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What Is Chan?

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The word "Chan" can mean enlightenment, and enlightenment can be
understood to mean realizing "the first meaning," or "the ultimate
truth." In Chan, there is also what is called "secondary meaning," or
"conventional truth." Conventional truth can be expressed in words and
concepts, but the primary, or ultimate, truth of Chan cannot be
expressed in words. In the Chan tradition, sometimes the ultimate truth
is compared to the moon, and the conventional truth compared to a finger
pointing at the moon. No one would mistake the finger for the moon.
Words, language, ideas, and concepts are like the finger and can express
just the conventional truth. These words and concepts only point to the
ultimate truth. The ultimate truth can be called mind, original nature,
or Buddha-nature. It is something everyone must experience for himself
or herself. It can never be fully described.”
--Ven. Master Sheng Yen, “In the Spirit of Chan”

Chan is a prominent school of Buddhism which was brought from India to
China via the monk Bodhidharma, in 500 C.E. It is known as Zen in Japan,
Thien in Viet Nam and Son in Korea. Through an emphasis on a direct and
personal experience of one’s very own innate wisdom, Chan relies on the
two pillars of concepts and practice methods to help people realize the
true nature of their minds and develop a lasting peace of mind, which
can extend to all relationships in daily life. While using seated
meditation as a foundation for practice, Chan is an immensely practical
form of spiritual practice which can be incorporated into one’s busy and
hectic life.

The practice of Chan helps people cultivate awareness, as well as the
realization of our inter-relatedness with all things. Furthermore,
through the steady practice of meditation, mindfulness-related or
chanting methods, those who practice Chan can overcome difficulties
related to self and its vexations, while allowing them to engage in
daily life with a refreshing ease of body and mind. Realizing the purity
of mind through dedicated practice, practitioners can learn to purify
their environments on all levels: spiritual, living, natural and social.
Chan practice starts through realizing clarity of mind, wisdom and
compassion, and can then spread out to the surrounding community through
greater social harmony.

DDMBA Ontario is a spiritual practice community which is devoted to the
selfless spread of those practice methods that help people realize their
innate wisdom and compassion. Together, and with the help of visiting
Dharma teachers and monastics, we are helping each other to learn the
meaning and personal realization of Chan. We hope that you can join us
on this wonderful, lifelong journey of the heart and mind.

“Chan practice is not limited to meditation. It is not simply about
being calm and peaceful. The ultimate goal of Chan practice is to
personally realize true freedom within our original nature and to know
the depth of our connectedness with others. This is the wisdom and
compassion of Chan.”
--Venerable Master Sheng Yen (Source: “The Effects of Chan Meditation”)