not dependent on feeling or words, not dependent on anything. Clear mind means keeping a mind that is clear like space, clear like a mirror. Red comes, red. Yellow comes, yellow.”
Another student said, “Lin Chi Zen Master answered every question with, ‘Katz!’ Is this true meditation or true cognition?”
Seung Sahn Soen Sa answered, “Why do you ride around on the bone of space?”
The student answered, ”What does this mean?”
Seung Sahn Soen Sa hit him thirty times.