In my previous article about mingjue and mindfulness, I share the first half of the story. Now let’s continue the story about Buddhist master Nagarjuna and a thief who changed his destination:
Then the thief said, “But whenever I have gone to any saints, they always say, ‘First stop stealing — then only can you be initiated.'”
It is said that Nagarjuna laughed and said, “You must have gone to thieves, not to saints. They know nothing. You just watch your breath — the ancient method of Buddha — just watch your breath coming in, going out. Whenever you remember, watch your breath. Even when you go to steal, when you enter into somebody’s house in the night, go on watching your breath. When you have opened the treasure and the diamonds are there, go on watching your breath, and do whatsoever you want to do — but don’t forget watching the breath.”
The thief said, “This seems to be simple. No morality? No character needed? No other requirement?”
Nagarjuna said, “Absolutely none — just watch your breath.”
And after fifteen days the thief was back, but he was a totally different man. He fell at the feet of Nagarjuna and he said, “You trapped me, and you trapped me so beautifully that I was not even able to suspect. I tried for these fifteen days — it is impossible. If I watch my breath, I cannot steal. If I steal, I cannot watch my breath. Watching the breath, I become so silent, so alert, so aware, so conscious, that even diamonds look like pebbles. You have created a difficulty for me, a dilemma. Now what am I supposed to do?”
Nagarjuna said, “Get lost! — whatsoever you want to do. If you want that silence, that peace, that bliss, that arises in you when you watch your breath, then choose that. If you think all those diamonds and gold and silver is more valuable, then choose that. That is for you to choose! Who am I to interfere in your life?”
The man said, “I cannot choose to be unconscious again. I have never known such moments. Accept me as one of your disciples, initiate me.”
Nagarjuna said, “I have initiated you already.” (The end of story.)
How to practice mingjue?
That reveals us the way to practice mingjue: be aware whenever we are doing things, talking, and having thoughts or emotions.
When we eat, instead of complimenting or complaining about the taste, presentation, service or surroundings,
When we talk, clearly be aware of the words that we are using and be alert when we have emotions while talking. As soon as we aware of the emotion and feelings, stop talking. Then start to feel inside: where those emotions and feelings come from, which organ; who indeed is having emotions; it is from true self or from my other selves.
When we have thoughts, be alert and be aware when some thoughts make us worry, fear, angry, jealous, hype or so on. Then start to feel inside: where those thoughts come from; who indeed is having those thoughts; they are my ego’s idea or my true self’s.
Watching our breath is an efficient way to break the old habit of unconscious living. It will make us slow down and be present. Once we slow down, we could feel inside and ask ourselves questions (without having to answer them). That is when our conscious awareness gets a chance to perform.
All of those are non meditation ways of mingjue practice. We can practice it in every moment every day. We need to be patient with ourselves. See, we have been driven by tons of unconscious living habits for years. Not likely to happen within fifteen days, it sure will take a while to break those OLD habits.
As for the meditation way of mingjue practice, there is a method called “Do Nothing” meditation. During meditation, we set no goal and we have no intention. When there is anything happens: the thoughts, feelings, or emotions, don’t stop don’t interrupt don’t judge don’t deny. Just observe. Watch them come and go, let them flow.
Dr Pang used to say “气功生活化”, meaning practice in daily life. That non meditation way of mingjue practice is exactly how we could practice in daily life. It looks easy but not. Our unconscious living habits are so strong, and some of them even become addictions.
If we could completely break them and free ourselves from those old habits, we are much closer to see our true self (yiyuanti). And If we can use both non meditation and meditation way of mingjue practice, we will be able to awaken our mingjue even more quickly.
Please comment below and let me know if you have question about mingjue practice.