Golden Flower Meditation

Instructions adapted from chapter 4 of The Secret of the Golden Flower as translated by Thomas Cleary. In my experience this meditation takes me deep.

  1. This method just requires single-minded practice. One does not seek experiential proof, but experiential proof comes of itself.

  2. On the whole, beginners suffer from two kinds of problems: oblivion and distraction. To get rid of them, rest the mind on the breath.

  3. Can one have no thoughts? We can’t cease to think. Can one not breathe? We can’t cease to breathe. Nothing compares to making the affliction itself into medicine, which means to have the mind and breath rest of each other.

  4. When U sit, lower your eyelids and establish a point of reference. Now let go. But if U let go absolutely, U may lose the ability to simultaneously keep your mind on listening to your breath.

  5. U will not allow your breathing to actually sound audible; just listen to its soundlessness. Once U hear the breath, it buoys U and U do not enter the fine. Then patiently lighten up a little. The more U let go, the greater the subtlety; and the greater the subtlety the deeper the quietude.

  6. Eventually, after a long time, all of a sudden even the subtle will disappear and the true “breathing” will appear, whereupon the substance of mind will become perceptible.

  7. Subtle mind makes subtle breath; unified mind moves energy. Subtle breath makes subtle mind; unified energy moves mind.

  8. U don’t understand the meaning of the word movement. Movement means pulling the strings; the word movement means control. Since U can cause movement by vigorous action, how could U not cause stillness by pure quietude?

  9. The life of the spirit comes from the prior death of the mind. If people can kill the mind, the original comes alive. Killing the mind does not mean quietism, it means undivided concentration. Buddha said, “Place the mind on one point.”

  10. If the mind tends to run off, then unify it by means of the breath; if the breath tends to become rough, then use the mind to make it fine. If U do this, how can the mind fail to stabilize?

  11. Generally speaking, the two afflictions of oblivion and distraction just require quieting practice to continue unbroken day after day until complete cessation and rest occur spontaneously. When U do not sit quietly, U may get distracted without knowing it; but once aware of it, distraction itself becomes a mechanism for getting rid of distraction.

  12. As for unawares oblivion and oblivion which U gain awareness of, there lies an inconceivable distance between them. Unawares oblivion means real oblivion; oblivion that U notice U can ward off.

  13. Whenever U sit, U will quiet your mind and unify your energy. How do U quiet the mind? Through the breathing, but the mind alone knows U when U breathe out and in; do not let the ears hear. When U don’t hear it, the breathing becomes fine and the mind becomes clear. If U can hear it, the breathing sounds rough, which means a cloudy mind.

  14. This practice doesn’t feel mechanical or forced. Just maintain a subtle looking and listening.

  15. What does “looking” mean? Eyes spontaneously shining, the eyes only looking inward and not outward. Not looking outward yet seeming alert means inward looking; one does not literally look within.

  16. What does “listening” mean? Ears spontaneously listening, the ears only listening inwards and not outwards. Not listening outward yet sounding alert means inward listening; one does not literally listen within.

  17. Listening means listening to the soundless; looking means looking at the formless.

  18. When U sink into oblivion and become drowsy, get up and take a walk. When your spirit has cleared, sit again. I recommend sitting for a while in the early morning when U have free time. After noontime, when we have many things to do, we can easily fall into oblivion. Also, U do not need to fix the length of time of meditation; U just need to set aside all involvements and sit quietly for a while. Eventually U will attain absorption and not become oblivious or sleepy.